Founded in 1886, Victoria built bicycles and began motorcycle manufacture in Nürnberg in 1901, many fitted with Fafnir engines. They also employed FN, Minerva and Zedel powerplants in the early years.
During the very early part of the 20th century they produced automobiles, with limited success. During WWI they built mostly small motor cycles and bicycles, and in the boom years of the 1920s the business thrived.
The first Victoria model that became popular was presented in 1921 and had a BMW 494cc twin cylinder SV fore-and-aft flat-twin engine with 6.5 HP, later increased to 8.5 HP.
Other models used a variety of engines, including the Columbus and the Belgian FN.
In 1923 Victoria switched to OHV HO 497cc flat-twins of their own design, later increased to 597cc. These were developed by former BMW designer Martin Stolle.
1925 was the year when Victoria added a Rootes blower to the engine which experienced track success, and Adolf Brudes rode one at an average speed of 166 kilometers per hour (103 mph) in 1926. These bikes were successful only in short distance races due to overheating problems with the rear cylinder.
Sepp Moritz, Eugen Grohmann, Hans Hoefle, Josef Theobald, Wilhelm Hofmann and H.P. Muller were very successful in the 600cc sidecar category.
Some models with Sturmey-Archer engines (built by Horex-Columbus) were added in 1928. The Victoria flat twin engine was improved, and the 1930 KR VI model already had aluminium alloy pistons, enclosed valve train and a three-speed transmission with foot operated gear change. The thirties saw the introduction of many new models with Sachs, ILO and Victoria twostroke engines with capacities of 98cc to 248cc. The model with the Horex-Columbus 346cc single became the bestseller.
The KR 8 and KR 9 models had a new inline twin of 498cc.
In the early 1930s they presented a unique machine which was quite advanced for the day, featuring a totally enclosed body which afforded protection to the rider in inclement weather and protected the mechanicals of the bike from damage from road debris, a common problem in those days. It was powered by a 500-cc 4-stroke twin.
This motorcycle was entered in a competition for a military contract. The main reason it lost to the competition (BMW and Zundapp were co-winners) was its small petrol tank which allowed only a fairly limited range.
There is evidence to suggest that the bike was inspired by a much earlier Mars motorcycle, the futuristic "White Mars" of 1921, a behemoth with a 1000-cc Maybach engine of boxer configuration and a frame of pressed steel.
The Victoria factory produced Lastendreiräder (cargo tricycles) from 1925 to 1936. In 1934 they introduced a three-wheel delivery van (Dreirad-Eillieferwagen) powered by a 175cc fan-cooled two-stroke mounted below the cabin in front of the left rear wheel. It had a payload of 250kg and a top speed of 45 km/h. It was not widely acclaimed for its beauty.
During World War II, Victoria supplied the German military with medium-capacity four-stroke machines.
In April 1945 the Victoria works were almost totally destroyed. In 1947 the reconstruction of the bombed out factory commenced and soon the production lines were again humming. The initial production consisted of upgraded pre-war models.
The first post-war model was a 38cc bicycle engine which was a great success. Its fuel tank was situated underneath the luggage carrier. Then came the KR 25 model in 1950, powered by a 247cc twostroke single.
In 1951 Victoria had these models: a 99cc twostroke, the 248cc KR 25 Aero and the 38cc bicycle engine.
Motorcycle racer Georg Dotterweich achieved a world speed record of almost 50 miles per hour on a streamlined version of 38cc machine.
1952 another model was added to the production line: the 123cc Bi-Fix. The KR 25 came with a HM (high-output) engine option with 12.6 HP.
In 1954 the 346cc "Bergmeister" with a transverse V-twin OHV four-stroke engine designed by Richard Küchen was released after three years of designing and testing. This machine gained considerable success in hill-climb trials and was regarded as a suitable side-car machine.
The relatively powerful V-Twin with four speed gearbox and shaft drive had a unique crankcase which was large enough to house the carburettor and all of the electrical and ignition components.
It was, however, a very expensive machine to produce; the high price limited sales and heralded years of financial difficulty for the company.
The Bergmeister in many ways represents the pinnacle of post-war Victoria success, even though they had a lot more up their sleeve. They produced the futuristic Riedel designed 200-cc Swing as well as the lovely scooter 'Peggy' (1955-1958), with electric start and an electric push button transmission, both firsts in those days.
Norbert Riedel, who had designed and built the avant-garde IMME, joined the Victoria team and designed the 197cc "Swing" which was presented in 1954/55, but the production costs of this beauty were too high and only a few units were sold. The scooter version of the Swing was the "Peggy", which also wasn't very successful on the market.
In 1956 Victoria introduced a four-stroke model with a 174cc ohc Parilla engine.
The end of the fifties saw the end of Victoria: it joined the ZWEIRAD-UNION group and was swallowed by Fichtel and Sachs. Some mopeds and 50cc motorcycles were the last Victoria models and the brand vanished in 1968.
The brand reappeared in 2019, built by a firm based in Nuremburg. The products are retro-styled in the Italian manner and are manufactured in China. Models include the Nicky and Peggy, both quite attractive, and the sales leaflets are also very fifties. The original Victoria logo is retained.
Adapted from an article by Hartmut Schouwer
Victoria saw the motorcycle market shrink and acquired the rights to produce the Spatz microcar designed by Egon Bruetsch, an attractive and tiny 3-seat roadster. This design, initially flawed, had been successfully re-designed by former Tatra chief engineer Ledwinka.
Victoria developed a prototype with a removable hard top and gull-wing
Victoria engines powered numerous marques including Sparta, and Viberti & Vecchietti of Italy.
Models include FM 38 and FM 38 L
FM 38 38cc 38x40mm two-stroke, built c1950-1954.
The Victoria Motorcycle Company of Glasgow, Scotland which produced motorcycles between 1902 and 1928 is unrelated to the German firm.