Wartburg 311 and 312 (1956 – 1966) Review

Wartburg 311 and 312 (1956 – 1966) At A Glance


+Impressively comfortable and great to look at

-Parts availability isn't the best

The Wartburg 311 and 312 are proof positive that it was possible to produce handsome and well-engineered cars from behind the Iron curtain. First shown at the 1956 Leipzig Spring Fair, the 311 was a well-engineered (if slightly old-fashioned) car with a superbly designed body. Similar in many respects to the Borgward saloons of the same era, the 311 was sold in either a four-door saloon or two-door estate form (known as the Kombi) – although later, pretty cabriolet and a coupé versions were introduced.

Suspended by transverse leaf springs at both front and rear, there was no doubt that the underpinnings were long in the tooth – even for 1956. However, when the 312 replaced by the 311 in 1964, a new chassis and gearbox were finally introduced to Wartburg. However, as the bodyshell was unchanged, all the benefits of all-round independent coil sprung suspension were lost on the car’s customers because of the familiar style. Service intervals were impressive – 30,000 miles between visits to the garage - good by 21st century standards. When the 353 replaced the 312 in 1967, the chassis was carried over while the bodyshell was updated.