- Written by webmin
If you’re familiar with the Maico, you’re probably most familiar with the Maico 500, the car that evolved out of the Champion and that looks like a microcar offspring of a 4CV and a Beetle. You’re probably not at all familiar with the Maico 500 Sport coupe prototype shown in these photos that Greg Steinmayer found; neither were we, so we turned to Charles Gould, who in turn asked “fountain of microcar knowledge” Peter Svilians for his input. Peter responded:
Your Mystery Maico was the very last gasp of the Maisch brothers’ venture into automobile manufacturing. By this time they were dodging the 238 creditors who were owed some 21 million deutschmarks. But they forged ahead with a new car.
You’re no doubt familiar with the Maico 500 Sport cabriolet, with the black/red two- tone divided in sweeping curves down the side. It was built in fiberglass by the Swiss coachbuilders Beutler. Five were made. It debuted at the Frankfurt show in 1957.
This was joined at the same time by a Maico 500 Sport prototype with an ugly body in steel by Wendler (with tailfins) which was never officially presented to the public.
Your mystery car, the Maico 500 Sport, was an elegant prototype coupé on an extended chassis incorporating 14 chassis improvements. It was built once again by Beutler in Switzerland out of fiberglass, with the idea of bringing down the weight of the standard steel 4-seater sedan which had evolved out of the old Champion. It was still on the same backbone chassis and still powered by the standard Heinkel 452 cc 2- stroke twin making 20 hp.
The desperate hope was to market it in America, and the coupé was shown at the New York Auto Show in the spring of 1958. A number of brochures in English were produced. These showed a photo of the coupé , and drawings and specs of both the coupe and standard sedan.
At the bottom is printed:
“American Importer: Whizzer International, 350 S.Sandford Street, Pontiac, Michigan”. Yes, THAT Whizzer !
Payments from the US were not forthcoming, the banks got nervous and bankruptcy proceedings were initiated. Otto Maisch went to jail for 20 months, brother Wilhelm had a serious heart attack, several company people were jailed and/or fined. The cars were done, but the motorcycle division carried on.
It’s a shame, then, that such a pretty little car would be tied in with so much misery. Then again, I’m sure if we peered into every pretty little car’s history, we’d find some sort of misery.