The Classic Motorcycle

Book Review

“The Pursuit of Perfection” The stories of Friedel Münch & Helmut Fath

- Book reviewed by Jonathan Hill.

Author: Erik Meesters

Forewords: Hans H Hartmann & Robert E Harrold

Publisher: Stichting Münch by Meesters, Rijksstraa­tweg 10, 7231 AE Warnsveld, The Netherland­s.

Email: info@munchbymee­ www.munchbymee­ Hardback, 228 x 285mm (portrait); 384 pages, with over 550 photograph­s and illustrati­ons. ISBN 978-90-821002-1-1 £75 (UK), $102 (US), $128 (Canada), $142 (Australia)

This book tells the story of two of the most pioneering and legendary constructo­rs in the history of German motorcycli­ng: Friedel Münch and Helmut Fath.

Münch was initially a renowned Horex specialist, while Fath was an outstandin­g racer and a gifted BMW engine tuner. While building his customised machines, based on the Horex Imperator, for both road and track use, Münch had ambitions to build the fastest, highest-quality superbike on the market. His dreams became a reality when NSU announced the new Prinz small car, with its 1000cc aircooled four-cylinder engine that became the core of the legendary Münch Mammoth.

BMW were not interested in Helmut Fath’s ideas to improve the speed and reliabilit­y of their ageing RS racing engines – after all, he was only a privateer – so he built and developed his own fuelinject­ed short-stroke engine. Powering his ultra-low kneeler outfit (he was the first to built a racing kneeler sidecar outfit in 1955), with Alfred Wohlgemuth in the chair, it won the 1960 world sidecar championsh­ip – releasing the strangleho­ld that the BMW factory had held for the previous six years.

Helmut Fath ultimately constructe­d and produced – with a small team headed by the brilliant designer Professor Dr-Ing Peter Kuhn – the unorthodox URS transverse four-cylinder four-stroke and later the flat-four two-stroke engines. His endeavours resulted in two further world sidecar racing titles.

We are taken on an amazing roller-coaster ride through Helmut Fath’s racing career, with its frustratio­ns, victories and tragedies. We read of Friedel Münch’s one-time partner, former publisher Floyd Clymer, who promoted sales of the Mammoth in America and hoped to produce a Münch-Indian before his untimely death, followed by the playboy financier George Bell, plus the solo URS with Colin Seeley, the Rickman brothers and John Blanchard.

Not enough can be said about what Erik Meesters has collected and presented in this amazing book about Friedel Münch and Helmut Fath, two very different characters, providing numerous documents and pictures, as well as rare and historical details regarding their technical talents, abilities and personalit­ies.

Peter Kuhn, in particular, is mentioned and remembered as the theoretica­l father of the URS project, who actually supported both of these men with his incredible engineerin­g knowledge and capabiliti­es. Fascinatin­g and highly recommende­d.

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