My Car Quest

October 18, 2019

The Denzel 1300 Serien Super – Revisited

by Mike –

The recent Post about the Denzel generated a lot of attention and many informative comments. For those of you who have not read the comments from this Post some of them are reproduced below.

Very interesting – a lot of knowledge about Denzel here and some words from an owner of one of the cars I photographed and another comment from the Editor of the Denzel Bulletin.

Denzel 1300 Serien Super

Tom the owner of the No. 20 car shown above points out that his car was tested and reported on in the November 1957 issue of Road & Track. I have a copy of this issue so I eagerly read the report. The Test No. 151 summary is reproduced at the bottom of this page.

As usual I learned a lot from My Car Quest readers.

Road & Track said this in November 1957

The WD (Denzel) is a little jewel to the real enthusiast who wants to have a reasonable chance of success in 1300-cc sports car racing….The car is extremely easy to drive and control, whether it be in competition or on city streets. The steering is exceptionally light, yet requires only 2.6 turns.

Reader Comments

Jim Perrin
Editor, Denzel Bulletin wrote this,

Denzel – These are great cars! The photos of the two white cars posted above by Mike G. are of the 1957 Denzel DK 151 (has race no. 20 on it) and the 1958 Denzel DK 158. Both originally had 1300 Denzel engines in them, and both still do have Denzel engines in them. Over the years, many Denzel engines were replaced by either VW or Porsche engines as Denzel parts became very difficult to obtain. The last Denzel (owned by me) was completed in mid-1960, over 50 years ago, which is why parts have been so difficult to obtain for many years. The above link to ten photos referenced by Rich Truesdell show DK 158.

I know of no evidence that the Denzel factory ever put a Porsche engine in any of their cars. An individual owner certainly could, either because his Denzel engine was not running or he wanted the power of a Porsche 1600 cc engine. Incidentally, Denzel made 1100, 1300 (two versions) and 1500 engines (two versions, both very rare). DK 151 (produced in 1957) came with a Denzel engine (see period road test with engine photos of this very car in the circa December 1957 Road & Track), DK 158 (produced in 1958) still has its original Denzel engine, and DK 160 (produced in 1960) came with a Denzel engine. Peter Denzel’s DK 164 (completed in 1959) also has a Denzel engine in it. When you study period photos of engines in Denzels, you can always tell whether or not it has Denzel cylinder heads, as the spark plugs (and holes for them in engine sheet metal) are at a much different angle than those in Porsche or VW engines. Another feature of the later Denzel engines in Denzel cars was a large-diameter full-flow oil filter, as opposed to the smaller by-pass filter used in Porsche.356′s.

Early Denzel engines were mostly VW parts. However, by the mid-1950′s, Denzel had its own crankshafts, pistons and cylinders (made by Mahle), its own cylinder heads, and its own valve train including rocker arms and push rods. Also, virtually every one of the many sheet metal pieces on the engine were unique to Denzel. The only major component that was still produced by VW was the engine case.

Tom – Owner of DK 151, the ’57 1300SS Roadster with the #20 on it – which represents the exact way it looked as it went from the dealer showroom to the Pomona Road Races in February of 1958. Photos don’t tell a lie, and they can also be a curse!

wrote this,

And, we can point out that these later Denzels (and most Denzels except for the very first ’48 and ’49 versions) had a steel tube frame and not a VW chassis, sort of Spyder-like. So, by about 1952 (or so) Denzel appears to have had a steel tube frame. And, one cannot say anything other than both the Denzel Prototype and the Porsche #1 came at the same time…there’s a reason we know this.

-Tom

Of the 75 +/- Denzel cars produced, I will concur with Jim that none were delivered with a Porsche engine.

Thanks Jim and Mike.

By the way, there’s no “lack of power” with a Denzel engine. I have the spec engine that was delivered with my Denzel in the car. It was one of the few and possibly the only one delivered with Weber 40 DCM carbs. It will flat out fly…

As Jim P. mentioned, check out the Nov. ’57 issue of “Road and Track”. The speed and handling of my Denzel was discussed there in “Test #151″.

In the late ’50s and early ’60s in Southern California, Denzel engines were indeed sold through a limited network of shops for customers. The “kits’ were expensive. But, they found their way into a few cars and even into a drag car.

There is a guy in California that has a period Denzel engine in a mid-fifties Beetle. It has about 125 horsepower…possibly more. We are waiting to see the dynomometer test results.

So, there needs to be no mention of a potential “lack of power”!

Thanks all. Thanks for the interest in the Denzel and other Coach Builts!

Herbert Putz of Austria wrote,

More about the Austrian Wolfgang Denzel (by the way Ferdinand Porsche was Austrian too) you can find on the Website of the car-dealer company he found (unfortunately in German) which still exists in Vienna at this link.

or on this website in English.

Austrian based Wolfgang Denzel was the owner or a garage that started building sports cars in 1949 using Volkswagen parts. He introduced his cars at the Geneva Auto Salon under the name of ‘WD.’ The name was changed to Denzel in 1957.

The main customer criticism about these Wolfgang Denzel built cars were their lack of power. In responds, Denzel switched to Porsche engines. One of his Porsche-powered cars, driven by Denzel, won the Rally of Alps in 1954. This victory earned Denzel much attention, praise, and publicity.

Denzel would continue in the sports car business for several years, but would later close to focus on his garage business. By the 1980s, Denzel had grown his business to include showrooms and garages in many towns and cities throughout Austria. He would become the importer for BMW, Mitsubishi, Ferrari, and Volvo, along with several other automakers.

This Denzel 1300WD is powered by a Volkswagen engine offering 64 horsepower. The aluminum bodywork rests on a tubular steel frame chassis. Top speed is in the neighborhood of 105 mph.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2009

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Denzel test Summary

 

 

This was originally published in December 2013.

Summary
The Denzel 1300 Serien Super - Revisited
Article Name
The Denzel 1300 Serien Super - Revisited
Description
Road & Track said this in 1957 - "Summed up, the WD (Denzel) is one of the best all-around dual-purpose machines we have ever found."
Author

Comments

  1. Gotta love these Denzel cars! Way cool!
    Denzel also made vintage speed engine kits for the VW enthusiast to make his car go faster. Denzel duel port heads for a 36hp VW engine with duel carbs and many other impressive features. I am trying to get the parts to one of these Denzel kits so if anyone has an extra Denzel engine head, or the 74mm crank, or engine tin etc. parts they no longer need please contact me. Thanks! Tim

  2. I’ll bet they didn’t have oil bath air cleaners on them…

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