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ZÜNDAPP

16 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on ZÜNDAPP
Zündapp DB 200

By Gerry Frederics

The name means `ignition system´. ZÜND = Zündung, APP = Apparat. Zündungsapparat, Zündapp for short.

The founding of the company goes back to the year 1917 when they began to manufacture ignition systems for the automotive, truck and beginning motor cycle markets; until that time there had been a hodge-podge of systems on the market, none of which had established a distinguished track record, au contraire, failure of automotive electronics was rather common. This of course was also due to the fact that electronics as such was a new discipline and every designer was very literally finding his own way via hit-and-miss tactics. In fact, it can be said without fear of contradiction, that motor cycle electronics did not hit their stride until DKW designed a reliable electrical starter for the DKW 500-cc 2-stroke Twin of 1936.

Herr Fritz Neumeyer thought this to be a promising field and was of course to be proven right. After the disastrous Rape of Versailles ignition systems were the last thing on the minds of the German nation and Herr Neumeyer´s new company had to find other fields of endeavor. He had heard of new developments in the motor cycle field coming from England and decided to see for himself, traveling to London in 1920 to visit a motor show.

There he fell in love (we Germans fall easily in love with things technical) with what he saw. He bought a small English bike of 200-cc´s, a 2-stroke * and brought it home. This was the inspiration for his designs during the following 6 years.

* Disgracefully the make is not reported in the literature of the genre. Could it have been a `James´? James built some very interesting light weight military bikes (2-strokes all) in WW-2 – not to digress. It was this British bike which kept the love for two-strokes at Zündapp alive, even though they became famous for their large 4-stroke boxers, but built an absolutely lovely 125-cc 2-stroke as well as a 200-cc model – the DB 201 – up until the late 1950´s.

Even thought Zündapp built fabulous frames, they opted for the ubiquitous Jurisch rear suspension on these smaller bikes *, re-enforcing my opinion that this system was as efficient, or at least nearly so, as the swing-arm systems which were vastly more complex and costly to built.

* The Jurisch system was the by far most popular and common rear-suspension system for motor cycles in Germany up until about 1955, most all manufacturers using it.

By the middle 1920´s  despite the Weimar Republics disastrous economic times he had established himself as a major player on the German motor cycle scene having built and sold in excess of 25.000 units, outselling even powerhouses like Hecker or Tornax and posing very serious competition to burgeoning manufacturers such as DKW or Triumph- Nürnberg.

His success was stupendous and he decided on building a small people´s car, foreseeing the future, as it were; he commissioned young Ferdinand Porsche to design such a car for him. It was a beetle-like machine with 4 seats and rear-mounted 3-cylinder air-cooled 2-stroke engine of some 600-cc´s. A prototype was built and tested.

It proved to be a fine little car. It was this car which formed the actual basis for Porsche´s Volkswagen Beetle in 1934 *. Herr Neumeyer had bit off more than he could chew, since he had at the same time commissioned an entirely new factory to be built. The choice was stark, factory or car and he chose the first option.

* As an interesting historical aside, when Hitler was imprisoned at Landsberg in 1925, he drew the picture of what he envisioned to be a `People´s car´. This drawing looks suspiciously like the Porsche design for Zündapp, which in turn is the definite father of the `People´s car´ otherwise known as the Volkswagen; incredible co-incidence, or had Porsche been given a copy of that drawing? Well, Gaming Officials at Las Vegas do not believe in `co-incidences´!

Hitler was a fine oil painter, architect, furniture designer and lover of all motorized things, so why not a revolutionary stylist for a car?

This was a fine factory indeed, replete with a gymnasium, entertainment hall, cafeteria where the workers would eat hearty meals at cost . First Aid Station with a full time staff to handle any mishaps on the work-place and a swimming pool for the workers. This in 1930 (!) when workers in the USA and elsewhere were being paid starvation wages, labor unions were running amok with corruption and when the man on the street had absolutely no rights whatsoever when it came to the conditions of his employment; the American (rapacious capitalism without limits) `Hit the road Jack, don´t come back no more´ being the battle cry of factory management. One must read John Steinbecks `Grapes of Wrath´ to get a glimpse of what life for the worker was like then in the land of `democracy and freedom´ * — but not working in Germany for Zündapp!

* It is the more amazing how easily these very same abused working masses were mobilized against Hitler-Germany, a nation which treated its workers with dignity, respect and paid them well – including full medical care, world-class education, paid holidays, subsidized public transportation the likes of which no other country has ever enjoyed and economic conditions in general so far superior, it makes the Zeitgeist-whore historians blanch with fury; to top it all off factory management was never overpaid. One wonders about the stupidity of man, one really does —-

And I Quote Winston Churchill: `The best argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter´.

This factory was designed to produce about 60.000 units per year, an immense number for the times; that it was world-leading in every way and that it was the very first such enterprise designed with a real social conscience is a given. Today in the year 2008, manufacturers in Japan and Korea have taken this ancient German example of social conscience when building a plant. It is amazing in how many areas of human endeavor it is the Hitler-German example which is being followed, never the English, French or Polish (Ha, ha, ha, ha – just a little joke here) but always the German one, invariably.

It was the year 1932, that Herr Küchen designed the now famous 600-cc 2 cylinder boxer 4-stroke with shaft drive. This model was to be the basis for practically all Zündapp models hence. One of the exceptions was the bullet-proof DB-201, a single cylinder 200-cc 2-stroke which ended up being built, albeit with up-grades, for about 40 years.

Another machine with this longevity was the BMW single cylinder 250-cc 4-stroke, examples of which are still to be found in many countries around the world faithfully doing their duty.

The `big´ Zündapp had a super heavy-duty press-steel frame which was strong enough to have supported an engine thrice its size; the front suspension was the one commonly used in those days (trapeze-fork with a friction shock absorber) and the final drive was via shaft, the engine and the transmission being one cohesive unit. The entire machine made a massive indestructible impression and served as the basis for all new Zündapp models hence.

In the very early 1930´s, it must have been 1934 or so, Zündapp built a wonderful 800-cc 2- cylinder boxer boasting twin sparkplugs per cylinder (a world-wide first) improving ignition considerably. This great machine was a direct descendent of the original Küchen-designed 600-cc boxer.

During the Wehrmachts competition for a military bike in 1936, Zündapp and BMW won against formidable competition such as Victoria, NSU, Horex, and Standard. The large DKW was ruled out due to its 2-stroke design (lack of torque at lower revolutions), Victoria lost due to limited range and occasional overheating, Standard and Horex did not stand a chance due to limited production capacity and why on earth NSU was not considered I have been unable to determine, for the large NSU Konsul had an outstanding reputation for reliability and possessed enough torque to pull out tree stumps, or so it was said in order to make a point.

It was in 1938 that Zündapp developed a massive 1 liter 4-cylinder boxer for the purposes of establishing world speed records; it can be said without fear of contradiction, that this engine represented the epitome of motor cycle technology until well into the 1960´s. Power output was an amazing 95 hp, 125 with a supercharger – practically unheard of in those days.

The world record attempts were never made due to the outbreak of war; a prototype of the engine only existed which was confiscated (that is stolen) by the British after the war who also arrested the chief engineer. It must be noted here, that the Germans did not steal a single solitary thing from the French after the French surrender * and anyone who states such ludicrous claims about Poland ought to be ashamed of his ignorance, for Poland was and still is a backward place whose only claim to fame is their insane jealousy of all things German, for these pitiful mediocrities cannot hope to even come close.

The only vehicles the German Wehrmacht used were those which had been captured during hostilities; much less did the Germans `arrest´ engineers or designers; all such claims have been proven to have been vile Anglo-American propaganda claims just as those in WW-1 for which however British Prime Minister David Lloyd George at least apologized in the House of Commons. The British sense of decency however was thusly exhausted for they have never apologized for their absolutely insane anti-German horror propaganda and their plunder after WW-2 an activity which continues unabated; that much for our `friends´.

* And I quote . `The French now grumble that the Americans are a more drunken and disorderly lot than the Germans had ever been and hope to see the day when they are liberated from the Americans. I am informed the Germans did not loot either residences, stores or museums. In fact, the population says they were meticulously treated by the German Wehrmacht´.

As spoken by American Major General LeRoy Lutes one month after the Normandy invasion.

The military bike ended up being the civilian steed with a reverse gear and side-car drive being added. The side-car was co-designed by Zündapp and Steib. The Reich government had put no limits on costs with the result that a rig was produced which was formidable und is quasi unequalled to this day; also see the essays on BMW and on Steib.

During the 1930´s Zündapp participated in every form of racing and sporting activity (with the notable exception of international Formula One racing) and proved its mettle particularly in reliability trials and Moto Cross events during which the only real side-car competition was BMW, even though Horex, Standard and NSU fielded formidable teams in these particular events.

During the war years production was limited to that of military models and spare parts. During the waning days of WW-2 the ancient citadel of Nürnberg, a jewel of medieval architecture, filled with historic buildings, churches and museums was mercilessly bombed into the stone-age by the democratic allies who were bent on bringing us Germans democracy, freedom, civilization, decency, amputation of our very soul and thought control (oops, I slipped!).

This city alone represented more civilization than the vast majority of countries of Europe combined, boasting amongst other things the largest toy museum on earth, an unequalled musical instruments museum, an archaeological museum detailing Roman and Teutonic life 2000 years and more ago and a town square ringed by some of medieval Europe´s finest churches and public buildings. It is this town center which hosts (and hosted) the `Christkindl Markt´ a Christmas market of truly unequalled charm, love for all and civilization of the highest order.

It is home to Hans Sachs the first German play write, Albrecht Dürer one of the grandest artists in history, home to gingerbread, the finest most elegant pewter ware and home to the Meistersingers of Wagner fame. It was also Nürnberg whose city council passed the most stringent workers rights and social protection laws in the world as early as 1750, a time when workers were literally being worked to death in England and lived under the vilest conditions in France and elsewhere.

In many ways the city was a microcosm of all that is valuable in western civilization and neither England France nor I dare say Italy * can boast of such a place, it is truly unique. The war was for all practical intents and purposes over, so why bomb such a place if not for the pleasure of murdering us Germans as so shamelessly admitted to by Air Marshall `The Butcher´ Harris?

In order to protect Italian cities from allied bombings, Fieldmarshall Kesselring declared them `open cities´ and ordered all military installations in and around them dismantled. Thereby this German soldier saved untold treasures from destruction and hundreds of thousands of Italian lives from certain immolation. In true Italian fashion no one ever said: `Thanks, Fieldmarshall´.

Au contraire vile communist Italian * slime accused him of war crimes afterward.

* As an aside, the crimes committed by the Italian communists after the war, like the crimes committed by the French border on the truly insane in their Talmudic Inquisitorial brutality.

Zündapp was heavily damaged during the air raid and subsequently plundered between 1945 and 1947 by the Americans who stole everything even remotely useful. The British got into the act and stole the magnificent 1-liter 4-cylinder boxer prototype which had been developed but never built. Zündapp´s chief engineer was arrested by the British democ-Rats and grilled intensely abut the design of the engine.

Whether he was tortured has not been related, but since the British tortured Germans with a vengeance * after the war it is a safe bet that his stay in their custody was everything else but pleasant.

* British tortures were so endemic and so terrible that it staggers the mind. Practically all confessions of German soldiers were obtained by inhuman tortures of an inquisitorial nature. Some of the more absurd confessions resulted in the men thusly coerced committing suicide, such as the infamous Herr Gerstein.

Some were even tortured during their death throes by assuring the neck of the condemned man would not break and he would strangle slowly to death while British soldiers hung on his legs yanking him down. If that did not work, they would eventually cut the rope and slice the poor souls neck. An SS-officer was captured and transported to London during the war, there to be mercilessly tortured in the British equivalent to the Soviet Lubjanka prison.

Zündapp DB 200
Zündapp DB 200

This place was located in of the most elegant districts in London! It was a beautiful mansion in Hyde Park hiding a terrible secret. Long after the war when he related his experiences he was loudly defamed as a liar and a criminal. In 2007, documents were mistakenly unearthed and released by the British Archives which proved his story to have been true and correct.

Neither an apology by the British government nor a rehabilitation of the innocent man have ever been forthcoming; democracy and Anglo-American justice in action.

It was in late 1948, that hesitating new beginnings were made. Initially the bike produced was the trusty DB-201 built to pre-war specs but almost immediately upgraded as finances permitted. Already in 1953 they introduced a hyper-modern 250-cc boxer with shaft drive but production costs were deemed too high, so this beauty remained a prototype only.

It was then that they developed the KS 601 especially for the North American market where they had established a distributorship in cooperation with an American businessman who recognized a good thing when he saw it. The machine was marketed especially to North American police departments and proved to be such a hit that by 1955 Zündapp was unable to fulfill production requirements. They hit on a novel idea, teamed up with Horex and aside from selling their own bikes, sold the Horex Imperator under the name of Zündapp.

How and why they lost their lucrative contract the same year (!) is shrouded in mystery since the police departments in question were clamoring for more Zündapp bikes. Suffice it to say, they lost their contract and with it representation on the American market. Why losing a contract would result in losing an entire market is another mystery – too many mysteries for this writer – resulting in an overnight catastrophic loss of revenues.

Since Zündapp was known for their clever marketing strategies, their extreme quality, reliability and honest dealings as well as the fact that their customers in the USA did not even consider buying anything else the whole scenario smells rotten.

The company which was given the contracts as well as access to the American markets at the expense of Zündapp and Horex (whose Imperator bike had been lauded in the American press as the best bike in the world – see the essay on Horex) was Japanese Kawasaki, at the time a Johnny-come-lately no one had ever heard of previously. I do smell a slant-eyed rat!

It was around this time that Zündapp decided to return to their old dream, abandoned in 1930, to build a car. Micro Cars had become all the rage and there was a myriad of designs on the market which were promising, but lacked financial backing. One of these was the Claude Dornier designed `Delta´. This was a strange vehicle, what with a door opening in front a la Isetta and an identical one opening in the rear.

One stepped into the car and sat back-to-back on comfortable bench seats. Directly in the middle of the car was located the engine/transmission unit the whole thing transferring power via a chain to the rear wheels. The rights to this weird but extremely efficient vehicle were bought by Zündapp with the proviso of being allowed to re-design it according to their own plans.

The story of the `Delta´ does not end here. The son of Claude Dornier was to fiddle around with this concept for some time to come without ever achieving even a modicum of success. His weird creations were dubbed `The Rolling Shopping Bags´ by the German press.

Zündapp re-designed with a vengeance and spend a fortune on the project, including building an entirely new production line according to the latest technological standards. They re-named their creation `Janus´. The re-engineered car was absolutely superb. It had been fitted with a modern fame, independent suspension all around, a centrally mounted 250-cc 2-stroke engine and shaft drive.

This engine was a variation of the 200-cc motor cycle engine which was powering their DB-201 motor cycle and the highly successful Bella motor scooter/motor cycle hybrid. They enlarged and blower-cooled the engine, equipped it with a 4 speed transmission with reverse gear and final drive via propeller shaft and voila! They had a modern power plant, albeit entirely too weak for the considerable weight (425 kg) of the car – un loaded.

The location of the engine made this car the very first truly mid-engine car in the world giving the machine perfect road holding what with a 50/50 weight distribution and perfect suspension. It represented the very pinnacle of up-too-date engineering standards of the times.

The body shape had been modified, the comfort level had been increased considerably, the workmanship was on a Mercedes-Benz level and the color schemes offered were highly attractive; in addition, it could be converted into a spacious station wagon by removing the rear bench seat, offering an absolutely astounding amount of carrying capacity. The one major draw-back was the weight, entirely too much for the engine.

Consequently Zündapp was tinkering around with a 500-cc 2-cylinder Boxer 2-stroke, an idea which never took hold due to the stop of production of the vehicle after it had become obvious that public reaction was less than enthusiastic. Why on earth Zündapp did not opt for their trusty 500-cc 4-stroke boxer engine (a la BMW Stretch Isetta) from the start we will never know, but had they done so, there would have been no lack of power whatsoever, engine noise would have been minimized and who knows – maybe the car would have been a success after all.

The Janus was lauded by all and sundry, people stood and gawked, ooh-d and aah-d, but did not buy; the machine was simply too controversial, too weird for the man on the street – the herd animal forever wanting to `fit in´. After a disappointing production run of about 7000 units Zündapp management called it quits. Their wherewithal had run out, the banks were clamoring for pay-back, investors stayed away, it was a disaster.

In the meantime the motor cycle market, especially for large heavy bikes, had collapsed, the end was near.

Zündapp did the socially unthinkable – they closed their doors in Nürnberg, selling off whatever was salvageable and specialized henceforth on smaller bikes in their Munich plant. There they continued to build extraordinary small bikes, mopeds, motor scooters (the Bella motor-cycle/scooter hybrid having been a best-seller world-wide), outboard engines, sewing machines and small moped engines which were used by a small umber of manufacturers in place of the trusty Ilo or F S power plants.

As such they were quite successful, even though nowhere near their once glamorous past. They engaged in a suicidal fratricidal war with Hercules, Kreidler, Miele, Goebel, Rabeneick and other manufacturers of small motor bikes, mopeds and racing bikes, all the while ignoring the continuing onslaught from Japan; neither they nor the other German manufacturers still in business realized the enemy was rapacious parasitical Japan supported by the New World Order, not the national competition.

The sturdiness and reliability of these machines is attested to by amongst other things, an intrepid soul traveling the outback in Australia with a 50-cc moped, replete with a trailer on which he carried his supplies and his hang glider! Today in the year 2008 in Los Andes Chile are two 55-year old Bella motor motor-cycle/scooter hybrids, non-maintained doing their daily duties and were one to research Zündapp products world-wide, one would no doubt find hundreds of such examples.

It was in the early 1980´s that a Chinese conglomerate made the family an offer they could not refuse and the entire factory, all plans, all research and development ended up in China to form part of their industrial might; sadly neither Munich, nor Nürnberg, nor Bavaria nor the vassal-government in Bonn lifted a finger to save this icon of German excellence.

Zündapp DB 200
Zündapp DB 200
Zündapp DB 200
Zündapp DB 200
Zündapp DB 200
Zündapp DB 200
Zündapp DB 200
Zündapp DB 200



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