Travel Magazine

BMW, EMW, AWE: The Evolution (or Not) of a Car.

By Charlie Mcgrane @CharlieMcGrane

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An Automobilwerk Eisenach model. EMW

An Automobilwerk Eisenach model.

In Athens, Greece I saw a few unusual cars that I’d never seen before. They resembled the old Trabant that was made famous in a U2 video in the 1990s. I looked at the badge and it had the words ‘Automobilwerk Eisenach (VEB)’. I saw three of them in all, just parked up and slowly aging into Greek history on the streets.

An EMW Wartburg estate.

An EMW Wartburg estate.

Eisenach, Germany was the location of a manufacturing plant belonging to the Munich based Bayerische Moteren Werke (BMW) marque. That now famous brand had brought its car building skills to Eisenach in 1928. After the Second World War the Soviets took control of the factory then later transferred it back to the East German government in 1952 but it still rolled out BMW cars under Soviet control. In 1952 the company name became Eisenacher Moterenwerk (EMW). In 1954 the name changed again to VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach (AWE). This name held until AWE ceased to be in 1991 after German reunification.

An EMW Wartburg Tourist 353W.

An EMW Wartburg Tourist 353W.

The Wartburg 353W was produced between 1975 and 1988 so the white car shown could have been made in any of those years. The ‘IFA’ was a union to which all East German (GDR) car makers at the time belonged to.

Another AWE badge. EMW

Another AWE badge.

Eisenach gifted the world not only the boring looking EMW/AWE cars but more importantly the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach on the 21st of March 1685. I asked the legendary bass guitar player, Z-Man, one day about the secrets of the bass and his answer? “It all goes back to Bach”. My guess is that J.S. Bach will be remembered long after the Wartburgs of EMW and AWE have turned to rust. Although I am a bit more partial to the Mercedes-Benz marque, it’s probably a certain thing that BMW is so advanced now too that EMW/AWE would have been just another also-ran if it were still in existence. BMW had a good but brief period in Formula One in the last decade, so that alone is a symbol of motoring excellence.

Athens’ automobile museum.
The classic Athens bar scam.
Athens, a city of Olympic history.

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