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 DKW - 350 Cloverleaf threecylinder
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Capacity : 350
Model : Cloverleaf threecylinder
Production : 1954 - 1956
Category : (R) Racing


350/3 "Cloverleaf' -1956

Unfulfilled promise

DKW's fundamental place in the development of the two-stroke engine is indisputable. Nevertheless, when the marque pulled out of racing at the end of 1956, the promise of its three-cylinder racer was still largely unfulfilled, with only two third-place results in the 1955 and 1956 World Championships to its credit.

Unorthodox Layout

Established in Ingolstadt, since the original factory at Zschopau had fallen under Russian control at the end of WWII, DKW unveiled its new 350cc three-cylinder racer early in 1952. The unorthodox layout, with two inclined cylinders and one horizontally disposed "working cylinder," was intended to avoid the disadvantages of rotary valves.

Light but Unreliable

Though the machine was incredibly light (200 lb), power output (31 hp) and reliability were initially questionable. Up to 1954, its career was a disaster. The DKW was outclassed in terms of sheer speed and its frame was prone to break. In 1954, its development was taken over by Helmut Gorg, who boosted power output by 25 percent, with a fairing developed in a Munich wind-tunnel. The frame was reinforced, the telescopic front fork was replaced by a leading link unit inspired by that of the Guzzi, and huge hydraulically operated magnesium brake drums filled the wheels. But the DKW had peaked too late. In 1956 the factory announced that it could no longer meet the prohibitive cost of racing.


Engine: 349cc (53x52.8mm) air-cooled three cylinder; 120-degree firing interval

Power Rating: 42 hp@ 10,500 rpm

Valves: two-stroke

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive

Suspension: leading links (front); swing ann ( rear)

Brakes: hydraulically actuated twin leading shoe 12.2 inch drums (front & rear)

Wheels: 3.00x19 inch (front); 3.50x18 inch (rear)

Weight: 324 lb

Maximum Speed: 120 mph (unfairecl); 143 mph (faired)


The three-cylinder DKW 350 project took too long to come to fruition, though il foreshadowed the layout of a future generation of racers.


Le fichier Moto Passion réalisé par François-Marie Dumas réunit près de deux mille photos accompagnées d'un historique très complet des machines présentées.
Il sera progressivement mis à jour ici et toute information complémentaire est la bienvenue sur info@moto-collection.org.

Cette documentation unique, qui constitue sans doute l'encyclopédie la plus exhaustive jamais écrite sur l'histoire de la moto, a été réalisée avec l'assistance de nombreux spécialistes dont principalement Didier Ganneau, Christophe Gaime, Mick Woollett, Jean Goyard, Bernard Salvat, Christian Rey, Yves Campion, Helmut Krackowizer, Michael Dregni, Michel Montange, etc. que je remercie ici.

Disponible sur demande :
- Les fiches originales sur papier
- Les photos et archives signées de mon nom en haute définition ou les documents originaux.
Me contacter sur info@moto-collection.org pour les conditions et droits d'utilisation.