The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

Previous Next

Lot 545

1953 Champion 400H

  • ID No. 800830A01

Sold for $57,500


Manufacturer: Reinische Automobilfabrik, Hennhofer & Co.

Origin: Ludwigshafen, Germany

Production: 1,969

Motor: Heinkel 2-cyl, 2-stroke

Displacement: 396 cc

Power: 15 hp

Length: 10 ft. 5 in.

Identification No. N/A

It was time to provide the Champion CH-250 Roadster with somewhat more substantial bodywork. Hermann Holbein sent two chassis to his partners at ZF in Ludwigshafen, who built an elegant roadster-style body with deep, rounded, curving fenders and a folding windshield. The luxury Champion was an impractical proposition though, as it was too heavy and too difficult to build. Another very interesting proposal was by the soon-to-be-famous French industrial designer Louis Lepoix. Produced at his home for over two months, it was a little, streamlined coupe with smooth lines and a single headlamp, but again, it was too heavy and too expensive. Holbein himself commissioned two coupes from both the Vischer and the Fries coachbuilders in Stuttgart. Both firms’ offerings were again too heavy, and Holbein gave up on rebuilding the old 250.

Meanwhile, a third prototype body had been built by Drauz in Heilbronn, according to Holbein’s old idea that a car could be economically produced from symmetrical pressings for front and rear fenders, as well as the doors. The result was a well-proportioned, pretty little coupe that was made even better by the semicircular side windows, which rotated down into their doors. Delighted with the result, he and ex-BMW Chief Engineer Karl Schäfer designed a chassis to go with the existing Drauz body. It would include a Triumph 400 motor and an up-to-date specification, including hydraulic brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, and rubber-in-torsion suspension.

After a successful show in Berlin in May 1950, an agreement was reached for the two car types to be built by the Benteler brothers. Assembly took place in a former airport in Mönkeloh. The supply of Triumph motors ended suddenly, but a two-cylinder ILO motor became available. The Bentelers were tubing-suppliers, so Holbein altered the chassis to suit. The Champion 400 was pricey, but it offered a steel body, a roll-back roof, and disappearing windows. But each car was losing money, and production stopped after 1,904 examples were built, to be replaced by refrigerators. A frustrated Holbein finally gave up as well.

The biggest Champion dealer in Germany, Hennhöfer in Ludwigshafen, had faith in the car however, and took over production with a new company, the R.A.F. By the time production began in April 1953, ILO had stopped building their motor, but a replacement was found in Heinkel’s 400-cubic centimeter twin. Once again, nearly 2,000 examples of the “H” model were built. This bright red example was restored by the museum, and it runs and drives well.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more