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Member Article: The East German BMW

Words and Images by Neil Fitzgerald.

The East German BMW?

After the division of Germany following WW2, many ‘German’ companies found themselves on both sides of the border.  Lufthansa, the German airline, for instance, continued to operate on both sides.  In the ‘west’ as Lufthansa and in the ‘east’ as Deutsche Lufthansa – both using the same logo.

EMW 327

This was a situation that clearly couldn’t last especially after both ‘Lufthansa’s’ started international services.  In 1958 Deutsche Lufthansa became ‘Interflug’ (international flight) and the corporate livery changed from blue to red. Similarly, BMW found itself in a similar predicament with factories in both the east and west but was quicker to re-identify itself – kind of.

EMW 340 Roadster

The logo remained basically the same with the blue quarters changed to red and the name changed from BMW to EMW – Eisenach Motorenwerk.

EMW 340 – With updated “BMW’ Style Grill

The factory continued to produce cars having contracts with the Volkspolizei (People’s Police) but never achieved mass production although they did manage to enter a car into the 1953 Formula One World Championship in Nürenberg, West Germany (unfortunately having to retire and thus not finishing the race). In the 1950s the factory concentrated more on producing motorcycles until this was also handed over to fellow East German maker Simson and Suhl and the EMW brand changed to VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach famous for building East Germany’s other mass-produced vehicle – the Wartburg.

The 6-cylinder EMW 340 produced between 1952 – 1955 including variants, in excess of 21.000 were built.

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