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- Fulda Reifen: dedicated to high-performance
Long years of tradition in special
vehicle construction First high-speed tests with the streamlined
Maybach in 1939
Stuttgart, May 18, 2005 In the
1920s, the sales managers at Fulda Reifen, known at that time as
Gummiwerke Fulda, were quite sure that the brands image
should not be communicated in isolation from the end-product that
stands on four tires. Consequently, they bought a bus, had it
converted into a luxury coach and as of 1925, presented Fuldas
new patented Parabel tire all over Germany and the neighboring
countries. The first of a long series of special models was born.
Whether advertising vehicles
equipped with record players and loudspeakers, the tail section
shaped like huge tires, standing in front of the Reichstag in
Berlin (1931), whether as a tire test streamlined bus with
special license for speeds over 140 km/h (1961), or as a show
truck series (from 1985) to demonstrate the respective latest
high-tech truck tire generation in all chapters of the
Fulda company history there have been Fulda special vehicles.
The most challenging technical
commission to produce a special model in the first half of the
companys history with the simultaneous mysterious
conclusion was awarded by Fulda in 1938. The starting point was
the rapid development in automotive design in the 1930s which,
due to the increasingly refined aerodynamic automobiles,
permitted higher and higher speeds. In addition, the construction
of the Autobahn provided motorists with the
opportunity to travel further at higher speeds. That was a
challenge to the tire industry. Bernd J. Hoffmann, Managing
Director of Fulda Reifen comments: My pragmatic
predecessors did not hesitate long: At Dörr & Schreck, a
renowned vehicle-maker in Frankfurt, they commissioned the
construction of a vehicle for tire tests. Precondition for this
order was the assurance of the manufacturer that the vehicle
could regularly make high-speed tests at more than 200 km/h."
Dörr & Schreck accepted the order and looked for the
absolute leading cooperation partner in automobile manufacturing
at that time: Maybach Motorenbau. Together and with the help of
the well-known aerodynamic specialist, Freiherr Reinhard Koenig
Fachsenfeld, they designed a three-seater streamlined car on the
basis of a Maybach SW 38 chassis. The Fulda coupé with its two-color
paint job and pontoon form had a long extended tail section
sloping to the rear. From a birds eye-view the overall line
looked like a rectangle with rounded edges. The rear wheel arches
were completely panelled, as was the underbody, even the door
handles were partly recessed.
To reach the speed of over 200 km/h
demanded by Fulda, the technicians installed a 6-cylinder engine
with 140 hp. The exceptionally low air resistance coefficient of
0.25 (a figure of 0.6 was usual at that time for series-produced
vehicles), also helped guarantee this speed. The precondition
was, however, that the chassis did not exceed a weight of 1,600
On 27 July 1939, Dörr &
Schreck finally announced the completion of the SW 38: The
car is extremely interesting and beautiful. It lies well on the
road and the streamlined shape already makes itself felt at 60 km/h.
Soon afterwards the car was delivered, but as a result of the
outbreak of war its use was soon to be very limited. During the
chaos of war the test vehicle disappeared and was never found
again its whereabouts remain a mystery to this day.
Looking back, it seems that the
Fulda managers at that time could not foresee two future
- the imminent outbreak of war,
which practically prevented the use of the coupé and
- the emotional avalanche that
the streamlined car triggered off several management
generations later at Fulda Reifen.
An idea wins space.