EMW 340: The Communist BMW

The EMW 340 is a car model manufactured in the former East Germany by the company Eisenacher Motorenwerk (EMW). This model was produced between 1952 and 1955 and is regarded as the “communist BMW” because EMW was a company that originated from the BMW factory in Eisenach after World War II.

Continuation of BMW production

After World War II, the BMW factory in Eisenach was taken over by the Soviets, as it was located in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. The factory continued to produce cars and motorbikes under the BMW brand name, but in 1952 it had to change its name to EMW due to a lawsuit. The logo was also changed and instead of the blue colour used by BMW, EMW used red.

Photo: Ralf Roletschek, Wikipedia

The EMW 340

The EMW 340 was an updated version of the BMW 326, an earlier model produced at the same factory. This model was powered by a 1,971 cc inline six-cylinder engine, which produced a maximum power output of 55 hp. The design of the car was very similar to that of the BMW 326, but it had a redesigned front grille that clearly distinguished the EMW 340 from its predecessor.

The EMW 340 was produced in different versions, including sedan, coupé and convertible. A sporty version known as the EMW 340 Sport was also produced, which had a lighter body and a more powerful engine capable of producing 90 hp.

The EMW 340 in competition

In 1953, EMW participated in Formula 1 as a constructor, but only in one race, the German Grand Prix of that year. The car, driven by German driver Ernst Klodwig, retired after 12 laps due to exhaust problems.

EMW 340 with BMW logo. Photo:Wikipedia

The legacy of the EMW 340

The EMW 340 is considered a landmark car in German motoring history, as it represents a transitional period when Germany’s car factories were divided between the victors of the war. It is also an example of how BMW designs were adapted and continued to be produced after World War II in a Soviet-controlled region.

EMW, the company

Before the war, the BMW factory in Eisenach produced a wide range of vehicles, including cars and motorbikes. During the war, the factory became a major producer of military equipment, and after the war, the Soviets took over the factory and began producing vehicles under the BMW brand name. However, in 1952, BMW sued the company for unauthorised use of its trademark and a settlement was reached for the company to change its name to EMW and modify its logo.

Despite its initial success, EMW began to experience financial problems in the 1950s and production of automobiles and motorbikes began to decline. From then on, EMW started to focus on the production of engines for other car and motorbike manufacturers, which allowed them to remain a relevant company in the automotive industry. In 1963, the company changed its name to VEB Motorenwerk Eisenach and became a state enterprise of the German Democratic Republic.

In the 1990s, after German reunification, the company was taken over by Opel and became its production site in Eisenach.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

  1. What does EMW stand for? EMW stands for Eisenacher Motorenwerk, the name of the company that produced the EMW 340.
  2. Why did BMW’s Eisenach plant have to change its name? BMW’s Eisenach plant had to change its name to EMW due to a legal action brought by BMW, which argued that the use of its name and logo by the Eisenach plant was an infringement of its intellectual property rights.

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