Wednesday, December 23, 2009


A military museum has recently unleashed several interesting motorcycles and cars to an unsuspecting public, and if that sort of thing suits you, I suggest you take a gander at the Cosmopolitan Motors (of Seattle) website. Scroll past the Ferraris and Porsches, and you'll find what looks like an original-paint 1942 Victoria KR35, a 350cc ohv Pioneer.

These are rare machines from the last year of Victoria production during the war, as their factory was shortly afterwards bombed flat. It could make an inexpensive and interesting runabout; early German motorcycles are rare in the US, and the ohv four-stroke single is an attractive proposition.

This DKW NZ 350 is a 350cc two-stroke single with pressed-steel frame and forks. I owned the twin-cylinder version many years ago (SB500A - uncle to the postwar Adler twins, who were then copied by Suzuki, Yamaha, etc).

This bike looks to have been repainted, but is complete and perhaps correct, it's difficult to tell from photos (caveat emptor and all that). My DKW had good performance and handled very well, with a hand-shift and electric start - this bike will have the hand shifter, but no button, not that it needs it (nor did I need mine - two-strokes are very easy to kick over).

To be honest, what caught my eye in this military haul was a pair of Czech-made Tatras! One of my favorite cars, with terrific aerodynamic styling and the engine 'out back'. The Czech motor industry was so innovative and full of beautifully engineered cars and motorcycles between Wars... much of this history has been dimmed by Eastern Bloc offerings postwar, but even in the early 1950s Jawa built an overhead-cam parallel twin 500cc motorcycle, whose nacelle design Edward Turner promptly stole for Triumphs!

There are two Tatras on offer - a 1937 model 97 four-cylinder in grey, and a very desirable Model 87, which has an air-cooled v-8 out back! I've had a drive many years ago in a v-8 version, and it was like a heavy Porsche on steroids; great sound, decent power, and an unforgettable body style.