|1969 Velorex 16/350 Three-wWheeler|
Beginning in 1936, two brothers, František (1914 – 1954) and Mojmír (1924-2011) Stránský, the owners of a bicycle repair shop in the village of Parník near Česká Třebová, began the design of a small, cheap three-wheeled car, inspired by the Morgan Motor Company’s three-wheelers. In 1943, they built their first prototype using steel tubing wrapped by dural sheet metal and some bicycle parts (later these would be replaced by parts from motorcycles). They named the vehicle Oskar (“kára na ose,” or “car on axle”).
In 1945, the brothers built their first batch of cars, using leather cloth instead of sheet metal as the bodywork. Three vehicles were powered by 150cc ČZ motorcycle engines, three with six horsepower, 300cc PAL engines and six with 250cc Jawa units. The price was about a quarter of the cost of a typical car.
The post-war Czechoslovakian auto industry was unable to meet popular demand for vehicles, resulting in long waiting periods and quotas. Several models of small cars had been built either by amateurs or in small runs (e.g. Kreibich, TRIGA Tripolino and JAB).
In 1950, the Stránský’s workshop was transferred to Velo, a small manufacturing company in Hradec Králové, later renamed to Velorex. In 1951, the machinery and six workers were moved into a new plant in Solnice. During that year, 120 Oskar 54 vehicles were produced; a year later, 180; and in 1954, 80 workers produced 40 vehicles per month. On January 21, 1954, František Stránský died when a test prototype crashed. His brother, Mojmír, refused membership in the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and was fired. In 1956, the vehicle’s name was changed to Velorex – Oskar and then just to Velorex. In 1959, the company produced 120 vehicles per month. In 1961, part of the production moved into a new plant in Rychnov and Kněžnou. The maximum speed of the car was 18 mph.
In 1963, production of the newly designed “Model 16” started (fitted with either ČZ 175 or Jawa 350 type 572 engines); and the model was modernized again in 1968. In 1971, production of three-wheeled cars stopped and the company switched to production of a four-wheeler, the “Model 435-0”, which featured the Jawa 350 type 572 – 04 engine. Problems in design and manufacturing, as well as the inability to compete with higher-category cars (including the cheap Trabants), made the four-wheeler a commercial failure, and its production was stopped in 1973. Plans to produce a small car similar to Fiat 500 or a rickshaw-like truck did not materialize.
Spare parts for Velorex vehicles were first produced in the Solnice plant then in Rychnov nad Kněžnou after 1975. In the mid-1980s, India tried to obtain a license to produce the three-wheelers; the deal failed because the original tooling no longer existed.
About half of the production was exported to Eastern Bloc countries (Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, East Germany) – 7,540 vehicles in total. In Czechoslovakia, the demand exceeded the supply and the new cars were sold only to the disabled after thorough examination by an official commission. Part of the production was allocated to companies and organizations.
As of 1996, 62.5 percent of the three-wheelers sold in the Czech Republic and Slovokia were still registered. As of 2006, the vehicle can be still seen occasionally and it has obtained cult-like status among its owners. Several Velorex clubs exist in the Czech Republic. Rallies are regularly organized in Boskovice (last in 2007) and in Lipnice nad Sázavou, inside the Lipnice Castle. Until 2000, only the motorcycle driving license (A) was required, afterwards the B1 license (car from age of 17).
- One of 12,000 motorized three-wheelers made in the former Czechoslovokia
- Black and tan canvas/metal exterior with matching interior
- Two-seater Jawa two-stroke, two-cylinder, 350cc engine with forced air cooling
- Four-speed sequential manual transmission
- Cruising speed: 37 mph (maximum 53 mph)
- Weight: 683 pounds unloaded, maximum 1102 pounds
- Length: 10.1 feet, width: 4.6 feet and height: four feet
- VIN: 572002946
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This car is currently located at our facility in St. Louis, Missouri. Current mileage on the odometer shows 56,455 kilometers, which equals 35,090 miles. It is sold as is, where is, on a clean and clear, mileage exempt title.
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Pictures © MotoeXotica
Words © Velorex Wikipedia
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