Zweirad-Union AG history

Zweirad-Union AG history

The Zweirad-Union AG establishment

On 8 November 1958 Dr. Burkart on the last general meeting of the two-wheeler works announced Victoria AG in the Nürnberger Carlton hotel that it was a “Homo novus”, since it had the courage and the cart from the dirt pulled. In the second breath its resolution became over the change of name of the Victoria works AG into the Zweirad-Union AG admits, what continue in Nuremberg secured. Even „Der Spiegel was “in edition December 1958 a cover story worth the events around the Zweirad-Union AG and the unification of three steeped in tradition two-wheeler manufacturers (DKW, Victoria and Express) to the magazine.

The prehistory

In December 1954 in Germany the driving licence regulation for motorcycles is changed, which has as a consequence that two-wheelers could be only operated starting from 50ccm capacity with a driving licence of the class 1. This caused a strong purchase decrease. That again had the consequence that the smaller manufacturers with all means tried your selling prices to reduce and thus through that to ever more largely becoming competition in the two-wheeler wheel industry, failure went. The sales figures in the two-wheeler business break in 1956 strongly, after ever more manufacturer Pkw's for the normal citizen made affordable. The first company, the Bismarck works, had to announce 1957 bankruptcy. To end of the yearly 63 companies of the image plane disappeared - thus was the two-wheeler industry at the ground.

The marks of the Zweirad-Union AG


Also the Victoria works AG, which were created 1886 by max of Frankenburger and max of Ottenstein, goes in the summer 1957 very badly - Victoria was practically broke! In addition it came that the extent of utilization of the then modern Victoria work was very small.
The smallstcar Victoria “Spatz” (859 pieces produced) with a Kunststoffkarosserie could itself opposite other small car types did not intersperse (reason might have been in particular the cumbersome and entrance nearly impossible with closed folded slab roof into the car) - this adventure costs alone approx. 3 million Marks to Victoria. Also the Victoria KR21 “Swing” (successor of the “V35 Bergmeister”) was due to the complex construction with electromechanical circuit very expensively in the production and technically little reliable, which led to sale problems and the financial fiasco.
With the last series „of the Swing “approx. 370 Marks loss were made, with each Victoria Parilla 400 Marks, which added director Tschech well-known. By the information of the losses of the Victoria works AG by the house bank of the enterprise Dr. Odilo Burkart, general manager of the Flicksch'en iron work company Maximillianshütte AG, for which at times at that time as “the overhauler” was valid, was alarmed. Dr. Burkart sees a chance in the two-wheeler industry becoming large and decides to reorganize the Victoria works AG however with certain demands - the creditors had to do without 30% of your demands and the capital stock from 4.95 million to 2.47 million were folded up. Only then Dr. Burkart 2.5 million Marks brought new capital into the society.

Express of works AG

End of 1958 the directors of the Hypo bank come closer again at Dr. Burkart, there the express works in new market (the express of works AG in new market in the Upper Palatinate built starting from 1884 driving as well as motorcycles with Fafnir engines from Aachen. In new market the first bicycle factory on the European mainland developed) because of bad guidance, enormous restaurant losses and many thefts in the own rows, became insolvent. Before a promise of the assumption of the express of works Dr. Burkart required a transillumination of the express of works. The leading director of the express of works was from 1929 to November 1956, Victor Lentz, which was replaced 1956 from George property man for health reasons (one said certain weakness for strong beverages to him after). This behavior of its director probably took the express staff as reason not to take it any longer all too exactly with the work discipline and the property terms. Daily express coworkers and employees smuggled large quantities of spare parts except house, them at home to finished vehicles of assemblies. Sundays you sold then your products the far under factory price to the population. How large the theft damage was, could determine no later more exactly, since a daily the Lagerkartei in flames went up.
At the end of July to 1958 had the express of works then so high bank and trade accounts payable any longer by new credits were not erased to 28.7.1958 a declaration of bankruptcy would have taken place would have had, which the banks wanted to turn away. Therefore the banks Finanzmagnaten and manufacturers for express tried to find. All did not reject, only Burkart. Him express became, as it said, “on the breakfast hang-pushed”. After a stocktaking with audit by the Frankfurt Curator AG of the express of works AG the true extents showed up trust. The difference of the reality and the balance sheet numbers at that time amounted to approx. 3.7 million Marks. Thus Dr. Burkart could purchase the express of works according to his desires. It was interested only if it the Hypo got the stock majority to the course from approximately 30% to 40% of the nominal value. In addition the express of works before the assumption had to be reorganized, so its condition. To in the middle of September took over Burkart 63% of the express shares to the nominal value from 30% to 40%. The second demand, which failed to redevelopment however, was received there the large creditors (F&S and Benteler works) no comparison out of court and places bankruptcy petition. After hard negotiations one agreed on an extraordinary general meeting, 40% of the debts to issue express. To the following shareholder meeting Burkart could increase devaluations its block of shares by sent contrived share transactions and - to on 80% with minimum capital. The financial risk of the assumption, lay like already with the Victoria redevelopment, at the Bavarian state, which deficiency guarantees for large credits granted it.


In the spring 1959 the Auto-Union AG Ingolstadt decides due to the forthcoming series production of your new small car, itself your weakest member to get rid of of two-wheeler production. Dr. Burkart took over all rights, patents, as well as a part of the machines from the autounion, at which repair was substantially involved. The price for the two-wheeler mark „DKW “was never announced, what assume rather mandatory value read.

Until in the middle of 1960 had strongly made Dr. smaller Burkart the moped pallet of the current Zweirad-Union AG. Above all well-known sales failures were eliminated, like the Italian combed Victoria of motorcycles. The bicycles were manufactured provisionally still with the express works.

The sales pallet covered at the time at that time of the Zweirad-Union:

2 DKW of motorcycles (175ccm and 200cmm)
4 Victoria moped types
2 DKW moped types
2 express moped types
and several dozen of bicycle types.

By the nearly complete extent of utilization of the manufacturing, the manufacturing costs of the mopeds and motorcycles and it sank could again economically and with profit be produced. In order to offer and as much as possible Zweirad-Union mopeds remove to the dealers an inducement, one grants them for the most usual Victoria type a discount up to 45%. Dr. Burkart wants to turn with it above all the young group of buyers away (< 25 years) from the purchase of a small car and to bring the luxury and sport form to the man. This plan came up.

Before the introduction of new marks engineers had however only once the existing models to revise and various faulty constructions (e.g. rubber suspension DKW Hummel, Victoria Avanti frontshock - short rocker was changed against long rocker with shock-mounts) to repair and/or renew.

Then in the year 1960 is it for the first time so far. Newly designed engines followed and models. The so-called “sheet metal banana” (type 115/155) developed, as well as for types like e.g. 113, 116, 126 and 156, 136 and 166. The types were equipped with engines, which permit it to bring the vehicle as moped or Mokick and/or small motorcycle on the market. If the engines of the vehicles were taken over at the beginning of still by the engine type 801 with three courses and Handschaltung, then in the course of the time until something summers 1960 on up to 5 developed courses and Kickstarter with Fußschaltung. The achievement of the engines was with the assumption still around the 2,0PS rises this just like the courses to 5,3PS with type 159. The sales figures slowly however constantly rise by this measure.

 Sheet metal banana type 115 KKR

Victoria sheet metal banana type 155
with director Tschech (right)

After Dr. Burkart the enterprise at Hans Schmidt, which to owners of the Faun truck of works (vehicle works Ansbach and Nuremberg) due to a sale of a block of shares 1962 continued to give, the manufacturing of the Zweirad-Union AG was completely charged to capacity. At first came by Hans Schmidt over the Faun of works, small article production orders to Nuremberg, later then orders for German Federal Armed Forces for small LKW's and supporters, luggage superstructures and firing devices.
One scoffed at the Zweirad-Union AG as “Nürnberger remainder utilization”. At the same time however the Zweirad-Union AG worried the other manufacturers, since with the three marks the moped production market share concentrated on approximately 1/3.

The end of the Zweirad-Union AG

1965 concerned the sales figures due to the favorable small car offer a minimum. Dr. Burkart decides the fact that the new models are only built with Zuliefermotoren and repels from there the engine development and - production.
Fichtel & Sachs stopped engine production the two-wheelers union to favour of the own engines. In the year 1966 the enterprise was then swallowed!
1968 was manufactured no more machines with the express logo, one year later also the Victoria logo had disappeared. For the international market, due to the outstanding and well-known mark, alone still the DKW logo had been used.

Responsible person for the text: Zweirad-Union-Mopeds