from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tornax vehicle and apparatus construction

legal form Company with limited liability
founding 1925
Seat Wuppertal , Germany
management Ernst Wewer
Branch Motor vehicle manufacturer

Tornax ( Tornax Fahrzeug- und Apparatebau ) was a German motorcycle and automobile manufacturer based in Wuppertal , Schwelmer Strasse 100-108.

Company history

The company was founded at Christmas 1925 by Ernst Wewer and Mr. Schmidtmann in Barmen-Langerfeld, and business operations began on January 2, 1926. In 1955, production was discontinued, but without going bankrupt like many of the competitors . At this time of the economic miracle , many buyers switched from motorcycles to VW Beetles and other automobiles , and the motorcycle market collapsed.

Otto Karpe was the designer from the start . Factory drivers included Heinz Kürten , Anton Gosse and Karl Hobelmann .

According to information, the brand name Tornax is "an idiosyncratic, but not badly chosen modification of Tornado, the dreaded storm and whirlwind".

In the 1980s (from around 1982) light motorcycles and mopeds were offered under the name Tornax (e.g. the Tornax TS 80 and RX 80 light motorcycles), but apart from the brand name and logo they had taken over, they had nothing in common with the original brand . The models were imported from Italy by a company based in Frankfurt, where they were manufactured by the actual manufacturer Moto BM . Purchased remnants or vehicles assembled from individual parts are still offered under the brand name Kosmos . The appended model designation 125 suggests an engine with 125 cc; in fact, however, the vehicles only have an 80 cm³ engine.



The first, completed in April 1926 Model I / 26 had a 600-cm³- JAP - SV engine with 15  hp .

1927 followed the models I / 27 with 14-HP-550-cm³-JAP-SV-Roadster engine, as well as II / 27 with 15-HP-600-cm³-JAP-SV-engine (actually the unchanged I / 26) . Both were also produced in 1928 under the designations I / 28 and II / 28, with the II / 28 last developing 18 hp. Then there was the model III / 28 with a 22 hp 500 cm³ JAP OHV engine.

Races have already been contested with the first Tornax and sporting successes were not lacking as early as 1926. “The victory in the tough three-day reliability drive around Rhineland and Westphalia proved the quality and reliability of the Tornax bikes. It was the first three bikes that ever left the jacks in the factory. ”The team was led by Ernst Wewer, who also received first prize in the class up to 750 cm³ and the best rating of all vehicles. Many victories in races and reliability drives followed.

In 1926 the Tornax bikes were presented to the general public for the first time at the International Automobile and Motorcycle Exhibition in Berlin. The success was a further increase in sales. Tornax was one of over 500 manufacturers that existed in the German Empire in the 1920s. After the inflation of 1923 , motorcycles were produced and sold in abundance, many backyard screwdrivers tried their luck, and the necessary parts were bought from numerous suppliers. However, Wewer started straight away with large and expensive motorcycles. From the beginning he used 600 cc JAP engines from London ; these had an excellent reputation and were very powerful.

As was customary at the time, many parts were bought in: the fork came from the Tiger works in Cologne, the tanks from Spillner in Cologne, the 200 mm brakes from Pränafa in Solingen, and the gearboxes from Hermes-Getriebebau from 1927 onwards delivered in Wuppertal (previously by Burman). Paints came from the paint factory Windhövel and Höfer, also from Wuppertal.

The racing events, which are so useful for advertising, were attended early on. Many victories were achieved, for example. B. the opening race of the Nürburgring in 1927 in the 750 solo class. A 750 JAP-V engine was used here.

Tornax enjoyed an excellent reputation. Wewer succeeded in persuading the engine manufacturer JAP to make special deliveries. All 600 engines had more power than the same products that the competition was supplied with. The 600 cm³ OHV engine was exclusively supplied to Tornax. In 1929 Tornax moved to the large factory in Schwelmer Str. 100–108 in Wuppertal-Langerfeld. Over 4,000 machines of the successful II-29 model were built in 1929.

The new company address was now: Tornax-Werk Ernst Wewer, Wuppertal-Langerfeld, Schwelmer Str. 100/108

It was never built cheaply but rather well (and expensively). In 1931 the 72 hp JAP 1000 engine was used, and Tornax guaranteed 190 km / h. Until the war it was the fastest production machine in the world.

After the seizure of power by the National Socialists, the import of foreign products has been banned; Tornax was now dependent on domestic products. From 1934 onwards, Columbus engines manufactured by Horex were installed. The crowning glory of the Columbus engine range in 1935 was the 800 Tornado engine, a parallel twin with 800 cm³ and chain-driven overhead camshaft .

In 1935 Tornax began producing cars. The chassis was built in Wuppertal-Langerfeld, and a tuned DKW engine was used. The bare chassis were driven on the road to the Hebmüller bodywork in Wuppertal-Barmen and dressed. 158 Tornax-Rex came into being.

In 1936 the first two-stroke engines came into the program (K 12, K 125, K 20, K 25), using ILO engines. In 1941, Tornax was no longer allowed to build motorcycles due to armaments production, and another 60 125 cc was built, most of which were delivered to Austria.

After the Second World War, mainly two-stroke engines with engines from the ILO engine works from Pinneberg were built from 1948 , including machines with single-cylinder two-stroke engines with 118 cm³, 125 cm³, 175 cm³ and 200 cm³ displacement. The highlight of this development was the "Schwarze Josefine", a 250 cm³ two-cylinder two-stroke machine with 15 HP and a full swing chassis. The motorcycle was nicknamed by Carl Hertweck (then editor-in-chief of “Das Motorrad” magazine ); it was a reference to Josephine Baker . Reason: The motorcycle was usually painted black, had a lush, curved sheet metal dress and the chassis with its large suspension travel was reminiscent of the springy hips of the black dancer. The Tornax S 250 was available in black or green metallic paint. With its full hub brakes, huge double seat bench and 16-inch wheels, which, in conjunction with the swing arm chassis, ensured comfortable roadholding, the construction set standards in German motorcycle construction. In 1953/1954 a 250 cm³ four-stroke two-cylinder engine with 15 hp from the company Opti was installed in the same chassis (a design by Richard Küchen ), but this was not yet technically mature. Only a few examples of this model were made by Tornax until production was discontinued in 1955.


From 1953 the FP 50 / II "Tornax Toxy" moped was created , with a 1.5 HP 49 cm³ ILO engine.


Tornax Rex sports car from 1935

In 1934 the company began making a small sports car called the Tornax Rex . The self-designed car in 1933 with a central tubular frame and roadster body clad by Hebmüller had the 2-cylinder two-stroke engine CM700 (700 cm³) from the DKW F4 , but with a changed gear ratio. When DKW launched its own sports car ( DKW Front Luxus Sport ) in 1936 , the Rex was discontinued after about 150 contractually guaranteed units due to the interruption of the engine delivery by the DKW factory.

Since then, Tornax has only delivered two-wheelers.

New car registrations in the German Reich from 1933 to 1938

year Registration numbers
1934 101
1936 11



Since 1942, so-called “drop drums” have been manufactured in the factory for the Africa campaign . In March 1945, large parts of the plant were destroyed by bombing. On April 14, 1945, US troops occupied Wuppertal.

Wuppertal became part of the British zone of occupation . In 1945 production was resumed with 60 former employees who had returned from the war; Initially, simple tin handcarts for reconstruction and waffle irons were made.

Later in 1945, the granted British Army of the Rhine under Alan Bruce authorizing repair army own motorcycles , which was then extended to own Tornax-motorcycles. In addition, there was the production of a simple box sidecar for motorcycles to keep the reconstruction workers mobile.

In 1948, after the ILO engine works in Pinneberg started delivering built -in engines again, the actual motorcycle production started again with the pre-war K 125 model.

In 1955 the company stopped manufacturing.

The Wewer couple and some employees continued to repair and supply spare parts for the motorcycles produced up to then.

There was also a representation for BMW Isetta and BMW motorcycles as well as the sale of lawn mowers.


  • Tornax company history & model chronicle in the MOTORRAD publications: part 1 (edition 1992/1, page 32), part 2 (edition 1992/2, page 36), part 3 (edition 1992/3, page 38), part 4 (edition 1992/4, page 38)
Tornax from the 1980s
  • Tornax motorcycles, back again (report in the magazine MOTORRAD , edition 1981/21, p. 54)
  • Tornax RX 80: Test report in the magazine MOTORRAD , issue 1982/12, page 32
  • Tornax TS 80: Test report in the magazine MOTORRAD , issue 1982/07, page 46

Web links

Commons : Tornax vehicles  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Tornax until the mid-1950s

Photos and brochures

Tornax from the 1980s

Photos and brochures

Individual evidence

  2. December 3, 1958: The renovation
  3. possibly from "Motor Rundschau 7, April 10th / April 1951".
  4. Photo Kosmos 125 TS In contrast to the other vehicles, the displacement of this model is not published.
  5. ^ Original brochure / conversation with Erna Wewer, Ernst Wewer's wife.
  6. ^ Hans Christoph von Seherr-Thoss : The German automobile industry. Documentation from 1886 until today . Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1974, ISBN 3-421-02284-4 , p. 328 .
  7. a b Conversation with Erna Wewer in the summer of 1995.
  9. "Hoffmann broke down in 1954, Tornax 1955, Adler and Triumph 1957, Ardie and Express 1958, Horex ..." in the magazine MOTORRAD , article "100 YEARS - 100 NAMEN, AMEN".
  10. Table of contents mcl_1992. ( Memento of the original from May 13, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. ^ Table of contents, 1982, MOTORRAD magazine. ( Memento of the original from December 17, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. Photo of the test report.