In the East, the AWZ P70 was originally
intended to fill the "intermediate" car role, that
of a small economical 2 (and occasional +2) role.
any such car to be successful, it needed to be cheap,
easy to repair, built of lightweight materials and,
if possible, afford more storage than a motorcycle.
For those in the East, this was arguably far more important
than for those in the West. Most infrastructures had disappeared
to the West, and without getting into the political machinations
of the time few would argue that those in the East had
less disposable income to spend on a car.
It was into this climate that the P70 was created. East
German families had, until the release of the P70, relied
on the pre-war DKW (Das Kleine Wunder - The small
) Type F8 equipped with a two-stroke engine
as their main mode of transportation.
In fact, the Zwickau Automobile Factory (AWZ) continued
the production of the F8 and an updated version, the F9
after the War under the authority of the Soviets and then
the East Germans.
But it was clearly evident that these
cars were terribly outdated, and in 1953 production of
the F9 was transferred to Eisenach, where EMW and later
Wartburg production commenced.
Development of a replacement for the F9 commenced at
the Automobile Werke Zwickau facility.
Dubbed the P70,
the car was to be manufactured from readily available
materials (namely plastic) and to feature a 690cc engine.
(P=plastic, 70=700cc). The "Duroplast" plastic used
in the P70's manufacture was made out of a resin, then
strengthened by the use of wool.
The car made its debut at the 1955 Leipzig Fair. Its
engine was based on the old F8, featuring a two-cylinder,
two-stroke, 690 cc, 22 bhp engine. As you would expect,
the car was extremely light (820 kg) and promised a top
speed of 90 km/h, although only the very brave, or very
stupid, would ever attempt to prove this true.
The P70 used a three-speed synchronized gearbox driving
the front wheels, and although the same mechanicals had
been carried over from the F8, the engineers had rotated
the engine 90 degrees and placed it more over the front
axle in an attempt to afford better handling.
Beside the "Limousine" body style a "Kombi" estate and
even a coupé were offered. During its four year production
life about 30,000 cars were built.