We all think of Ferrari and Colin Chapman as people who were extremely passionate about racing and competition, and produced road cars mainly as a means to fund that passion. This is the story of another such individual. His name was Heinz Melkus, and he was born in Dresden Germany in 1928. By 1950, Melkus was already racing using a Veritas powered Volkswagen. In 1955 he started a driving school. He became German Formula 3 champion in 1958, and went on to become East German Formula Junior champion in 1960.
While continuing to race, he founded Melkus in 1959 to build race cars and custom sports cars for other customers based on the design that won on the track. The first road car was the RS 1000 which was powered by a Wartburg 3 cylinder two-stroke engine which actually measured 992cc. It was a mid-engined car with a 5 speed gearbox, and handled well to make up for limited power. The fibreglass body had a sleek design with gullwing doors.
Meanwhile on the track, Heinz was East German Formula 3 champion again in 1967, 1968, and 1972.
Although 1300 and 1600cc versions were produced, the RS 1000 was the best seller at just 101 units. Production of cars ended in 1986, but his sons and grandsons resumed in 2006 with the RS 2000 only to end again in 2012 with bankruptcy. Although not as well known as other competition-centric names, the Melkus family continues to race today in its' third generation despite the production cars being gone. Racing is truly in the blood...