The Professor Fritz Ehn Motorcycle Museum Collection, 30 Jun 2008
Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, London
Frame no. 740
Engine no. 96251
Although little known in the UK, Neander motorcycles enjoy a deserved reputation for design innovation and exemplary build quality in their native Germany. The Neander was the creation of multi-talented Ernst Neumann, who was born in the Prussian city of Kassel – also birthplace of the Brothers Grimm – in 1871. A natural inventor, Neumann built prototype tricycles powered by steam and internal combustion engines before embarking on a career as a commercial artist in Munich and then Paris, where he designed his first motorcycle for the Griffon company. Returning to Germany, Neumann adopted the nomme de plume ‘Neander’, styling motor cars in Berlin before embarking on his career as a motorcycle manufacturer in the early 1920s. Innovatory pressed steel frames, cadmium plated, were a feature of Neander motorcycles (the design would later be licensed to Opel) which were powered by a variety of proprietary engines from the likes of Villiers, JAP, Küchen and MAG, ranging in capacity from 122 to 996cc.
Sadly, and like so many others, Neander Motorfahrzeug GmbH became a casualty of the worldwide economic downturn at the end of the 1920s. After his factory’s closure Ernst Neumann returned to the motor industry, designing small, lightweight cars powered by motorcycle engines. The arrival of the Volkswagen having rendered such vehicles unviable, Neumann returned to painting in his final years, dying in 1954 aged 83. Today his life’s work is commemorated in the permanent Neander exhibition in the Euskerchen city museum, while there is also an annual memorial ride in Bad Münstereifel.
One of the last motorcycles to leave the factory before its closure, this ultra-rare MAG-powered Neander v-twin was purchased by Professor Ehn circa 1964 from a fur trader in Vienna. After careful restoration in the Professor’s workshops by Gerhard Schaukal, curator at the Vienna Museum of Technology, the machine was used for several ‘oldtimer’ meetings, the last such occasion being circa 1995. Cadmium being no longer certified for general use, the frame has been re-plated with zinc, although the small toolbox retains its original cadmium finish. An imposing sight from any angle, this magnificent machine would grace any collection of fine