1959 Fram King Fulda S7
The 1950’s and 1960’s were ‘great times’ for the automotive industry. In America the automobile and rock ‘n’ roll helped shape the culture of a nation. In England and Europe sports and GT cars were an intrinsic fabric of society. However, it wasn’t always about American cars with thumping V8’s or sleek European GT cars. There was a great variety of cars available and another niche market evolved – micro cars.
In the late 1940’s Norbert Stevenson was working for the “Rhein-Zeitung”, a newspaper in Germany. He had a passion for automotive design, and whilst he had little in a way of formal qualifications, which was not uncommon in those days, he came up with a design for a simple three-wheel car with room for two people inside. The initial work was funded by Peter Stein the publisher of the newspaper Stevenson was working for. However, the economic circumstances weren’t right and by the summer of 1949 the project was abandoned.
Stevenson didn’t give up on his idea to produce a three-wheeler car and he went searching for a new partner to make his concept reality. After having approached several companies he got in touch with Karl Schmitt, a wealthy engineering graduate and a Bosch wholesaler in the town of Fulda. Schmitt also ran another small company, the Elektromaschinenbau Fulda GmbH, a company which had proven to be very successful in providing maintenance and repair services for emergency power generators which were used a lot in Germany after the Second World War.
In October 1949 work had started on a new chassis. The front axle incorporated one very notable design feature. It incorporated what is known as negative scrub radius. This feature provides a stabilizing effect on slippery roads and also helps keeping the car stable if the brakes are applied unevenly to the wheels on either side of the car. The Fuldamobil is credited with the first car in the world to feature this innovation.
The first prototype had a steel tube frame chassis, a swing axle at the front and a swing arm for the rear wheel. The body work was constructed by the Leibold company in Fulda. The first prototype made its debut at the, of all places, Rosenmontag carnival procession in Fulda in March 1950. Unfortunately, the slow pace of the procession caused the engine to overheat. More testing was done after its public debut, but unfortunately the first prototype was scrapped after it had done some 3000 km. A second prototype was built around December 1950, this time with a roadster body and it was sold almost immediately.
Production finally started in February 1951. During the first period of production no two cars produced were alike. Different materials were used for the external paneling. On most of them it was a combination of plywood sheets covered with a synthetic leather fabric. During the first period of production the cars didn’t have a model designation. In the brochures they were simply referred to as Fulda-mobil of Fuldamobil.
In October 1953 a new model was introduced at the International Bicycle and Motorcycle Exhibition (IFMA) in Frankfurt. The new Type S was powered by a 360cc Sachs engine and had a body made up out of heat formed aluminium sheets which were welded together.
Whilst the introduction of the Type S was positive for the company it also caused problems. Stevenson wanted to design and produce more models. However, Schmitt felt his company couldn’t afford to have several models. A deal was struck with the Nordwestdeutscher Fahrzeugbau Company, NWF, to build the majority of the new model, but that didn’t save the partnership. In the spring of 1954 Stevenson and Schmitt decided to each go their own way.
NWF made some changes to the Type S design. One of the most significant one was related to the engine. NWF decided to replace the 360cc engine with a 200cc Ilo engine.
Going forward NWF would supply the home market with the car, now known as the Fuldamobil NWF 200, and the factory in Fulda would continue building the 360cc models, now known as the Fuldamobil S 360.
By the end of 1954 673 Fuldamobil NWF 200’s and 327 Fuldamobil S 360’s had been registered. Whilst this might sound impressive, Messerschmitt sold over 3,700 cars in that same period. The Fuldamobil started falling behind in comparison to its main competitors, the Messerschmitt and the recently introduced BMW Isetta. They were both faster, cheaper and more powerful. NWF was in trouble and production of the Fuldamobil NWF 200 stopped in September 1955. Cashflow quickly became an issue and NWF was forced into bankruptcy.
The factory in Fulda however continued in much the same way as it did before and kept producing the 360cc model.
In 1957 a new and lighter fiberglass body was developed. This version of the Fuldamobil became known as the S7 which made its first public debut at the Swedish Motorcycle Show in 1957. The new model was significantly lighter than its predecessors and the Fichtel & Sachs 191cc engine (and later Heinkel 198cc engine) were now ‘adequate’. In total, approximately 700 Fuldamobil S7’s were built.
Throughout its lifespan Karl Schmitt made many attempts to sell licensed production of the Fuldamobil to agents around the world. This resulted in the Fuldamobil being sold under a variety of names in some countries. There was the Nobel in the UK, Turkey and Chile, the Bambi in Argentina, the Bambino in the Netherlands, the Attica and Alta A200 in Greece, the Hans Vahaar in India and the Fram King Fulda (FKF and later shortened to King) in Sweden.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to confirm the sale of 1959 Fram King Fulda S7.
This car was sold new in Sweden and imported into North America in 2011 where it was subsequently refreshed. It was acquired by its current Brisbane based owner in California in June 2017 and imported into Australia where it joined an eclectic microcar collection. There is an import approval on file dated 26th July 2017.
We love our Messerschmitts and BMW Isettas, however, if you took one to a classic car show you the chances are that could be parked next to another one. It would be unlikely this would be the case with a Fuldamobil!
- Fram King Fulda S7
- 32606 km