Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Smoke gets in your eyes

Shame about the environmental damage their smoky engines cause, but I've always had a soft spot for two-strokes. It was during my motorcycling youth, which I spent much of on Suzuki 250s and Yamaha 350s, that I fell in love with the way two-stroke engines worked and performed. I didn't care that they didn't sound great. I just loved the way a little guy like a Yamaha RD350 could blow away slow old British twins like Triumph 650s, and bigger, bad-handling Japanese fours. That RD350 was a rocketship for a 19-year-old in 1973.

Later on, as two-stroke bikes became more sophisticated, with water-cooling and even better frames, suspension and brakes, I still preferred the thrill of tackling a winding, racer's road on a Yamaha TZR 250 to scaring myself silly on the same road on an evil handling, but much more powerful, big Japanese four-cylinder four-stroke. I was a small bike fan, and still am to some degree.

And so while slowly compiling my diecast car collection, mostly in 1:43 scale, I have been determined to add a few two-stroke-engined cars to the mix.

Saab 96, model by Trofeu. Very nicely made model, and the
only one of my two-stroke cars which I have seen on the road.
Trabant 601, a legendary car for mostly the wrong reasons.
I was very happy to see this Atlas model when it arrived, as
it was much, much nicer than I expected. I kind of thought
a Trabant model would be as crappy as the famous car itself,
but not so. Well done Atlas on a nice little 1/43 guy.

As soon as I saw the colour scheme on this Wartburg 311
Coupe I just had to get one, and it's a nice bit of work from
the budget collector's friend, IXO. If you're not familiar
with Wartburg, it's another East German marque. Perhaps
because it was a pretty nice car it didn't fit into the Western
propaganda line about hopelessly inefficient communist
East Germany (a reputation for which the Trabant was
the proverbial sitting duck). Wartburgs were good enough
to be exported to the West. The company itself lasted until
German unification in the early 1990s, but it's these very
good cars from the late 50s which earned Wartburg's
relatively good name in the automotive world.
Finally, an odd little pairing (and I do mean little, these two
are 1:87 scale), of a Wartburg 311 Coupe towing a Trabant P50.
This set is made by Bubmobil, a German company, and they aren't
really meant to be perfect models, as you can see from the overly
large wheels. I see them as affectionate attempts to capture
the spirit of these cars, rather than their strict form.
I guess I should finish off this little homage to the two-strokes by adding in the 1:24 scale models of the few two-stroke bikes I could find.

It's only fitting that East Germany comes first: the MZ250ETS.
I owned the later model, the MZ250ETZ, but they were very
similar bikes. Engine and exhaust pipes the same especially,
but the ETZ had more modern styling and a disc brake.
Kawasaki Mach IV 750, the ultra-fast triple. Never owned
one, never rode one, but I had to have a model of one.
Yamaha RZ250. I owned an RZ350, as well as the earlier
air-cooled RD350. Great bikes, fantastic engines.
Phil Read's V4 250cc GP Yamaha of the late 1960s.

Christian Sarron's TZ250 Yamaha of the early 1980s.
This modern version of the Spanish Bultaco 250 Metralla was
as close as I could get to the 1960s bike which I was really after.
And while searching in vain for the 60s Bultaco Metralla, I
spotted this 1960s Spanish Montesa Impala, so I snapped it up.


  1. Muy bellos Saab y Wartburg.

  2. Love the Trabant and Wartburg. Great photography Oz.