Out & About
Here, there & everywhere
From ARIE VAN BOCKEL, via email: “I came across an article on the Swiss Army Condor A350, Ducati engine, only 3000 made. I imported 13 examples of the same, and I thought it might make a interesting story of the history of the condor factory going back to the beginning of the 1900th century and its success in the International 6 day Trails and World records in the 1920s and 1930s. There is a very good Dutch web site on the Condors by Ben van Helden of the Dutch Condor club.” From information supplied by Arie: The Condor story began in 1893 when Frenchman Edouard Scheffer established a factory in Courvaire on the River Some in north east Switzerland. Initially the firm made bicycles but by the early 1900s a small motorcycle with a 1.5hp engine was being made, followed soon by a 3hp and a 5hp v-twin. These were single-speed, clutchless devices in basically bicycle frames. During WW1, Condor made bicycles for the Swiss Army, a tie-up that continued for nearly a century. In the 1920s, Condor’s biggest seller was the Motochassis 250, with a 250cc MAG engine and 3-speed gearbox, 3,000 of which were built in this decade. By 1925 Condor had eleven models in the range, using engines from various suppliers including Motosacoche MAG, Zedel and Villiers. Post WW2, Condor built their own BMW style flat twin engine to power a military model, the A580 and the later A750 (A standing for Army). These military machines were developed into civilian models in the ‘fifties, along with smaller models using Puch and Maserati engines. Again in response to army requests, a new 250cc model was introduced in the early 1960s, initially using a Maserati engine and soon with their own, BMW R26-style 250 single motor. Around 10 years later another new army model appeared, this time with a rubber-mounted 350cc Ducati engine – the A350. Between 1973 and 1978, 3,000 A350ps were built. Most of these remained in service until 2001, when they were finally pensioned off and replaced by 650cc BMW singles. 1978 marked the end of the line for Condor motorcycle production, although bicycles continued to be made until 1995. The company is still in business, making non-motorcycle metal products.
Arie Van Bockel’s Condor collection.