Daily demonstrations at 11am, free with admission!
In the period immediately after the Second World War, many talented people wanted to “have a go” at producing their own vehicle.
One such person was a Michael Hoffmann, a shop foreman from Munich who designed and built this extraordinary vehicle of mostly hardware store and junkyard parts between 1949 and 1951. The tiny engine, slow speed, and only three wheels meant the “car” was considered a motorbike, and thus was tax-free and no license was required to operate it.
Its enormous width derives from its most interesting mechanical feature: its rear-wheel steering. A large rectangular frame structure supporting the entire motor is pivoted at its forward end on a massive kingpin. A complex system of levers provides the steering, which moves the entire cradle from side to side in a wide arc. The result is a lethal cocktail of automotive engineering “don’t’s”- extreme front track width combined with an ultra-short wheelbase giving major straight line instability, and rear-wheel steering which can easily bring loss of control at any except very slow speeds, to which any forklift driver can attest.
The central position of the steering kingpin in the car means there is little room for the driver and passenger up front, and the original bench seat has been replaced by two smaller seats, allowing slightly better access to the cramped cabin over the wide sills.
According to Gottfried Gerhäuser, the restorer, the car’s original asymmetric roof/windshield line was original and kept that way deliberately during the 1996 restoration. His description of the handling being like that of “a drunk leaving a hotel bar” is right on target!
Perhaps this interesting and eccentric vehicle can be used to illustrate the reason why, in this modern day, one has a myriad of safety regulations to contend with when building a vehicle!
Manufacturer/Builder: M. Hoffmann
Country of Origin: Germany
Drivetrain Configuration: Rear-engine, rear-wheel drive three-wheeler
Engine: Air-cooled ILO 200cc two-stroke single, approx. 6.5 hp
Transmission: 3 speed manual plus reverse
Top Speed: Approximately 28 MPH
Years of Production: 1951
Number Produced: 1
Original Cost: Unknown