Monday, December 30, 2013

My first car - Framo Piccolo on a wild ride

I have paraphrased this from a German article in by author, Arne Niehörster, about people's first car stories. This story comes from East Germany in the 1950s, when cars were expensive and hard to come by. Young Joachim Stückrad of Husen, near Dresden was lucky to get his hands on an old Framo Piccolo, which he and his friends enjoyed (and ultimately trashed!) during the late 50s.

Heavenly journey! Joachim and his friends on the way to the Ore Mountains. The fifth in the group rode his bike and made it there first.

"We have never really had such luck," Joachim Stückrad said to his loved ones after the first test drive of his Framo Piccolo (built in 1938) in Dresden in 1955. But he hoped that this would change with the purchase of this car.

And indeed, for the graduate engineer from Husen the dream came true for 2000 Ostmark. Stückrad remembers rapturously: “The car was most beautiful in appearance, with its edged hood, which did not even open. Inside there was also nothing except the steering column. Looking towards the back were air vents over the engine cover. Under the engine cover you could see straight through to the road”
"The engine was sitting under a small hump in the rear seat" reveals Stückrad. A 300 cubic centremetre DKW two-stroke engine delivered a neat seven horsepower. The best part was the starter - because it did not exist - at least not when Stückrad owned it. "The previous owner has lost the starter. However there was a kickstarter externally mounted beside the driver's door." If the car stalled at an intersection when driving solo there was nothing for it but work up a bit of sweat. But when driving with his girlfriend at the time - “No problem, my sweetheart hopped out, took a couple of kicks on the kickstarter" and off we went on our wild ride.

The Framo’s light weight presented unusual problems. ”We drove the Framo was to a student party and it was carried up the stairs to the cafeteria," said Stückrad recalls. Plop plop-plop - he drove it down the stairs again.

Vacation trips, however, were mostly one way journeys. "We often had to resort to other means of transport to get home." About the trip to the Saale dam - with a tent and folding boat – on a slope of almost five degrees the Framo slowed to walking pace. The girlfriend had to get off. Then the speed picked up. Then Stückrad too had to hit the asphalt, with his car chugged alongside at full throttle, controlled through the open window. "Half pushed by me, he managed to reach the mountain," says Stückrad, which was then made steeper still - the steep, hard slopes of the Wilsdruffer mountain. This was also the last trip for Stückrads Framo. Diagnosis: piston seizure.;art2576,320803

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