By Gerry Frederics
Ernst Neumann was a restless designer, painter, sculptor and creator of some of the very first Micro-Cars in Germany; he was forever marching to a different drummer being much maligned and even called `crazy´ by some of his lesser (to be sure!) contemporaries. He had set out to build a minimal car, envisioning the Fend concept of many years later. He did not call his creations `cars´ but rather Fahrmachinen, which loosely translated means `Machines to be driven´.
He was born 3-9-1871 in the Hessian city of Kassel birthplace of the last Russian Tsarina the very beautiful and cultured German princess Alexandra, murdered under horrendous conditions (gang-rapes etc) together with her lovely daughters, her son and loving husband, Tsar Nicolas by Jewish Bolsheviks (most of them from Hungary and Germany) at the orders of Lenin in Ekaterinburg Russia.
His birth name was Ernst Neumann, the `Neander´ being added many years later as a nom de plume.
He graduated from the Art Academy of Kassel and went to Munich to continue to study at the Art Academy there as well as to study at the technical Academy of Munich today the Technical University of Munich, the German equivalent (in every way!) to the justifiably famous American MIT. Initially he was very active as a painter, but unfortunately none of his work seems to have survived. It was probably destroyed during the horrible air raid on the non-industrial undefended city of Düren * which the English destroyed to 90% murdering about 50% of the women and children there bringing us Germans `democracy and the blessings of freedom´ via phosphor and block-buster bombs being dropped on hospitals, schools and refugee centers in inimitable Anglo-American fashion.
* It was Düren which was visited by the British Jewish businessman Mr. Gollancs in 1946 who infuriated British government barbarians by documenting the horror visited upon this civilian population center by the democ-Rats. He predictably did not make many friends amongst his brethren by pointing out British barbarities but honorable man that he was, he never changed his story and never `apologized´ for telling the truth. Thank you Mr. Gollancs!
Early on he designed automobiles the most magnificent of which was commissioned by the Berlin coach works Szabwe. This car was truly beautiful and was build of wood and aluminum, mounted on a chassis by NAG, at the time one of Europe´s premier Automobile and truck manufacturers. NAG was later acquired by competitor Büssing. The cost of this magnificent machine was stupendous. Consequently only few were produced; a beautifully restored example exists in an automotive museum in Denmark.
Soon he began to concentrate on large motor cycles (powered by British J.A.P. engines) which were successful in the market. The frame of these bikes, known as the `Neander Frame´ was sold to Opel for usage in their magnificent large bike; see the essay on Opel. Neander bikes competed successfully in many races within Germany and were worthy competition to the likes of other J.A.P. powered bikes such as Hecker, Tornax, Bücker or UT - burning up the race tracks. It was during this time-period, that he also designed and marketed `Neander´ side-cars, albeit not with too much success; the side-car market was glutted with average to fabulous side-cars – way over 50 manufacturers in all and even tough his machines were very attractive, they did not really offer anything which could not be had from any other well established manufacturer.
It was at that time that he settled in the lovely town of Düren (about 1920) where he began a lifetime obsession, namely the design of minimal-cars. Initially he had envisioned a sort of Volkswagen, a car anyone could afford. This was however a dream which he never realized. His creations were 3-wheelers suitable for competition and sporting events rather than family transportation. He used principals of light-weight aircraft construction combined with motor cycle techniques to create wild and wooly machines. As his power source he used British Norton 350-or 500-cc single cylinder 4 stroke motor cycle engines, something he did not change throughout the building cycle of these machines. He designed and build these 3-wheelers (and a minimal 4-wheeler as well) until the outbreak of the war. What he did during the war is not reported. Production of his `Fahrmachinen´ was limited to a few dozen, for the cost as with all limited-production machines was rather high and the appeal was strictly limited to the esoteric few.
Immediately after the war he set about to finish the construction of a wild and wooly 3-wheeler built according to the `Schwenker´ system. This machine had first been contemplated when he spied an Imperial Schwenker-type side car in 1936. The idea had never left him and he began designing a sports car using these principals in early 1940. The realities of war-time material shortages and the like put a temporary stop to his work after he had almost finished the project in 1943; this truly wild machine which tilted in the corners, thereby eliminating the 3-wheelers occasionally nasty habit of overturning if driven too enthusiastically was thought by him to solve a myriad of handling problems; he was determined to bring the 3-wheelers into the mainstream.
Due to interior space constraints the machine had no brake pedal – one had to pull on the steering wheel to bring the car to a halt - clearly a bit absurd and totally unacceptable on the market place. This adventurous machine shows how far removed from reality Neumann had become because the times called for simple, straightforward transportation machines such as the ones designed and built by Herr Holbein or Herr Kleinschnittger. What engine he used as well as production numbers (if any) has not been reported. He must have had some influential friends amongst the allied occupation government, for he designed and build this machine at a time, when ALL German industry was being relentlessly plundered and when Germans were in fact prohibited from producing or designing anything in access of 74 cc-s displacement; another thing which they prohibited was a German radio station transmitting on the AM waveband. The result was the German development - one can say invention of FM - today the standard of the world (surprise, surprise)!
We owe the photograph to an obscure American technical publication otherwise we would know only of the existence of such a car but would have no idea what it looked like much less, what it looked like in action. Thanks Yanks, many of you are ok! What happened to this last Neander is not known and what, if anything Ernst Neumann did until his death in 1954 has also disappeared in the mists of history; despite his never achieving his dream of a viable `Fahrmachine´ his genius is undoubted and he deserves to be remembered as a multi-talented iconoclast in motor cycle and automotive history.
Today in the year 2009 a politically correct Zeitgeist-pimp has resurrected some of these cars and has restored them to pristine condition; even tough he slobbers over ancient Harley Davidson engines (he must be mentally disturbed), his work with the Neander machines must be mentioned with respect, for his workmanship is fabulous. It is quite amazing, even German scum produces marvelous machinery!