Audi Tradition: The 3=6 Monza Story

words: Peter Elias, photos: Audi Tradition

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran in the Summer 2017 issue of the Audi Club North America quattro quarterly print magazine. If you don’t receive quattro quarterly and wish to subscribe, join the Audi Club North America HERE.

Long before Chevrolet built their “Monza” automobile (1975-1980), Auto Union (via DKW) built a “Monza” sports car in the 1950’s!

Never heard of the Auto Union “3=6 Monza”? Very few people have, especially here in the USA. It is said that the “3=6” nomenclature suggests this 3-cylinder 2-stroke was equivalent to a 6-cylinder 4-stroke engine from competitors.

DKW based this sporty front wheel drive two-seater variant with fiberglass body on the 3=6, and offered the car from 1957 to 1959. Exact production figures are unknown, but are estimated to be between 230 to 240, with perhaps 50 surviving examples known.

Early prototypes were built on the chassis of Auto Union’s DKW “F91” and “F93” vehicles. The Monza won various world speed records (in its’ class of 750 cc to 1100 cc engines) at speeds of 139 to 140 km/h (87 mph) for: 4,000 & 5,000 mile distances, 48 & 72 hours and 10,000 kilometers at the Autodromo di Monza, which was at that time one of the most modern raceways in the world.

At the time, the “3=6 Monza” could be ordered with 3 types of engines, all 3-cylinder 2-stroke types, ranging from 896 cc to 980 cc in size. Horsepower ranged from 45 – 60 SAE HP, which is a bit higher than the European “PS” horsepower.

To put the car in historical context, it’s worth comparing it to several of its German competitors at the time such as the Porsche 356A 1300 and the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1200. Based on the numbers, it would seem that a 3=6 Monza was both lighter and more powerful than the Porsche, with nearly identical performance and a lower price.


                                                    3=6 Monza 1000        Porsche 356A             VW Karmann Ghia

Cylinders                                     3 inline                        4 boxer                       4 boxer

PS (horsepower)                        50                                44                                 30

Weight in kg (lbs)                      820 (1,811)                 860 (1,900)                820 (1,811)

0 – 100 km/h / 62 mph            ~22 sec.                       22 sec.                         33 sec.

Top Speed km/h (mph)            > 140 (87)                  145 90)                        118 (73)

Fuel usage L/100 km (mpg)    9 (26.1)                       10 (23.5)                      8 (29.4)

Price in DM ($)                          10,860 ($2,585)        11,400 ($2,714)          7,500 ($1,786)

According to the book, there was even a “US version”, though with production so low and records long gone, it is nearly impossible to tell how many may have been sold here. Rumors suggest there are at least two in America today, with one in the collection of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN.