In the 1920s, the Czech motorcycle industry pushed the technological forefront of engine and chassis design, producing the first series built double-overhead camshaft design (the Praga), as well as the longest production motorcycle in history, the Böhmerland. The brainchild of Czech engineer Albin Leibisch, the Böhmerland was built between 1925 and 1939 in Schönlinde, Sudetenland, and was almost entirely the result of Leibisch's design and manufacture. That remarkable chassis of welded tubing, the unusual leading-link front forks, the engine, and the cast wheels (a pioneering use for motorcycles, not generally taken up until the 1970s!) were all made in-house, with only the gearbox and various ancillary parts bought-in (magnetos, carburetors, controls, etc). The small factory at one point employed 20 assembly workers, with parts supplied by local subcontractors; production eventually totaled around 3000 units.
The most visually distinctive feature of the Böhmerland was its great length, although several models were produced, from the shortest-wheelbase racing model with a claimed 96mph (160km/h) top speed, to a single-seater 'Sport' version, a 3-seater 'Touring' model (the most popular, and as seen here; seating designation includes the pillion at rear), the extravagant 4-seater 'Langtouren' (Long Touring), and even an experimental military model with 4 seats and two gearboxes (the rear 'box operated by a passenger), giving 9 possible ratios! With a sidecar attached (as with this example), a Touring Böhmerland could safely carry 4 or 5 passengers, with more elegance and speed than nearly any contemporary automobile of the 1920s. Early models used twin petrol tanks, which kept the cylinder head visible and accessible to the rider/mechanic; later models used a more conventional 'saddle' tank (as seen here) which covered the top frame rails. Some later models also used cast steel wheels, as aluminum casting technology lagged behind the far-sighted ideas of Albin Leibisch!
Specifications of the 'Touring' Model seen here are a total length of 124" (317cm), with a wheelbase of 88" (223cm). The Leibisch engine is a sturdy overhead valve, dry-sump unit of 600cc (80x120mm bore/stroke), producing 24hp @5000rpm, with a top speed of 65mph (110kmh), giving a frugal 70mpg in normal use.
Distinctive, idiosyncratic, and the work of a genius, Böhmerlands are today rightly coveted as collector's items. Especially notable is the profoundly original condition of this machine, which still bears its factory paint job. Motorcycle collectors are well in advance of their automobile aficionado brethren in recognizing 'unmolested originality' as the pinnacle of rarity and collectability. This unrestored 1930 Böhmerland is nearly unique in this regard, and a delightful example of the marque.
- The title for this lot is in transit.