It seems to be quite some time ago already but in a time the most epic cars were created (the ‘60’s) Germany was divided. Of course. And while the Bundes Republik Deutschland (West Germany) had companies like Porsche and BMW to get a sporty car, the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (East Germany) in fact only had two-stroke saloons available. Capable of speeds barely over 60 miles an hour.
To celebrate the DDR’s 20th birthday, the committee “Automobilrennsport” of the ADMV (the East German Autosport Association) initiated the development of an all-East-German race car. Heinz Melkus, a racing driver from Dresden, got the job and he co-developed the “RS 1000” with the technical university Dresden, the Verkehrshochschule Dresden, engineers from “Automobilwerks Eisenach” (Wartburg) and designers from the Berlin-Weißensee art-school. Their first prototype was presented in April 1969. “RS” weil “RennSportwagen” natürlich!
In case you noticed me mentioning Wartburg: yes THAT Wartburg. Of two-stroke fame. And exactly that engine was used in this, as were other parts. The engine was mounted mid-rear and got a make-over to make it more useful on track. So Heinz got some triple motorcycle carburetors from MZ, altered the exhaust, added a 5-speed transmission and all that was good for 70hp at 5000 rpm (instead of 50) and a top-speed of 165 km/h.
The true track-edition did 100hp (at 6000 rpm) and reached 210km/h though. And as if that wasn’t enough Melkus tried to combine two of those two-stroke three-cylinders as well. Still two crankshafts but a set of gears to redirect all this goodness to one clutch. But synchronizing those triple MZ carburetors twice was a bitch so this project was doomed. I’m very curious how such a six cylinder two-stroke sounded though. If you want to hear how such a triple-race-spec-two-stroke sounds check this:
Although most people think of it as a fiberglass car, it’s body isn’t completely plastic. Just the front and back are, doors and roof were some sort of alloy. This resulted in a very light car: the standard car did 750 kgs and the race car even stayed under 700kg! It could carry only 200 kg, next to the driver/passenger there even was a possibility to carry some luggage in a luggage compartment. Size: 60 x 40 x 20. Centimeters that is. The size of barely 5 laptops stacked together. Required by the ADMV. And positioned behind the seats.
It was a pretty low car with it’s 107 cm height. The doors were of the “Gullwing”-kind. And it’s lines were quite aerodynamic as the windtunnel of the Dresden University measured it with a drag coefficient of 0,30 cw.
From order to delivery Melkus needed “just” 2 years tops. And it truly was “just” as it could take 10 years to get your ordered Trabant Limousine delivered. There was a catch though: Only racing drivers and “chosen” DDR-inhabitants were allowed to order one. Racing drivers even had to have an ADMV-racing license.
This way it often ended up in the ADMV-Tourenenwagenmeisterschaft. And with a price of 30.000 “Ost”-Mark it was out of reach anyway for most “Ossies”. Used as well as used cars in East Germany often were more expensive than new ones due to the lack of supply.
Over a period of 21 years 101 units were produced. Of these it is said 80 have survived. In 2006 there was a short revival and Melkus planned on building 15 cars by hand, with a two-stroke. Five more were produced with a 1600cc four-stroke engine. And all this made way for the total resurrection of Melkus as the company came up with the all new RS2000:
I have yet to find a 1/43 of that one as well. The revival didn’t take long, after only 3 years Melkus went bankrupt and only between 20 and 25 units were built each year. It was based on a Lotus chassis but that’s for a future TT.
This 1/43 model is a ‘Magazine Models’, a subsidiary of IXO from which all kinds of diecasts are sold to/along with car magazines, DeAgostini is an example of this. These are known to be cheap, hence the blister package. You can get it for 5 euros easily. It was worth every penny of it to me, love this little obscure blue-oil-smoke-pukin’ beast.
Love the story of this one as well. And just before finishing this post I remember Small Scale Sidney did a piece of this one before on LaLD, not that long ago. So if you think “That’s something I’ve read before”, well, you know why. I hope to have given a few new facts. And that yellow begged me to use it in the black background.
Das Ende ist unvermeidlich. Das war es auch für Heinz († 2005). Aber niemahls das Ende für DEUTSCHLAND DIENSTAG! So pull out your Porsches, BMWs and Melkii (?) and share ‘m on LaLD! Tschüss!