MYMSA (Motores y Motos Societé Anonyme) were a Catalan – Barcelona based manufacturer of motorcycles and lightweight vehicles active from 1953 to 1963, but their full story starts long before that. In 1929, the Aragall brothers (Francesc and Guillem) started a business for general automobile repairs - Tallers Aragall. Francesc had two sons, Josep and Jaume, who both joined the family business, serving an apprenticeship whilst studying at the Industrial Technical College in Barcelona.
By the end of the 1940s, Tallers Aragall was a thriving enterprise and Josep and Jaume were looking to expand. They saw motorcycles as an economic form of transport but were disappointed in what was available, so they set about designing their own. A 125cc 2-stroke engine with two ports (like a German DKW) is designed by Josep, whilst Jaume designed a larger capacity diesel engine. Initially, they had hoped to produce an entry level motorcycle and a lightweight commercial vehicle. They fitted their 125cc engine into an Ardilla frame, adding parts to complete a roadworthy bike. They want to produce motorcycles based on their own engine, but the Franco-Spanish administration is a recurring obstacle in the MYMSA story. The production of vehicles was strictly controlled, requiring Government authorisation. The brothers had to wait nearly 2 years before they were authorised to produce for retail. These first MYMSA motorcycles, now named the A -1 went on sale in 1953 and this was the commercial birth of MYMSA.
Each year of production saw subtle changes made to their models, eventually producing a 175cc engine. In tandem with this, they produced the Rana 3R, a tricycle van. In 1955, they produced a prototype 4-wheeled MYMSA 4R diesel van, powered by a two-stroke diesel 500cc engine and shown at the 1955 Barcelona Trade Fair. Sadly, the administrative obstacles were posed again and the requested permits to build 50 of the 4R trucks that they applied for were rejected.
In 1958, MYMSA introduced the X-13. This was seen as the future with a pressed steel chassis and the newer 175cc engine. The new chassis would speed up and simplify production thereby reduce costs. Unfortunately, poor quality raw materials available in 1950s Franco-Spain caused multiple problems, with frames splitting, particularly on the front forks. The significant costs of recalls and repairs meant that ultimately, the X-13 turned into a financial nightmare and was a significant factor in the decline of MYMSA.
Still determined to innovate, in 1959 the Aragall brothers introduced the remarkable X-3 Rural. At first glance, it looks like a variant with an added sidecar, but this is not the case, and it was a genuinely, innovative three-wheeler agricultural machine. The 175cc engine starts on petrol but can switch to heavier oil, important for costs and a solution to the poor-quality fuels of the time. It had a 6 forward, 2 reverse gear transmission with drive to both rear wheels via a locking differential and had a Power Take Off (PTO) that permitted the driving of accessories. Many farmers of the time used it like a small tractor.
The decline and closure of MYMSA was due to several reasons – but the most significant were the punitive, retrospective costs, of production of the X-13 and the significant obstructions imposed by the then Government, particularly the refusal to allow production of the 4R van or of a small car. Finally, in 1961 new regulations limited mopeds to 50cc (having previously allowed 75cc without a licence). The popular Z-61 MYMSA (74cc) now required the rider to be licenced and insured and effectively killed the market for the Z-61.
By the time it ceased trading, MYMSA had produced over 11,000 motorcycles and small transport units with over 25 models and numerous prototypes on 2, 3 and 4 wheels.
Today, the cousins Josep and Jaume Aragall, who are the sons of the MYMSA founders of the same names and who were also successful engineers in their working life, have joined together to create a lasting monument to the work of their fathers. Based in a large building on the outskirts of Barcelona, they have created a MYMSA Collection and Museum. The building has three distinct areas; a large workshop, a storage area where MYMSA motorcycles in various conditions await restoration or provide spare parts; and third, a large display area where there are restored (or in some cases replicas) of all the motorcycles that MYMSA produced. They are displayed in chronological order and the walls carry a photographic archive of the marque along with numerous items of period publicity material.
The MYMSA Collection does not open to the public on a regular schedule, but the cousins are delighted to receive visits by arrangement. They can be contacted via their very detailed and informative website: www.mymsa.cat
Article by: Mike Ricketts
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