Bore x stroke:
Heinkel Tourist 1960 - Series 103 A2
Having parents that grew up in the Second World War, when the Heinkel 103 came across the Shepster Towers desk, this writer was a bit excited. Whilst the British Hawker (Hurricane) diversified little, building business jets post-war, the infamous Supermarine (Spitfire) at least gave film and hovercraft a shot. Alas, if only they had made a Spitfire motorcycle!
So why did Heinkel tread the boards of new industry? They had little choice. Due to the outcome of the war, they were prohibited from manufacturing any aircraft. They quickly set about building bicycles, scooters and even a tremendous bubble car. The Heinkel Kabine competed with the cute BMWs Isetta and Messerschmitt KR200 (another aircraft manufacturer), and was later purchased by an Irish company that rode that puppy into the ground. Such a shame, the Isetta and Kabine are handsome little things!
The prototype for the Heinkel two-wheelers started in 1949, with the first of the scooters, the 101 A0, going into production in 1953 with a small 149cc engine and eight-inch wheels. Three other versions were made (102 A1, 103 A0 and the 103 A1) with increasing production numbers until Ze German marketers had too much Schnapps and went ballistic with naming the new model. They needed a moniker that oozed exciting refinement for the modern gentleman, that screamed zest, sex-appeal and chutzpah! Ok, maybe not chutzpah. Finally in August 1960 those zany Deutschlanders had their name: the 103 A2. Good grief!
In addition to the mesmeric named variations, there was clear technological improvements over the years too. Out went the eight-inch wheels and in came the ten-inch, a four-speed gearbox replaced the old three-speed, and the two-stroke was set-aside for the four-stroke engines, the A2 receiving a 174cc. An electric kick-start was introduced, and the battery upgraded from 6V to 12V. The chain drive had its own sealed oil bath and was enclosed within the swingarm to the rear wheel, improving longevity and ensuring that no oil would encroach onto the ankles of the rider. Oddly, despite clocking over 70 mph, there was no windscreen. Perhaps it would have tainted its aerodynamic roots, as one of the things we at Shepsters love about the Tourist is the apron-fairing over the front wheel. A tiny touch of elegance.
Being heavier, thirstier and yet far more comfortable than its Italian rivals, the Vespa and Lambretta, in Britain it was advertised as the ‘Rolls Royce of Scooters’ and imported by German-staffed Hans Motors of London. The Tourist had a tubular steel frame with pressed steel body panels and additional refinements such as steering lock, speedometer, a clock (a clock!), a spare wheel and a luggage carrier. It also weighed four hundred tonnes. No wonder why it didn’t take off. Production of a very handsome scooter sadly ended in 1965.