MZ Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

History of MZ Motorcycles


A Brief History of the Marque

Germany 1956 - 2024

1907: A bicycle factory is founded in Zschopau, Germany, the later DKW factory (DKW stands for "Dampf Kraft Wagen"= Steam Engine Vehicle, which was one of the first constructions of the factory)

MZ 125-3 1956.jpg
MZ 125-3 1956

1919: Production of a two-stroke engine begins. It is a toy engine. The people started to translate DKW with "Des Knaben Wunsch" (Little Boy's Wish). People were poor, and the toy engine wasn't a great success. But the little engine was robust and strong, and in 3 years more than 30,000 were sold as bicycle engines. This engine was called DKW = "Das Kleine Wunder" (The Little Wonder).

1922: The first motorcycles were built.

1925: The first motorcycle assembly line in Germany is installed at DKW in Zschopau.

1931: The removable alloy cylinder head leads to better cooling. In the first twenty years the factory had an output of 650000 two stroke motorcycles.

1932: The AUTO UNION is founded with the brands DKW (Zschopau), Wanderer (Chemnitz), Audi and Horch (Zwickau). The logo of the new brand were four rings like Audi still has it today.

1939: DKW has to build war motorcycles for the Nazis.

1945: The complete factory is disassembled, the machinery is confiscated by the Russians. The AUTO UNION management moves to Ingolstadt in the western part of Germany.

1946: Production of parts and engines starts again

1949: Motorcycle production starts again

1950: The IFA (Industrievereinigung FAhrzeugbau) RT 125 leaves the production line. It is an improved prewar design, robust and reliable. Later an engine with a displacement of 150cc was available besides the 125cc RT. The fan cooled versions of RT engines were used in the IWL Pitty, Wiesel , Berlin and Troll scooters.

1956: The brand "MZ" (Motorradwerk Zschopau) is introduced. In the best years 3200 employees built more than 80000 motorcycles, many of them were exported to more than 100 countries. The new ES 250 is introduced.

1957: First year of the 175cc version of the ES

1958: First GP victory at Hedemora

1962: The RT production ends.

1971: The 175cc production ends.

1976: Last GP at Anderstorp.

MZ ETZ250 1983.jpg
MZ ETZ250 1983

1983: July, 6th: a ETZ 250 as the two millionth MZ motorcycle leaves the production line

1989: The wall between the western and the eastern (communistic) part of Germany falls.

1990: The former "people's factory" is now managed by the Treuhandanstalt-office, which is intended to lead the former state-owned factories to private ownership

1991: MZ sales drop dramatically, because the old communistic market has vanished and the bikes are not attractive enough for the new market.

1992: the MuZ (Motorrad und Zweiradwerk) brand is established. Only 80 employees are left, but they are enthusiastic: the first new models, now with ROTAX four stroke engines, are a hit at the motorshows.

1993: MuZ wins some designer awards for the SKORPION model: Silver Award from the Designers and Art Directors Association (London), International Design Award (New York) and a BBC Design award.

1994: The production moves to a modern factory in Hohndorf, just outside of Zschopau. The SKORPION models are now approved for 49 states in the U.S.A.

1995: The SKORPION gains even the DOT/EPA/CARB approval for California!

Here is the homepage of the MZ (now MuZ) factory:

Most of the above courtesy Hartmut Schouwer

The mention of MZ returning to GPs prompted a look at their history.

Here are some notable dates from a long record:

1955 Nurburgring 125 K.Petuschke 5th GP
1958 Hedemora 250 H.Fugner 1st First GP Victory
1971 Ulster 350 P.Williams 1st Last GP Victory
1976 Anderstorp 250 T.Virtanen 9th Last GP

13 GP victories in all. Hope the new racer uses disc valves like the MZ racers of old.

Dave Nixon

More MZ history at Wikipedia

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