Collector Classics: German three-wheeler had a dramatic life

The photographed 1958 Burgflake FB 250 began life as the Brutsch Spatz.

Egon Brutsch built a three-wheeled version, but it proved unsuccessful because while the two front wheels had some suspension, the rear wheel was attached directly to the fibreglass bodywork. Not surprisingly, it suffered badly from the vibration, which caused the exterior body panels to crack.

In July of 1956, managing partner Harald Friedrich of the Alzmetell Meier and Friedrich Company acquired a licence from Brutsch to continue building the Spatz (German for Sparrow).

In order to do this, he partnered with the Victoria company, which was well-known for building motorcycles, scooters and mopeds. That market was declining, so Victoria jumped at the idea of entering into the automobile market.

The three-wheel Spatz was redesigned and fitted with a larger body, which was mounted on a steel chassis and given a fourth wheel. It was at this time that Friedrich decided he should no longer be paying royalties, which led to a court battle.

The judge ruled in his favour, agreeing that the three-wheeled Spatz was a different vehicle to the newly designed four-wheel model that has a sturdy steel frame and functioned well.

Some 1,588 examples were manufactured between 1956 and 1958.

A year after Victoria ceased producing the Spatz, Martin Jochamin Dahmen, managing director of Burgflake Flugzeugbau, a Bavarian-based company that built sail planes and gliders, had a yearning to enter the automobile business, so he purchased all of the machinery from Victoria and set up his new operation in an old glass factory.

The newly named Burgflake FB 250 was supposed to be built with doors and bumpers so it could be sold in the United States but that never transpired.

About 60 Burgflakes FB 250s were built out of the existing stock left over from the Victoria production; then things came to a halt as quickly as they began. The photographed car was displayed at the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance earlier this month and it’s one of only two examples that made their way to the United States.

An interesting feature of the 14-hp, 248-cc single-cylinder, two-stroke powered micro car was its five-speed transmission and its electric pre-selector changing mechanism, operated from the three buttons and small lever in the centre of the dash panel.

This is another of the cars sold in the Bruce Weiner Collection Auction earlier this year, and sold for $20,000.

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