Originally designed as invalid cars by Czech brothers František and Mojmír Stránský in 1942, the first “Oskars” (“car on axle”) were simple tube-framed cyclecars with a seat next to an engine, inspired by the British Morgans. Around 10 were built. With refinements, and adopting motorcycle sidecar construction techniques, the brothers Stránský covered their new designs in a leather-like vinyl, Igelit, to save both weight and raw materials costs. It was a breezy ride at best! The odd gap in the bodywork behind the doors is not damage – it’s an air scoop to feed cooling air to the engine.
The Oskar’s moderate success in 1950 saw the Czech government get involved, and Jawa-powered models, the 250 and 350, were produced under the direction of František and Mojmír. The Stránský-Velo Oskar became known as the Velorex in 1954, and was made available by the Czechoslovakian Invalid’s Organization to disabled Czech citizens only after rigorous medical exams, such was the demand. František died in a testing accident in 1954, and Mojmír was released after refusing to join the Communist Party.
By 1960, the Velorex came to be known as the 16/250 and 16/350, dependent on engine size. Volume production was underway by 1963, and half the units were exported to other eastern European countries. The 16/350 had become somewhat luxurious, with a 12 volt starter! Weight had swollen to 682 pounds, and performance was up to 53 MPH.
Production of the 3-wheeled Velorex ended in 1971; it was immediately replaced by a fiberglass-bodied, 4-wheeled model, the Velorex 435. It was not nearly as successful as its three-wheeled brethren.
As of 1996, records indicate that almost two-thirds of all three-wheelers ever licensed in Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic are still registered for use!
Manufacturer: Vyrobni druzstvo Velorex
Country of Origin: Czechoslovakia
Drivetrain Configuration: Tube frame, rear-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: Parallel-twin two-stroke, air cooled 344 cc, 16 HP
Transmission: 4-speed, forward or reverse
Top Speed: 85 kph; 53 MPH
Years of Production: 1950-1974; various models
Number Produced: Approximately 16,000 all models; 12,000 16/350 models
Original Cost: Unknown