German Motorcycles

Framo Three-wheelers

A Brief History of the Marque

The Framo Company was formed by Rassmussen, the founder of DKW, in the middle of the 1920s as a supplier of accessories for his DKW company.

Framo established a reputation such that many other motorcycle manufacturers in Germany began using their parts, particularly their saddles.

The first Framo vehicle was a delivery truck, initially named 'DKW Rapid-Delivery Truck'. It was powered by a 300cc DKW 2-stroke single cylinder engine, mounted directly above the front wheel, much like the Phänomen 3-wheel truck of 1906.

The driver sat in the open, covered by an extension of the roof which covered the large box behind the driver. This and similar machines established the firm as real contenders in the delivery vehicle market, competing against the likes of Tempo and Goliath.

When DKW, Audi, Wanderer and Horch formed the Auto Union, Framo received an additional boost, since all parts-delivery and service vehicles for the various Auto Union dealerships bore the Framo name.

Rassmussen was a lover of small two-stroke powered cars and had a yen to build his own. A design was available with the prototype of an engineer by the name of Neimann from Cologne. This diminutive three-wheeler was powered by a 500cc DKW twostroke twin driving the front wheels. Rasmussen bought the patent rights for the car and set about developing it to his own vision, resulting in the Framo Stromer. Initially it was to come in four different displacements of 200, 300, 400 and a 600cc.

The only model built had a DKW 200cc single cylinder 2-stroke engine, making it tax- and drivers license free, a real benefit, for to obtain a full-blown drivers license in Germany at the time was not inexpensive.

The small power plant delivered a top/cruising speed of 40 mph, fully loaded with two adults and luggage, via a four-speed gearbox.

In order to penetrate the market, Framo decided to demonstrate the reliability of their little car by establishing well-publicized record runs on the world famous Avus race track in Berlin.

Between May 25 and June 6 1933 a Framo Stromer covered some 14,000 kilometers without a incident, stopping only to change drivers and refuel. No repairs were required, not even a change of sparkplug - this in the days when every rider, particularly those of two-strokes, carried spare plugs as plug fouling was so common.

To reinforce their documented proof of reliability, they drove the same car from Berlin to London and back, again without a single problem. These were remarkable feats for the times.

The tiny automobile, despite its good looks and winning ways, did not fare well commercially.

Their final attempt to crack the market was the four-seater, four-wheeled Framo Picollo, with a single door on the right side. The body was marine ply covered with vinyl, and it had sliding safety-glass windows. Powered by a 300cc DKW motorcycle engine, the first model was front wheel drive, with later models adopting the more conventional rear-engine rear-wheel drive configuration.

Despite all this, the Picollo did not achieve good market penetration. It was manufactured until 1938.

Sales of Framo three-wheeled delivery vans continued unabated throughout the 1930s until 1938 when the corrupt Nazi government awarded the exclusive rights to build such vehicles to their chief competitors, Goliath and Tempo. Framo was restricted to building conventional four-wheel commercial trucks, albeit small ones. These were produced until 1943, after which their output was mostly replacement parts and components for the Wehrmacht.

Postwar, the company came under Soviet control. Production resumed in 1949 under the Framo name before being changed to VEB Barkas. Thanks, Adolf.

Sources: JF

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