The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

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Lot 566

1953 Fuldamobil N-2

  • ID No. 360392

Sold for $75,900

Restored as original with unique embossed aluminum bodywork.


Manufacturer: Elektromaschinenbau Fulda GmbH

Origin: Fulda, Germany

Production: 380

Motor: Fichtel & Sachs 1-cyl, 2-stroke

Displacement: 359 cc

Power: 9.5 hp

Length: 9 ft. 4 in.

Identification No. 360392

The amusingly rotund Fuldamobil qualifies as perhaps the longest-built microcar, being in production in various forms by various firms throughout the world for nearly 20 years. The story begins with Norbert Stevenson, a young freelance journalist spending all of his spare time in the damp basement of his house designing a small car. His “design department” consisted of piles of papers and drawings scattered over a rickety old table next to a wood and cardboard mock-up of his proposed three-wheeler. A sponsor allowed the purchasing of parts and a motor, but these had to be returned as its partner exited the scene. The design was offered to Karl Schmitt, who was a wealthy, highly qualified engineer and the head of a large Bosch distributorship and an electrical equipment business that repaired electrical generators.

Karl Schmitt had considered entering the small car business as well, and he adopted Stevenson as his official constructor. He was not convinced by the tandem layout, so he polled his employees, asking them if they would rather sit side-by-side or in tandem. They answered with “bench seat” unanimously, and Stevenson, under the watchful eye of Diplom-Ingenieur Schmitt, was pretty much given free-rein to develop his car.

Work began in October 1949, and by Christmas, a chassis was being test-driven on tractor-seats. In January, a body was constructed in steel on a wood frame along camping-trailer lines, with an angled flat front and two separate front windows. It was clear that the motor needed improvement, so Stevenson drove to Nurnberg to see Triumph’s new twin-piston single. The firm’s director, Reitz, saw the little Fulda and asked “What is that silly thing?” whereupon Stevenson turned and drove away. The drivetrain problem was solved by Baker und Pölling, who offered to bore out their chainsaw motor to 250 cubic centimeters and supply it with a sprocket to take a starter motor. Gearbox-makers Hurth offered their three-speed-plus-reverse gearbox.

More prototypes emerged, including roadsters with painted plywood bodies and a more normal, new rounded nose. The filling and painting were too labor-intensive, so it was decided to go the Lloyd route: having the body covered with leathercloth. The glider-manufacturer Schleicher agreed to supply these plywood-on-ash bodies. A pre-series of 48 cars, evenly divided between open roadsters and closed coupes, demonstrated quality control issues with the Baker and Pölling motors.

The motor, however, continued to be fitted into the series production N-1 series, which retained the attractive rounded nose shape, beginning in August 1951. A total of 320 of these were built before the B&P chainsaw motor was replaced by a 360-cubic centimeter Fichtel & Sachs stationary-type motor on the N-2 model a year later.

Shortly after the introduction of the new Sachs motor, the bodywork received a startling overhaul that would make the little Fulda’s name widely-known. The plywood skin was replaced by panels of embossed aluminum, which eliminated painting, and the deep embossing hid small surface faults and damage well. It became known as the “silver flea.” A smooth, aluminum-painted version was also available at an extra cost. The car achieved a distinctive position in the marketplace as a comfortable, well-sprung family vehicle, which, with its folding seat, could be used on camping trips.

This well-known car was obtained from a German museum that had completely rebuilt the body over hundreds of hours in 1980, using fresh ash beams and the correct pattern-embossed aluminum sheet. This vintage German aluminum pattern is no longer available, so it would be impossible to rebuild the car to original specs today, presenting an exceptional opportunity to acquire a very rare and significant microcar.

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

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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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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

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