The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

Previous Next

Lot 566

1953 Fuldamobil N-2

  • ID No. 360392

Sold for $75,900


Restored as original with unique embossed aluminum bodywork.



SPECIFICATIONS

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

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+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

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+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

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+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

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+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

drose@rmsothebys.com

+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

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+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

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+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

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+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

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+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

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+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

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+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

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+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

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+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

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+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

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+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

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+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

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+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