Barkas were manufacturers of small commercial vehicles in East Germany and these were produced in Saxony, in the factory that had previously been used by Framo. The name was changed from Framo to Barkas in 1956 and initially the Framo range of of vans, trucks and small buses continued to be produced with little change other than the name. The Framo/Barkas models were powered by a 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine which initially was derived from the IFA F9 car, and later from the early version of the Wartburg 311.
The introduction of the Wartburg 1000 in 1962 provided a new, slightly larger 992cc engine unit. Again this was a 3 cylinder, 2 stroke unit, but this engine developed 45 BHP and was significantly more powerful than the old 900cc 28 BHP unit from the IFA F9. A slightly adapted version of this new engine was used to power a totally new Barkas. The new model was of a modern, forward control, design. Later on further development work went into the 992cc engine giving it even more power.
There were a number of body varients made, some by the factory, and also, there were many conversions by coach builders. Standard versions included van, pick up and minibus. Other adaptations included camper vans, and fire service vehicles.
The Barkas was highly unusual in a number of ways. It would appear that the small engine fitted to a vehicle of this size would make it severely underpowered, but in practice the little two stroke unit proved to be well up to the job. It was not unusual to see a Barkas used for car recovery, with one car on the back, and another on a trailer giving a total weight of around 4 tons, all of this being moved by just 992cc !!! Also the Barkas was front wheel drive, this was especially unusual at the time of its inception as very few cars were FWD and it was virtually unheard of where commercial vehicles were concerned. The FWD layout allowed a large, low, flat load area making the Barkas a very useful vehicle.
The forward control Barkas remained in production for nearly 30 years, and towards the end of it's production life a new version was produced using a 1300cc 4 cylinder 4 stroke engine. The new engine was again based on a Wartburg item, this engine being a licence built derivation of the unit to the VW Golf and Polo.