Tuesday, 19 September 2017
Schloss Wildeck DKW Museum, Zwickau
Schloss Wildeck stands at the centre of the pleasant little Saxon town of Zschopau. Jorge Rasmussen purchased a former textile mill on the outskirts of town in 1921 and turned it into the largest, most successful motorcycle company in the world. This history is celebrated in the little motorcycle museum in the Schloss. It is a small local museum and does not have the funding and resources behind it of the nearby August Horch museum. http://www.zschopau.de/en/tourism-leisure/wildeck-castle/geschichte
On the B174 just outside Zschopau the old DKW-MZ plant suddenly loomed ahead.
I had believed that the old MZ factory had been demolished but no, it's still there, although somewhat worse for wear. Surprisingly the building still bears the MZZ logo.
The factory remains largely empty. There is a bowling alley and a motorcycle shop.
Rasmussen's residence at the Zschopau plant is now an office.
A contemporary illustration of the Zschopau plant - "The Largest Motorcycle Factory in the World!". Rasmussen's residence is in the upper centre.
Schloss Wildeck. The castle was built as a royal hunting lodge. The oldest parts of the castle date from the 12th century.
Bust of Jorge Rasmussen
The boy's wish. DKW's first two-stroke was an 18cc toy engine.
DKW Hilfsmotor (help motor) of 1920 set the company on the road to success. These little auxiliary motors could be fitted to a normal bicycle.
DKW's first motorized vehicle was the Golen scooter in 1922. It was not a success and soon replaced by an improved version called the Lomos.
1921 DKW Golom scooter
DKW's early motorcycles.
DKW Special 200
DKW stationary motor
1930 DKW water-cooled Z motorcycle
1946 Disa motorcycle. After the war Rasmussen returned to Denmark and as DKW had lost the rights to all its patents, felt he would be able to restart motorcycle production. The Disa was based on the DKW RT125 (like the BSA Bantam). It was powered by a Villiers two-stroke motor. However, the Disa was not a success and few were made. Rasmussen went back into retirement and died in 1964.
Rasmussen company included a diverse range of products. DKW Kuhler built refrigerators and sold them through the DKW network. When Auto-Union was established in 1932 Rasmussen had to restructure his companies so that the DKW car and motorcycle arm could be incorporated into the new conglomerate. Rasmussen retained control of his refrigerator company, the Framo commercial vehicle manufacturer and the DKW-Erla aircraft company and many others.
DKW motorized plow. DKW produced a wide variety of agricultural machinery.
DKW Dienst (Service) signage
After the war DKW became defunct but the factory was reconstituted as Motorrad Zschopau (MZ)
MZ racing motorcycles
MZ racing bikes