A Wanderer returns

The quest for a Banbury project led Gordon Hallett to a rather unusual German marque. Resurrecting it was certainly no walk in the park…

Words: PHIL TURNER Photographs: GARY CHAPMAN

Wanderer is one of the most interesting German motorcycle marques you’ve probably never heard of.

Founded in 1896 as ‘Chemnitzer Velociped-Depôt Winklhofer & Jaenicke’, the firm started life as a bicycle maker and repairer in the Saxony city of Chemnitz.

Phil takes to the controls. Our writer reckoned the machine felt 20 years newer.

Initially the concern assembled, sold and serviced British bikes, but founders Johann Baptist Winklhofer and Richard Adolf Jaenicke – both keen cyclists and talented engineers – were soon building and selling their own machines under the brand name Wanderer; it’s said the name came from the translation of the British bicycle brand name Rover.

The high quality and elegant design of Winklhofer and Jaenicke’s bikes meant they were soon in high demand, and the pair moved their operation from a rented workshop in the city to a 200,000sqft plot in Schönau, on which they built their own administrative, warehouse and manufacturing facilities – they even put up a semi-detached house for themselves on-site.

Although they would remain major players in the bicycle market, as well as later building a reputation worldwide for typewriters and mechanical calculators, before long Winklhofer and Jaenicke began turning their attention to motorised transportation: their first motorcycle came in 1902, the first car – the prototype that would become the 1147cc, 12bhp, W1 5/12 PS Puppchen – three years later.

The changing nature of the firm’s direction was taken into account in 1908, when the company removed the ‘bicycle’ from its name and became Wanderer-Werke vorm.Winklhofer & Jaenicke A.-G.

Read more in the May issue of TCM – on sale now!

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