Barkas Classic Cars for Sale
Barkas was an East German van manufacturer active from 1961 to 1991. The company produced 175,740 B1000 minibuses and small delivery vans during their time in operation.
Barkas B1000 Production in East Germany
Production for the Barkas B1000 began at a newly-built factory in Karl-Marx-Stadt, known these days as Chemnitz. The site was the home of production for car manufacturer Framo up until the end of the 1940s, when war reparations meant their factory had to be crated and handed over to the Soviet Union. Under the ruling GDR government of East Germany at the time Barkas was formed, the company became state owned. When Barkas began production of the B1000 in 1961, the vehicle was manufactured to put out 45 hp using a DKW-derived engine with three cylinders. These engines could also be found in the Wartburg car model of the time. Towards the end of the production run for the B1000, the model’s engine was changed to one manufactured by Volkswagen with a 1.3L four-stroke engine. In the 1980s, the two-stroke engine had become obsolete and a Ford Endura-D diesel engine was installed sporting a 1.8-liter capacity.
The Uses for the Barkas B1000
At the time, the B1000 offered something unique that set it apart from other vans in the West. Most notably, it had a high loading capacity, front-wheel drive, arms suspension and a two-stroke engine. Due to the B1000 being the only available van solution at the time in a GDR-controlled East Germany, the model was adapted for various jobs. Particularly, the B1000 came as an ambulance, a fire engine, a minibus, a police car and a prisoner transport vehicle. The Barkas B1000 was often compared to the Volkswagen when it first arrived in the 1960s. Features such as a front-mounted engine made loading easier and the spacious and easily-configurable design meant it was a versatile option. Most B1000s were made for carrying out jobs in the public service sector as private orders for B1000 vehicles were fraught with long delivery times.
Barkas and the Stasi
Infamously, the B1000 was the vehicle of choice for the Stasi state security in East Germany at the time. This organisation was feared for their brutal activities and would often use the B1000 to transport prisoners and snatch citizens. An example of a Stasi B1000 disguised as a delivery truck can be found at their former Berlin headquarters on display. In 1991, Barkas ceased production and in total 1,961 B1000/1 models were manufactured in addition to the 175,740 B1000 originals.