There is a stereotype that the Germans are an engineering nation, measured, meticulous, and calculating. Looking at this 1936 DKW Works Supercharged race bike, that stereotype is perpetuated. During a time when race bikes still had rigid suspension the heart of this racer was a 3 cylinder, water cooled, two stroked supercharged engine which screamed, a real scream. The seller of this work of art gives a very good history of the bike and a look into the history of the times in which it raced.
From the seller
Possibly the most aesthetically pleasing, most advanced & fastest prewar motorcycles of all time..The supercharged deeks led to the banning of supercharging in racing grand prix & TT machines.This was Kluge’s own bike, before being left with a Victorian DKW dealer awaiting a new ordered production racer, being imported from Germany, which arrived in 1939..(the surviving production racer is also pictured below)..Champion, Ewald Kluge was coming to Australia with new machines & factory team, to repeat their 37/38 winning feat, when war intervened.. They made it as far as South Africa.. “The Baron & Baroness, already in Australia, just managed to leave before the internment net closed around them.” (Full article in “the Classic Motorcycle /Hamish Cooper Sept 1991 Edition”). Leaving this bike behind, a truly amazing, well documented, unique history..
DKW was the larges motorcycle company during the 1920’s and 1930’s and they were not afraid to spend their money on racing. Never straying from their production bikes, DKW raced light weight bikes in 175cc, 250cc and 350cc two stroke bikes. With this money DKW was able to develop a supercharged racer that was the bike to beat in Europe and Australia. The supercharged engine is elegant in that the Supercharger is not some big lump attached to the engine as an after thought. A third cylinder, driven by the same crank as the powered cylinders would pressurize an chamber within the crank case, and it was this forced air which would charge the two power chambers.
Quotes from the time
“The machine sounds like a shotgun when it fires, with unbearable pressure waves pounding your chest, when you stand 5 metres behind.”
Deeks first raced in the Isle of Mann TT in 1935, “the screaming DKW’s shattered the island “~ (Bob Holliday Keig collection vol 1).
A sound you could hear 60 miles away across the water in Liverpool.
As you can see the twin Carburetors stuck out the sides with there large velocity stacks taking in air as it rushes past the bike and rider. A British privateer, L.R. Higgins wrote in his book Private Owner that the DKW would be a world beater on sunny days at the Isle of Man. But he tells that if it was raining, or the road or track wet, these exposed stacks would pull in more water then air, and the world beater could be found at the side of the road.
As the seller tells, the works riders and the DKW’s themselves were effected by the world at war starting in late 1938. The riders returned home before they were interned for the duration of the conflicts to come. The bikes were left behind and were not treated much better. When found the engine was blown, not in a good way. Check out the auction for this 1936 DKW Supercharged racer, there are more stunning pictures, and the added history lesson is worth the read. BB