Nimbus: The real numbers
Firstly, I would like to thank you for piecing together the article ‘Danish delights – the Nimbus’, in OBA 77. Unfortunately, and unknown to you, there are, for me, too many incorrect facts in some of the articles and I would like to try to get it right. Over the years, I have read many various articles in magazines and web sites about the Nimbus motorcycle and its history and for some reason almost all of them have wrong information, especially when it comes to the year that Fisker & Nielsen stopped production of the Nimbus motorcycle. Peder Andersen Fisker started his own business in Copenhagen under his own name, Fisker, manufacturing electric motors. A previous work colleague, Hans Marius Nielsen, joined Fisker shortly after and the business name changed to Fisker & Nielsen. In 1910, P. A. Fisker had developed an electric vacuum cleaner which he intended to mass produce. Nielsen did not want to do that. The result was that Fisker bought Nielsen out of the business and Fisker continued on his own. Unfortunately, that export market came to a halt with the outbreak of WWI in 1914. The business name Fisker & Nielsen remained, all the way till 1989! Fisker thought another product had to be developed and as early as 1916, started the idea of a motorcycle. Drawings of the Nimbus and patent applications are dated 1917. The first prototype was completed in 1918 and this was followed by several variants. However, it had no name before 1919, when P.A. Fisker felt provoked by a notice about a motorcycle rally in a newspaper, which read: Also see Manufacturer Fisker with his homemade 4-cylinder. This prompted Mr. Fisker to bestow the motorcycle with the name Nimbus. It could be pronounced in most languages and was well accepted in Denmark too. Nine copies were produced between 1919 and 1920, which was a very small production, probably due to economic problems. In 1920 P. A. Fisker turned the business into a Pty. Ltd. in order to get an injection of capital, as his bank did not want to help him with his motorcycle adventure. To round this up, it is clearly documented that the Nimbus ‘Stove pipe’ was manufactured from 1918 to 1928. There were only 1,252 ever made. The Nimbus from 1918 to the end of 1923 were designated Nimbus A. Machines from 1924 to the end was designated Nimbus B, which had a different front fork system. Machines from 1927 and 1928 were assembled from parts already made in earlier years. Fisker took the decision in 1924 to cease production in 1926, due to the Government introducing a tax for vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles, even if they were made locally. That broke the final straw for Mr. Fisker. The Nimbus ‘stove pipe’ had its 100th year anniversary in 2018, celebrated amongst hundreds of Nimbus enthusiasts in Denmark with a big rally ending in Copenhagen where the Nimbus factory once was. The Birth and the end of the Nimbus C P. A. Fisker’s son, Anders Fisker was a keen motorcyclist and he finished an engineering degree (Mechanical) in 1932. Straight after Anders Fisker had finished these exams, he became employed with Fisker & Nielsen Pty. Ltd. Anders Fisker had already worked on a project to re-ignite the motorcycle manufacturing. This project showed viable financial prospects, if a minimum of 1000 Nimbus could be produced per year. The project was presented to the board of Fisker & Nielsen Pty. Ltd. and accepted. There were no empty factory buildings available to start this project, so P. A. Fisker ordered a new building to be built in such a way it could have another two stories added later. The construction took place in 1932 and 1933. P. A. Fisker paid cash (One million Danish kroner, approximately A$200,000.00), meaning there was no bank loan for that building. Another two million kroner were spent on all new machinery and tooling to manufacture the new Nimbus. The Nimbus C was developed between father and son in the basement of the family home in Copenhagen in the years of 1932 and 1933 and by 1933 a prototype was running. Manufacturing started in early 1934 and the first machines were delivered in mid-1934. The engine was yet again a four-cylinder 746cc, but this time built in one cast iron block, with a bore of 60mm and stroke of 66mm. The sump was cast aluminium. The engine had an overhead camshaft in an aluminium housing, which was bolted on top of the engine block independent from the one-piece cylinder head and inlet manifold. The camshaft ran in two bronze bushes. The valves were activated by a tappet arm exposed from the camshaft housing which pivoted on a hardened pin. Unfortunately, the valves had no lubrication. The complete motorcycle weighed 185 kg. The Nimbus C had various changes from 1934 to 1959, notably different front forks. The Nimbus C was in fact the first motorcycle to have a telescopic front fork, although it was not oil dampened until 1939. From 1934 to 1938, it was sliding tubes and internal springs lubricated with grease. The Nimbus C was never exported, as the home market demanded more than could be manufactured. However, one attempt was made in 1939 where a deal was done for exporting 100 machines to the Yugoslavian Air Force. The machines were made, paid for and ready to be shipped but they were never shipped due to the outbreak of WWII in September 1939. Fisker & Nielsen dismantled the machines in the way of taking the engine out of the frame and the lot was stored away in separate buildings in Copenhagen, well away from the Nimbus factory. The German Forces later found the sales contract between F & N and the Yugoslavian Air Force in the Government building in Belgrade. The German Forces in Denmark fronted up at F & N and demanded the Nimbus motorcycles to be handed over. The 100 Nimbus, many with sidecars, ended up in German-occupied Norway. The first and only announcement that the production of Nimbus and sidecars had ceased came via a letter, dated the 6th of May 1959, sent to all the Nimbus dealers, countrywide. The original letter was sent around internally to all departments within the Nimbus factory to be signed by all heads of departments. No Nimbus were ever made from leftover parts. F & N supplied spare parts for another 15 years especially for the Defence Force, which had a large number of Nimbus and sidecars. The Danish Post and Police also used Nimbus. The total number of Nimbus C made is 12,715, starting with number 1301 and finished with number 14015. Lars Glerup Queensland
The official letter from Fisker & Nielsen informing dealers of the halt to production of Nimbus in 1957.