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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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August 2012 Issue
 
ARTICLE
German Orphans
By Robert McLellan
 

Prior to World War II there were few German-built cars that were imported into the USA. The two main sources were a dealership in New York City and one in Hollywood. These were cars for the stars! If you had the money you could parade around in a Mercedes-Benz 500K convertible. That set you apart from the Duesenburg and Rolls-Royce owners — both more common. A BMW or Horsch would have been a very rare sight and a Porsche had yet to be created. German cars were recognized by the GIs stationed in Germany after WWII as something special. Once production returned to building cars instead of bombers and tanks, the curious, well engineered cars became popular to export in the ownership of the returning soldiers. The US dealers quickly picked up on the opportunity to service and sell these cars in the 1950s. Soon German makes such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche were seen throughout America.

But it did not stop there. Other dealers and manufacturers wanted in on the action and imported other makes of German cars. German engineering and quality were the selling points but not every German car lived up to that reputation, although some did. Some survivors have been restored and occasionally roam the streets of North America.

 
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AUTO UNION (later to become Audi)

1959

1961

1962
     
 
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BORGWARD

1955

1957

1961
     
 
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DKW

1956

1958

1958
     
 
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NSU

1961

1962

1966
     
 
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WARTBURG

1966

1966

1971
     
 
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, August 2012
 
 
 
 
 
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