1955 NSU Sportmax x2
If there is a shopping mall for Vintage and Classic Motorcycle it would be an auction set up by one of the large Auction houses. Bonhams is one of those houses that puts on events in both the US and Europe. If you are in the market for a motorcycle, whether its in boxes, original paint, or full restoration, you can find it for sale. Two Motorcycle that caught my eye offered at the October 16th Stafford show in England are both racing NSU motorcycles from the 1950’s.
NSU was never a force in motorcycle sales in the US, but in both the 1930’s and again in 1955 they were the larges manufactures of motorcycles in the world. With the volume of motorcycles sold, they also played a large part in International Motorcycle racing. These two 1955 race bikes are examples of what was offered by NSU the year the beat out MV Agusta and Moto Guzzi to win the World Championship in the 250cc class. Never big on displacement, they were still big
This “Dolphin” fairing NSU offered
The original Sportmax offered here was purchased in Paraguay in 2004 by the current vendor and imported into Spain that same year (the customs documents on file). Its history has been established by Mr Hartmut Schubert, an NSU specialist and historian in Germany (register entry on file). This Sportmax is probably the one raced by Rupert Hollaus in Germany (a conclusion supported by the unique construction of its fairing, which is of the type used by the factory racers) before it was sent to NSU’s subsidiary in Argentina. There it was raced by Fefro Meo, Miguel Angel Galuzzi and Jorge Cupeiro in local races to promote the NSU brand. A poster advertising one of these events in Buenos Aires and depicting an NSU is included in the sale. The Sportmax was also used by a Hungarian expatriate, Anton von Dary, to establish a number of speed records on the Buenos Aires to Ezeiza highway in December 1955
NSU was not only competing on the race tracks. In the late 1950’s NSU loaded up 6 different motorcycles ranging from 50cc to 500cc and headed to Bonneville. In the following weeks they were able to collected records for all six displacements. The took records with and without blowers. They took records with and without fairings and streamliner bodies. They took records measured in both miles and kilometers per hour. They dominated the salt and six of their records stand to this day. Having been to Bonneville I have respect for anyone, or any motorcycle that can go really fast on the salt.
The naked Sportmax
The original Sportmax offered here was raced by Raphaël Orinel from Thimister, Belgium in national events and selected rounds of the FIM World Championship, commencing in 1960 at Chimay, Belgium where he finished out of the points in a race won by Carlo Ubbiali (MV Agusta). The season culminated with 3rd place overall in that year’s Belgian 250cc championship. The following year saw Orinel finish in 11th and 9th places at the French and Belgian Grands Prix respectively, after which it seems the Sportmax was confined to national events until 1962. In that year its solitary outing on the international stage was at the French Grand Prix where Jim Redman headed a Honda clean sweep of the podium places in the 250 race. By now the Sportmax was hopelessly outclassed at international level and Orinel switched to a Honda four. It appears that Raphaël Orinel decided to retire from top-flight racing at the season’s end, as his name does not appear in the GP records after 1962
Lots of Classic Sports Bike enthusiast have blinders on for any motorcycle that is less then 500cc. So many manufactures focused their production on inexpensive, small displacement transportation, and because of this, there have always been small displacement races. Winning on Sunday will always sell on Monday. NSU proved this, and because they made lots of motorcycles, they had lots of money to spend on racing and these two motorcycles are an example of what their money was able to do.