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Classic Velocity Blog

The Rise and Fall of a Champion

Classic Velocity

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The concept was simple. A small, inexpensive form of transportation in the postwar period that would be economical, and have many benefits over a motorcycle and sidecar. This was the mission of Champion AG in the early 1950s. There was clear inspiration from the Volkswagen Beetle with a small rear-mounted single cylinder engine, and rounded shapes front, rear, and roof. 

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Hermann Holbein was a former BMW engineer who produced the first cars in 1950.  They used a 200cc two stroke engine with a supercharger, and were very basic Spartan machines. The best evidence of this was the starting handle common to machines from 30 years prior! This of course means that they were very inexpensive, and this appealed to a certain postwar customer looking to migrate to a car. Champion had a rapid succession of assemblers and owners who all saw the promise and potential, but who also could not create a viable business model. The machines grew a bit more complex and added displacement with each iteration. 250cc, 400cc, and 500cc versions were developed. A cabriolet and an estate version also followed. Prices increased, eliminating the cost advantage, and reducing sales.

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The downward business spiral continued with Danish entrepreneur Thorndahl attempting a recovery in 1952. However, this attempt also failed, and the company was placed on the selling block at bargain prices. The eventual buyer was Maico, known for its' motorcycles. The Champion name disappeared with that transition, but the concept continued.........