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MARXZELL - an interesting find

by Derek Rayner

It is not often that, quite unexpectedly and through a series of coincidences, one comes across a large collection of cyclemotors and other items of associated interest, about the existence of which one was totally unaware.  We had stopped off in Karlsruhe, in West Germany, en route to somewhere else: specifically to have a ride on the tramway system or, more correctly, the Albtarbahn, a light rail system extending northwards from the town and also to the south into the Black Forest.  Our choice of destination on emerging from the Hauptbahnhof was Ittersbach, for no other reason really than it was there.  However, on looking at the timetable and the cost of tickets, we saw that a tram to Bad Herrenalls was due 20 minutes before the other and, although it was slightly further, it was the same zonal price.  So, we opted for a 5DM ticket to what turned out to be a spa town.  A stop at Marxell station, close to the end of the line, revealed nothing out of the ordinary but, on pulling away, just a little further along the line could be seen a collection of trams, steam locos and other industrial archeological miscellanea.  A sign on an old barn-like structure indicated that it was a museum.  We unhesitatingly got off there on the way back, to explore further.

Only once inside did one appreciate the enormity of the collection: on balconies in the barn, in the cellar and on the main floor was apparently a lifetime's collection of everything - ranging from vehicles and children's prams to musical instruments and stoves - plus, since he was born not far away, a huge commemorative tribute to Carl Benz and family.  We nearly gave the interior of the museum a miss since we had connections to make later in the day but we were glad we didn't for, inside on the balcony, cycles both pedal and motor were crammed in so tight that it was difficult to discern the individual makes.  They were also hanging from the ceiling and walls, and engines were also on display on shelves on the wall.  One fascinating motor cycle was a Megola, powered by a 5-cylinder radial engine mounted INSIDE the front wheel.  The number of motor cycle engines alone (off bikes) was around a staggering 50 and, whilst it was not possible to count the complete machines, the thing that particularly interested us was the large collection of cyclemotors - both on bikes and 'loose' - notwithstanding the many autocycle/moped machines, some of the makes of which we had never heard of before.  Of the cyclemotors we counted there were duplicates of the Rabeneik Cyclemaster (the German-built version), JLO, Rex, Lohmann, Victoria and Flink - invariably with one on a cycle and the other on display on the wall.  In addition, there were representatives from Berini, Mosquito, ABG, and Saxonette - amounting to 15 in all plus undoubtedly others which we may have missed.

There were cycles going back to 1850 (the non-pedal variety), penny-farthings (1880) and one interesting feature on a pedal cycle of 1900 - an oval chain wheel (is nothing new in cycling?).  There were bubble cars, fire engines, stuffed animals, gramophones, a big collection of vehicle number plates, sewing machines and cameras amongst the other items on display.  All in all, a fascinating collection, the admission fee for which (less than £2) also included a demonstration of a collection of mechanical musical instruments and a film show on the early days of motor cars, their construction and trials.

The Fahrzeug Museum is open daily from 14:00 to 17:00 and enquiries can be made of the proprietor: Bernard Reichert, 7501 Marxzell, Albtal, West Germany; tel (internal) 07248-6262.


First published - August 1990


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