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A Van Legend from former East Germany

Brakas 1000

The VEB (nationally owned) Barkas plant Hainichen in East Germany has produced about 176,000 Barkas B 1000 from 1961 to 1991.

The origins of the van model L1

In 1923 Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen has founded the Metallwerke GmbH in the Saxon Frankenberg. He started to produce small delivery vans under the brand name Framo. These vehicles were very helpful in the reconstruction period after the Second World War. The research and development plant Karl-Marx-Stadt (today Chemnitz) judged the basic concept of the Framo vans as totally obsolete in 1951. Therefore the vehicle developers started to work on a complete new van model with the name “L1”.

Barkas shapes the DDR

Five years later the first functional model of the L1 was realized as panel van and the company got renamed into Barkas plant. The Barkas 1000 was presented by the manufacturers as their first new development of the post-war history. The serial production started in 1961. These vehicles became a part of the everyday life in the GDR. In the early years Barkas also delivered some vans abroad.The rapid transporter was driven by a Wartburg three-cylinder two stroke engine with originally 900 cm³ and a power of 43 h.p. Later on with 1,000 cm³ the power was raised to 46 h.p. The maximum speed was 100 kilometres per hour.

The engine of the front-wheel drive was placed between the driver’s and the passenger’s seat and was accessible from the interior via a little service lid.

Versatile helper

The Barkas could be used in many ways due to its numerous body variants, for example as small van or breakdown truck and it could be equipped with loading beds, boxes or tarpaulins. The van was available as personal transporter, small fire fighting vehicle, ambulance, articulated lorry, military or police vehicle. A major advantage of the Barkas was its payload with one ton. The low loading edge was very practical and the simple construction made the van a solid and sturdy vehicle. The standard equipment was improved continuously. From 1984 a LED display informed the driver about the tank level and the cooling water temperature. The lateral flap door of the enclosed model was exchanged for a sliding door in June 1987.

Red Framo

Barkas 1000 as

Red Barkas 1000

Barkas 1000

The competition

At the market launch the B 1000 corresponded formally and technically to the state-of-the-art technology. The Barkas could keep up easily with Western transporters like the VW bus, Ford Transit, DKW Schnellaster, Tempo Wiking or Renault Estafette. Only over the years the B 1000 has fallen behind the advanced Western European vans.

Text: Source: Rönicke, Frank. Framo und Barkas, Stuttgart: Paul Pietsch Verlag, 2012


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