1974 Wartburg Knight from UK and Ireland


Wish I'd kept it


Developed an unhealthy appetite for speedometers! Got through at least 4.

Door cards warped and got ripped by window winder handles.

General Comments:

Solid and reliable. Never let me down on the road. (Apart from the speedometers!)

Used it to push mate's Ford Zodiac 10 miles with the front bumper.

Parts were almost free! £1.50 for a complete headlight. (See Zodiac comment...)

Frighteningly fast on motorways with the free-wheel gearbox. Once overtook a police car at 100mph+ with the engine at tickover!

Body work was only a bit more solid than a beans can though.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 8th March, 2008

19th Feb 2009, 17:40

100 MPH with a two-stroke wartburg? Downhill, right? :rolleyes:

9th Apr 2009, 17:03

Many years ago I was begged to take a horsey lady to Tewksbury Car Auctions as she needed another car. (old one needed hundreds of pounds worth of welding to pass the MOT) The desired vehicle was a Volvo estate but they all made big money. The only car within her budget was the Wartburg Knight Estate. This was won for not too much money and it was a super car ideal for carrying bales of hay. I got her to buy a 5 gallon drum of 2T oil and showed her how to dose the petrol. Sadly I seem to remember the cars eventual demise resulted from someone not adding oil. (car lent to a "friend"?) Years later I owned an Audi 100 estate and definitely felt a case of deja-vu, no free-wheel but everything else felt so similar to the Wartburg. Perhaps governments should encourage free-wheels as these will reduce CO2 emissions. No need to spend billions on researching new technology as the old technology worked perfectly!

30th Mar 2010, 11:53

The Wartburg knight/353 is a very good car and a worthwhile classic, but they only do about 70mph flat out, so 100mph or over is not possible.

30th Mar 2010, 14:31

To the poster of 19th Feb 2009, 17:40:

- Downhill, no. Dropped out of a bomber, yes.

15th Mar 2013, 04:29

I seem to remember that the two-stroke and later four-stroke tear-drop shaped Saabs of that era had freewheels too; and I'm pretty sure a friend's Rover 60 had one. But I think the reason why cars don't have them now, might be that if the brakes fail downhill, then you wouldn't want a freewheel operating (unless it can be overridden), as you can slow the car down somewhat by revving up and changing down.

2nd Mar 2014, 18:19

Depends on condition. Some ramshackles probably top 70mph. Some others still rally race today. So for them 100mph is actually quite in order. Mine is 30 year old, and somewhere in between the heap of junk and the maintained racer. Tops 90+ on the highway. 80 with ease.

1st Nov 2016, 16:27

Best car I have driven but never owned!

2nd Nov 2016, 09:36

Sounds like me with all the car rentals I have tried but never owned. Some better than ones I own.

1975 Wartburg Knight Tourist Estate 1.0 from UK and Ireland


I really slummed it..


Woodruff key on fan drive pulley. Just bought another head and gasket with intact fan mechanism as it was cheaper and easier to fix this way. The woodruff key had damaged the shaft.

General Comments:

A hardy rough car built for the coldness and isolation of European winters. Easy to repair and cheap to repair, which was what was needed in the communist block at the time. However the only reason to wait two or more years in a queue to buy one was the lack of choice. Compared to a Trabi, the Wartburg is a luxury car (Trabi's are cuter though).

Gloomy low rent decor inside and lousy handling. Around a corner it feels like the most non responsive thing I have ever driven, apart from a tractor. Why should the steering be that lousy??

The one I owned had sheepskin seat covers and at least the seats seemed to be OK. Decor though was painted cardboard, and I remember the window winders being particularly slow?? Or hard and slow?? A lot of turns for just up and down...

I have pictures of it which remind me how bad the interior was.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 3rd May, 2007