The ex-Otis Chandler
c.1920 Mars 956cc Type A20 'White Mars'
Frame no. 2885
Engine no. C2214
Mars was founded by Paul Reissmann in Nuremberg, Germany in 1873 and commenced production with a range of cast-iron stoves followed by sirens, grinding machines and bicycles. Motorcycle manufacture began in 1903 using proprietary engines supplied by Zedel and Fafnir, and Mars also made cars from 1906 to 1908.
Introduced in 1920, the company's most famous model was the legendary 'White Mars', designed by engineer Claus Franzenburg, which was powered by a 956cc horizontally opposed, 'flat head', twin-cylinder engine made exclusively for Mars by Maybach. Unusually, the 'White Mars' featured a box-section frame constructed of welded and riveted steel sheet rather than the almost universal steel tubing. Early examples had a two-speed, twin-chain transmission while later on a conventional three-speed gearbox was standardized and other colors made available. Its high standard of workmanship and finish encouraged sales initially but the economic downturn of the mid-1920s saw production of the 'White Mars' cease for a few years.
Towards the decade's end, former employees Johann and Karl Müller restarted production of the Mars motorcycle - initially under the 'MA' brand name - and added new models powered by engines supplied by MAG, Sturmey-Archer, JAP and Villiers. Bicycles, mopeds and lightweight motorcycles formed the mainstay of production during the 1930s and the company continued this policy after WW2. Its most successful model of the post-war era was the Mars Stella, a low-slung lightweight powered by Sachs two-stroke engines of various capacities. After more than half a century in production, the Mars factory closed finally closed its gates in June 1958. Of all its many models, it is the 'White Mars' that is the most celebrated; there is an example in the Neue Sammlung international design museum in Munich, Germany, and in the 1980s the model even featured on a German stamp. In recent years several copies have been produced.
This genuine, original 'White Mars' came to the USA from Holland partially restored. The vendor completed the restoration in 2004 and the machine was last run in May 2012, performing strongly. This example is one of few that are complete with speedometer, spare wheel and lights.
- Please note that the title for this motorcycle is in transit