Puch

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For other uses, see Puch (disambiguation).
Puch AG
Type Public
Industry Vehicle
Founded 1889
Headquarters Graz, Austria
Key people Johann Puch, Founder
Products Automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles, mopeds
Revenue part of Magna Steyr
Employees ~1,100 (1912)
Website Puch-bikes.com
Motorcycle Puch 500 VL with sidecar Felber, built 1937

Puch is a manufacturing company located in Graz, Austria. The company was founded in 1889 by the industrialist Johann Puch and produced automobiles, bicycles, mopeds, and motorcycles.

Pre 1919[edit]

Johann Puch first produced bicycles in 1889 in a small workshop called "Fahrradfabrikation Strauchergasse 18 a" in Graz. Ten years later he founded his company, "Erste Steiermärkische Fahrradfabrik AG" (en: "First Styrian Bicycle Factory AG"). Puch's company became successful through innovation and quality handicraft, rapidly expanding over time. It soon began producing motorcycles and mopeds.

The main production plant, later called "Einser-Werk", was constructed in the south of Graz, in the district of Puntigam. Production of engines was started in 1901 and cars followed in 1904. In 1906 the production of the two-cylinder Puch Voiturette began and in 1909 a Puch car broke the world high-speed record with 130,4 km/h. In 1910, Puch is known to have produced sedans for members of the imperial family. In 1912, the 38 PS (horsepower) Type VIII "Alpenwagen" was developed.

In 1912 Johann Puch went into retirement and became the company's honorary president. In that year the company employed about 1,100 workers and produced 16,000 bicycles and over 300 motorcycles and cars annually. During World War I, Puch became an important vehicle supplier to the Austro-Hungarian Army. However with the collapse of the empire following the War, the market for automobiles shrank and production was discontinued.

Between wars[edit]

In 1923 an Italian engineer Giovanni Marcellino is said to have been sent by the banks to wind up the Puch factory in Graz. Instead of which, within a few weeks he had settled down to live in the town, designing and then producing a new version of the split-single. Taking his inspiration from industrial counter-piston engines, the new engine benefited from the improved breathing of the Italian original, to which he added asymmetric port timing.[1] In 1931 Puch won the German Grand Prix with a supercharged split-single, though in subsequent years the split-singles of DKW did better.[2]

In 1928 the company merged with Austro-Daimler and became a part of the new Austro-Daimler-Puchwerke. This company in its turn merged in 1934 with Steyr AG to form Steyr-Daimler-Puch.

WWII[edit]

Like all enterprises of its kind, the Puch production plants had to change to arms production during World War II. The existing capacity was insufficient, therefore a second plant was constructed and opened in 1941 in Thondorf, Graz. In the three original assembly halls, luxury vehicles for the American market were produced. Steyr-Daimler-Puch is one of the companies known to have benefited from slave labor housed in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp system during World War II. Slaves from the camp (who had initially been worked to death in quarries) started to be used in a highly profitable system used by 45 engineering and war-effort companies, and amongst them Puch had an underground factory built at Gusen in 1943.

Post-War years[edit]

During the period immediately after the war, late 1945 to 1947, the factory was requisitioned and run by the British Army (R.E.M.E.) who used the facilities and what remained of the workforce for the repairing and servicing of British and American military vehicles. In 1949, an assembly cooperation agreement was signed with Fiat in Turin. The 1950s to the mid-1970s saw a sharp increase in production of motorcycles, bicycles and mopeds. Even though Puch was a part of Steyr-Daimler-Puch, it still produced products under its own name, as well as for Steyr-Puch and other companies. Puch gave up racing in the 1950s and split-single production ended around 1970.

Puch scooters[edit]

The late 1950s saw strong sales of the Puch 125cc two-stroke single motorscooters, which had three gears shifted from the left twistgrip. These machines developed a reputation for reliability and were popular for daily commuting, providing good weather protection and ease of use. In this role their moderate performance, with a top speed of around 45 mph, was not a problem. Later models had a 150cc engine and foot-operation, giving better performance of 6 hp instead of 5 hp but retaining the three gears.

Puch mopeds[edit]

Puch MS50 Moped

Puch produced the Puch Maxi, Puch Newport, and MK mopeds, which were popular from the late 1970s to early 1980s.

In Austria and the Netherlands, Puch mopeds played a big role in the 1960s popular culture.

Puch mopeds in Sweden were, and still are, very popular. They were all named after US states, except the Maxi and the Monza.

Some of the more popular models were:
The Dakota (VZ 50) 50cc fan-cooled, 3speed gearbox. In fact, the most popular by far.
The Florida (MV 50) 50cc fan-cooled, 3speed gearbox.
The Alabama (DS 50) 50cc fan-cooled, 3 or 4speed gearbox.

The oldest mopeds often had a 50 cc fan-cooled engine with a 1 or 2speeded gearbox (cric-crac) and newer mopeds had many different, (always 50cc), engines such as:
Fan-cooled, 3speed (Dakota, Dakota 3000, Nevada)
Fan-cooled, 4speed (Mexico)
Wind-cooled, 3speed (Arizona, Monza M50, Montana, Monza 3C)
Wind-cooled, 4speed (Monza 4speed)

Puch BMX[edit]

Puch began making BMX bikes as early as the 1970s. Many different models appeared including the Challenger, Invader and Trak Pro. In 1981 they worked with Speed Unlimited in Wayne, New Jersey to manufacture a line of high end BMX race bikes. Speed Unlimited also made bikes for Hutch and their own brand Thruster. The model they made for Puch was the Trak Pro. In 1981 Puch also began sponsoring BMX racers across the United States. The green, black and white uniform was soon showing up at BMX tracks across America, especially in the Northeast. You can see a collection of Puch's at the BMX Museum - Puch Collection

Puch Maxi[edit]

Main article: Puch Maxi
Puch Maxi S Mofa

The Maxi is one of Puch's most well known machines along with the Magnum and Newport models. The Puch Maxi is a moped fitted with a single cylinder, 49cc, two stroke engine .

The engine produced around 2hp and could propel the rider at speeds of 28 mph (48 km/h).

It was started using the pedals which could be engaged and disengaged from the engine via a starting lever so it could be ridden as a normal bicycle.

Later models did not have pedals, and instead were started with a kick start mechanism.

Puch motorcycle marketed as the "Twingle"[edit]

Puch motorcycle 250 SGS

Puch is perhaps best remembered in the US for importing the SGS 250, the first and last split-single seen there. Marketed by Sears in their catalogue as the "Twingle",[3] it was styled much like a BMW of the 1950s and 60s. The layout had been popular in Europe between the wars because it improved scavenging, and hence fuel consumption, a feature considered less important in the US. New models after World War II had an internal re-arrangement which improved piston lubrication, reducing wear on the most vulnerable part of the engine, while an early system of pumping the two-stroke oil, along with the twin spark-plug ignition, greatly improved day-to-day reliability. Despite the racing heritage and performance potential of the split-single engine, this particular Puch model, with a top speed around 110 km/h (68 mph), was at a disadvantage against the loop-scavenged two-strokes that arrived in the late 1960s. A total of 38,584 of the SGS motorcycles were produced between 1953 and 1970.[4]

Legacy[edit]

In the late 1980s, the company was being squeezed out by competition. In 1987, massive restructuring of the company led to the end of the production of two-wheelers in Graz. The company's technical know-how was always better than its marketing and commercial success. The Puch motorcycle company was sold to Piaggio, maker of the Vespa, in 1987 and still produces bikes under the name "Puch". When the bicycle division of Piaggio, which also included Bianchi Bicycles was sold to the Swedish Grimaldi Industri group in 1997, Puch became part of Cycleurope. In 2011, Austrian entrepreneur Josef Faber took control of the brand, with the 2012 line of bicycles manufactured by Cycleurope in France.[5]

Steyr-Puch, assembler of four wheel drive vehicles and parts, still exists next to the Piaggio division.

The so-called "Einserwerk", the first production plant, shut down in the early 2000s. The historical assembly-hall was declared a protected industrial monument. When Graz became European Capital of Culture in 2003, a Puch museum was opened in one of the former assembly halls [2].

Puch sold the entire production line of Puch Maxi Plus to Hero Motors when production ended in Austria. It spawned the Hero Puch that sold extremely well in India from 1988 till end of 2003 when production ended.[6]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Puch's two-stroke double-piston engines asymmetric port opening of 1923 Puch Marcellino design, inspired by industrial counter-piston engines.
  2. ^ Walker, Mick (2000), Mick Walker's European Racing Motorcycles, retrieved 2011-08-28 
  3. ^ "Allstate 250" 1966 from Sears. Note that "front" and "rear" pistons are labelled in reverse in this diagram.
  4. ^ Friedrich F. Ehn: Das große Puch-Buch. Weishaupt, Graz 1993, ISBN 3-900310-49-1 (German). 38,584 Puch 250 SGS were produced from 1953 to 1970.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Puch Maxi Plus Moped

External links[edit]