9 January 2014

1959 Weidner Condor

Sleek fibreglass sportster powered by 3-cylinder, air-cooled engine good for 126 km/h

Hans Trippel had a dream of building 20,000 Amphicars per year.

He thought that dream would come true when the Quandt family, who owned BMW at the time, invested $5 million in his vision.

Despite the clever melding of an automobile and water-borne pleasure craft, the Amphicar was a dismal failure with just 800 cars built.

One of Trippel’s greatest designs was the gull-wing door fitted to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe.
Before the Amphicar, Trippel designed the Weidner Condor, which debuted at the 1957 Geneva Auto Show.

Fritz and Reinhold Weidner were agricultural equipment manufacturers, and their attractive sports coupe had a strong resemblance to the Porsche 356A; a noticeable difference were suicide doors.

The streamlined and elegant fibreglass body integrated to a steel platform was built by the Binz factory. Power came from a 662cc, 32-horsepower, rear-mounted three-cylinder, two-stroke, water-cooled Heinkel engine coupled to a four-speed manual transmission could push the sports car to a top speed of 126 kilometres per hour (80 mph).

Unfortunately, like a lot of things in business, it was all about timing and despite the public admiration for its advanced design and technical prowess the Weidner was up against tough competition from the Karmann Ghia.

Its steep price tag of 7,000 Deutschmark ($5,224) was just too much to make it a practical competitor.

A total of 20 cars were built and the pictured example is one of only two known to still exist; the other is on display in a small museum in Bockenem, Germany.

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