N of course the people were in the early days of the GDR keen on affordable, private cars. The state authorities gave the go-ahead after the Soviets had instructed them to turn the East German state into a shop window for the western world.
The IFA P70 is based on the DKW F8
Under-motorized scooter mobiles would not have suited this lofty claim. That is why the DKW F8, which had been built in Zwickau since the prewar period, was to be followed by a more contemporary car for little money that offered enough space for four people - the later Trabant. But because there was a lack of body sheet metal and investments in consumer goods production were scaled down, the idea of the GDR Volkswagen crumbled at first. However, it was forbidden to continue building the F8 oldie by hand. That is why an interim solution was found that turned out to be surprisingly perfect and later to IFA P70 .
The Zwickau technicians continued to use the DKW F8 base including the screwed-on hardwood skeleton, but covered it with plastic instead of synthetic leather-covered plywood. It was duroplast, popularly known as 'plastic'. This exotic material, made of cotton waste soaked in phenolic resin, was transformed into large-scale bowls under high pressure and then nailed to the wooden frame. In 1955, the East Germans were the first to produce large numbers of plastic bodies.
IFA P70 with 22 HP
The IFA chassis P70 with the rear floating axle and the independent front suspension remained almost the same as with the F8. The two-cylinder and three-speed gearbox, rotated by 180 degrees, was now sitting - again across - in front of the front axle of the IFA P70. So you could shorten the wheelbase by an impressive 22 cm and still gain more interior space. The slot-controlled two-stroke engine of the IFA P70 is based on the F8 engine, but already has a light metal head with a central spark plug. Thanks to higher compression and a new flat-flow carburetor, the 0.7-liter engine of the IFA P70 was boosted to 22 hp.
The gearbox and gearshift were also from the F8, and it wasn't until 1959 that the multi-plate clutch, which ran in oil, gave way to a two-plate dry clutch . New on IFA P70 was the steering system from the larger three-cylinder F9; What remained was the 12-volt on-board network with Dynastart system, in which the alternator also functions as a starter.
With the IFA P70, you get in on the right
If you want to start the IFA P70, have to get in from the right and slide over to the steering wheel - only the passenger door can be locked on the IFA P70. This safety measure, which was common at the time, was intended to prevent people from entering the car from the dangerous side of the road. The IFA P70 is started by means of a starter button on the left under the fuse box, after the ignition current has been supplied with the key. Then the two-stroke engine runs, initially barking unevenly, only to lapse into the typical Rengdengdeng sound.
The unsynchronized gearbox of the IFA P70 is amazingly easy to operate: all you have to do is pull the old-fashioned cane lever or press and hold then rotated left or right. The first gear is at the bottom left - be careful: at the bottom right, you engage reverse gear, there is no lock in between. For the second gear, pull up the gearshift lever and turn it to the right. If you dare to go into the third, the knob must be moved to the left. All forward gears of the IFA P70 have a freewheel function, the mechanics immediately restore the frictional connection when accelerating. Of course, the freewheel can be locked - in the acceleration phase by means of a small toggle on the right under the instrument panel.
IFA P70 with hard chassis
There is enough space for the feet in the IFA P70, front left In the footwell, only the low beam light switch protrudes from the floor. All pedals are fixed in a standing position. The two front seats can be moved lengthways, but the backrest angle cannot be adjusted. The speedometer of the IFA P70 reaches up to 120 km /h, but the IFA P70 does not manage more than 95 km /h. The consumption with forced driving is 7 to 9 liters /100 km, with oil in a ratio of 1:25 to the fuel. To refuel, the IFA P70's bonnet has to be opened - from the outside and by no means by means of a Bowden cable from the inside.
The chassis of the IFA P70 is extremely hard, especially the bobbing rear floating axle offset in view of the unfavorable weight distribution and the narrow one 16 mm tires by a few centimeters sideways. The only thing that helps here is to keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel. The brakes also require a whole lot - they are not hydraulic, but mechanical cable brakes that use drums to prevent the IFA P70 from moving forward.
It gets loud in the IFA P70
The torsional stiffness is due to the stable and heavy wooden frame for the conditions at the time without faults or blame. The IFA P70 weighs in because of its thick sheet metal wheel arches and the by no means light duroplastic planking30 kilos more than the F8. The fact that engine and exhaust noise in the IFA P70 can be heard almost undamped in the interior was not considered a point of criticism in the 1950s. The trunk of the sedan is not accessible from the outside. To do this, the backrest can be folded down or the entire rear bench can be lifted out. The spare wheel is in an extra compartment under the rear, which can be reached by removing the middle section of the bumper. To do this, however, two cap nuts on the bumper horns have to be loosened beforehand. At the time, numerous customers retrofitted a trunk lid on the IFA P70 on their own.
The IFA P70 sedan has front sliding windows; from 1957, hinged front triangular windows were part of the standard equipment. Incidentally, there were initially wipers running in opposite directions, which gave way to parallel wipers in 1956. The trim strips in the bumpers, in the grill, on the top of the fenders and on the wheel arches as well as the gutters and window frames are made of polished aluminum. And the hinges of the hood, which is also made of plastic, are chrome-plated.
The interior with a fabric canopy is sparsely furnished. Only the round speedometer in the plastic dashboard demands attention in the IFA P70. This instrument cluster contains a high beam control and a simple coolant temperature display. The glove compartment is on the right, but without a cover. There are synthetic leather storage pockets in the doors and the space between the fabric-covered seats is occupied by the handbrake lever.
Only a few limousines of the IFA P70
After the initial cooling water heating, the IFA P70 got an improved fresh air system in 1956 Blower manifold heater with defroster nozzle for blowing out the window. In 1957, the sedan was further modified: flatter door handles, new flat-flow carburetors, more durable but still unsynchronized gearbox with 'clutch brake' for easier shifting, quieter exhaust with better fan heating, softer suspension.
Series production of the IFA P70 ( internally referred to as F8 K) ran from July 1, 1955 to 1959. Around 30,000 sedans - as well as almost 7,000 station wagons and coupés - were delivered, many of them for export. Buyers in the GDR paid a very proud 9,250 marks for the notchback version. In contrast to the chic coupé, only a few hundred sedans survived; they were brutally worn out in everyday life. It's actually a shame: The scene now knows of a maximum of two dozen IFA P70s in good condition.