1958 Zundapp Janus

1958 Zundapp Janus 1958 Zundapp Janus 1958 Zundapp Janus Sedan
Built in Germany and named after the Greek God JANUS, who looked both forward and back, this car has 2 doors: One in the front and one in the rear. The seat can be re-configured to lay flat to make a bed so that you could camp in the car. 20 were originally imported to the USA for sale, but only 10 were 'officially' sold. The whereabouts of the other 10 are unknown.

Many people think this car is a BMW Isetta (which has a single door that opens in the front). It is not. It was, however, offered for sale at about the same time.

This is the only car that Zundapp made and it bankrupted them. They needed to sell 15,000 to break even, they only sold 6,900. Previously they made motorcycles and scooters.

1958 Zundapp Janus Sedan
Chassis #: W3222
Sold for $22,000 at 2011 Gooding and Company - Pebble Beach Auctions.
Mobilizing the masses following World War II also meant venturing into the microbar business. Many were based on motorcycles and therefore could be licensed as such, giving their owners significant road-tax savings. One of those companies in the microcar business was Zundapp of Germany. They had been in the motorcycle business since 1921 and, while they had experimented with a vehicle in the late 1930s, it was not until the post-war period that they took the leap into car manufacturing. Their design featured identical doors front and rear opening onto bench seats facing forward and aft. Thus, the name 'Janus' was appropriately applied, as it was named after the two-faced Roman god who had the ability to look into the past as well as the future.

When production ended, fewer than 7,000 examples had been built. One Zundapp was given a starring role in the latest installment of the Pixar animated film Cars 2, in which a prominent villain, Professor Z, is portrayed as one of these cars.

This example was purchased by the owner from the Imperial Palace Collection in Los Angeles. In 2011, the car was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction where it was estimated to sell for $25,000-$35,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $22,000 inclusive of buyer's premium.


By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2011
Like many other producers of Microcars, the German manufacturer Zundapp got its start in motorcycle production. It was founded in Nuremberg in 1917 to produce munitions and as the First World War came to a close, switched to motorcycles. The first product was introduced in 1921 and sold at a very reasonable and low price.

Their first attempt in the automotive industry came during the 1930s when motorcycle sales began to taper off. Their first creation was designed by the legendary Dr. Ferdinand Porsche who was currently working on 'the people's car' at the time. Only three prototypes were ever created. All were powered by a five-cylinder radial engine.

Motorcycle sales began to pick up so the company abandoned its automotive endeavors. They would dabble in the production of aircraft engines and light machinery for a while, before returning to automobile production.

This new attempt at entering the automobile industry came over two decades from their last attempt. It was now the mid-1950s when Zundapp introduced their 'Janus 250' model. It was a small, four-passenger vehicle which contained seats that faced away from each other. The name 'Janus' was very appropriate, as it was named after the Roman god who faced in two directions. There were entry doors at the front and rear which allowed ample room for entry and exit. The style was similar to the Isetta versions.

Another feature of the seats was that they could be folded down to create sleeping space for two. The Janus was powered by a 245-cc single-cylinder, two-stroke engine that produced 14 horsepower. The engine was courtesy of the company's experience in motorcycle production. The 15 cubic-inch unit was placed between the two bench-type seats.

Top speed was around 50 mph and around 60 mpg was feasible. Hydraulic drum brakes could be found in the front and rear, and a four-speed manual gearbox (plus reverse) was standard. Other standard equipment included mirrors, front and rear vents, optical gear indicators, and an ivory-colored steering wheel.

Production lasted from 1956 through 1958 with an approximate total of 6,900 units produced. A mere 1,731 were produced during the first six months, falling far short of the expected totals. They had hoped to produce 15,000 cars per year.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2008
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