Hungarian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Bánki-Csonka Engines

These are research notes. An article will (hopefully) ensue.

Donát Bánki was a Hungarian mechanical engineer and inventor of Jewish heritage. In 1893 he invented the carburetor for the stationary engine, together with János Csonka. The invention is often incorrectly credited to the German Wilhelm Maybach, who submitted his patent some six months later than that of Bánki and Csonka.

The Hungarian postal service commissioned János Csonka, the head of the Study Workshop of the Technical University of Budapest, to create a vehicle similar to the French design.

When the automobile first arrived in Hungary in 1896 Csonka had been working with petrol-powered combustion engines for over a decade, as these were also used in industrial applications.

The university professor – his specialtiy was not engineering – had been commissioned by Joseph Ganz in 1887 to complete an unfinished internal combustion engines the company had purchased. His partner in this work had been Donát Bánki, who also worked with the Ganz concern.

The Bánki-Csonka team not only completed the engines but invented the carburettor and several other patented solutions by 1891. The carburettor played a significant role in the international development of the combustion engine, as it ensured a constant fuel flow to the engine.

This was one of the several reasons behind the Hungarian Post Office's request to Csonka. While Csonka had previously never designed an automobile, he accepted the project and built a prototype.

Ganz manufactured the machine based on Csonka's design, and all components were locally built or sourced. The Csonka engine was 2¼ h.p., similar in many respects to the French design but differing substantially with the addition of the new carburettor.

Donát Bánki died on August 1, 1922, at the age of 63.

He experimented with motorcycles and aeroplanes and was an artist, a painter. He planned a pipeline to deliver natural gas reserves to the Hungarian capital, a project which was curtailed decades later due to the onset of WWII.

His contemporaries describe Bánki as a particularly modest man who used part of the income of his university office until 1916 to support poor students.

The Maybach company is often credited with the invention of the carburetor, but Bánki and Csonka are acknowledged by several German institutions as the primary source.