Wartburg 1.3 goes Kerava. How Finland got its first real quality four stroker
Part 1. How everything got started?

The whole story starts in 1999 when a friend of mine, Frank Reiher, from Berlin told me about a Wartburg 1.3 his friend had as a "surplus". The car had only 12500 km in it's cauge and had had only one owner since its date of registration 25.7.1990. This old gentleman from Schwerin, Ernst Behnke, had kept the car very well.

The seller of the car was Stefan Neutmann. He asked for DM2000 (EUR 1000) of the car. I was on holiday tour in Europe in summer 1999 and visited Schwerin. The Wartburg was perfect and we made a deal with Stefan. I promised to come and pick the car up as soon as possible.

I already had one Wartburg - the model 353W with a two stroke engine. It is absolutely the worst part of the car. You need to fix it always. This four stroke model has Volkswagen engine, model 2C. The DDR bought a production line of this engine in 1984.

In October 1999 I was able to make a trip to Germany to bring my new car home. I went to Frank's place in Berlin where we headed up to Schwerin. Stefan had borrowed temporary registration plates from the company he worked. There it was waiting for me after a freezing night. Stefan had washed it well for me so it was shiny to start a journey to its new home country.

We only had a major problem. Finland had joined the European Union in 1995 and still in 1999 it did not meet the EU regulations of the freeness to bring goods like cars from one EU country to another. I wanted to take the risk. Some day the rules must change and Finland must follow the common regulations...

We signed a contract with Stefan and changed 2 sets of keys, 3 keys in each set.

The journey from Schwerin to Lybeck is about 40 km. Now I was able to try the driving performance of my new car. It runs well. The VW engine gives a Wartburg more car feeling than the old two stroke engine. One important feature missing is the awful smell of the burning oil. I think at least the co-drivers are only happy it is missing...

On the way to Lybeck we heard some noise coming from the muffler of the car. It became clear that the 12500 km were enough for the DDR -quality muffler. With a great help of Stefan we stopped in a spare parts shop and bought a new part. In Finland the supplies for a W1.3 would be more or less limited.

When approaching Lybeck I got to know that power steering would be nice to have. It needs siginificant power to turn a W1.3 in a corner.

In summer 1999 we needed to get used to rocket high gas prices in Finland. In Germany the price of the raw oil had not affected the prices on the pump. So I filled the tank of the 1.3 as full as possible. Nothing has changed. The tank volume of the 1.3 is the same as in W353 as well as the lid of the tank which needs some practising to close.

Finally we ended up in the Finnlines terminal in Lybeck. The local police came and checked the body and chassis numbers. No problems with that at all. The temporary plates left with Stefan and Frank back to Schwerin.

The policemen had great time when they recognize some stupid Finn bringing a Wartburg away from Germany.

The russians who were bringing some Mercedes and Audis to Russia had a great time...
To the ferry I followed a Mercedes 4x4. Finnpartner was the ship bringing my new car to its new home.

Here we are inside the ship. When we arrived to Helsinki harbor I had hectic hours running here and there getting temporary plates and insurance for the car. No time to shoot pirctures. In Helsinki the insurance company dealed me an insurance for the car with a telefax which was a current document at that time. Later on this project we found out it is not that always...

Kerava, my home town, is about 28 kilometers from Helsinki. Here we are in a "push away" distance from new home town.

Finally at home. I called the car customs office asking how much tax I should have paid. They compared my Wartburg to a Citroën Saxo and thereafter calculated the tax to be FIM17444 (EUR2934). So I kept waiting... Some day the tax must change. It was October 22th. My W1.3 was moved behind the house to wait for better times...

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3