Matchless German: 1952 Horex Regina 350

Alan Cathcart tells us the story of Horex, the best-selling marque in Germany at the beginning of World War II, and the 1952 Regina 350.

| November/December 2019

1952-horex 

1952 Horex Regina 350

Engine: 342cc air-cooled OHV 4-stroke single, 69mm x 91.5mm bore and stroke, 6.8:1 compression ratio, 19hp at 6,250rpm
Top speed: 78mph (claimed)
Carburetion: 26mm Bing 2/26/23
Transmission: 4-speed, enclosed chain final drive
Ignition: 6v, coil and breaker points ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Single downtube open-cradle frame with engine as semi-stressed member/53.7in (1,365mm)
Suspension: Oil-damped 35mm Horex telescopic fork front, plunger rear
Brakes: 6.3in (160mm) SLS Horex drums front and rear
Tires: 3.25 x 19in front, 3.5 x 19in rear
Weight (dry): 310.2lb (141kg) dry
Seat height: 30in (760mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.8gal (18ltr)

Horex was Germany’s leading manufacturer for almost 50 years either side of World War II, and was in many ways comparable to Britain’s older Matchless marque in terms of product and marketplace positioning, as well as in its road racing involvement.

But curiously, the company is little known outside Germany, despite its products being exported to as many as 65 different countries during the 1950s (though not including the U.K.). That’s despite its wide range of models having an undeniably British air about them in terms of design, and even styling.



Horex beginnings

Located in Bad Homburg, north of Frankfurt, Horex was founded in 1923 by Fritz Kleeman, 22, whose father Friedrich owned the Rex glassware company, a manufacturer of preservative jars based there, and was also the main shareholder in the nearby engine manufacturer Motorenfabrik Oberursel. This firm had formerly supplied engines to power the Fokker fighter aircraft used by Germany’s air squadrons in World War I, including the famous Dr.I triplane in which the “Red Baron” Manfred von Richthofen gained his final 19 victories out of a total of 80, and in which he was killed on April 21, 1918. Postwar, Oberursel developed a range of proprietary engines under the Columbus name, and Fritz Kleeman, an aspiring motorcycle racer, built a bike using a 250cc OHV Columbus engine with a 3-speed hand-change gearbox and a tubular steel frame made by the Stein company. To name it, he conflated Homburg and Rex to create the Horex brand name, and put the result into production to help satisfy the growing demand for personal transportation in postwar Germany.

The model’s sales success was such that, in 1925 Horex and Columbus merged, and the joint company went on to develop a best-selling range of OHV and sidevalve singles from 250cc up to 600cc. In the 1930s Horex’s gifted designer Hermann Reeb produced a series of innovative designs which powered the marque to the top of the German sales charts, with a full model range running all the way from the 63cc Ghom 2-stroke clip-on engine for bicycles, through 198cc, 298cc, 346cc, 498cc and 598cc The model’s sales success was such that, in 1925 Horex and Columbus merged, and the joint company went on to develop a best-selling range of OHV and sidevalve singles from 250cc up to 600cc. In the 1930s Horex’s gifted designer Hermann Reeb produced a series of innovative designs which powered the marque to the top of the German sales charts, with a full model range running all the way from the 63cc Ghom 2-stroke clip-on engine for bicycles, through 198cc, 298cc, 346cc, 498cc and 598cc capacities, up to 980cc models. Thanks to this, Horex was by some distance Germany’s No. 1 at the outbreak of World War II, its best-selling and most profitable marque, outstripping BMW which concentrated on more expensive, larger capacity models — and DKW and others, which focused on lightweight or midsized machines.MC

Shaune
12/5/2019 8:27:34 AM

No photos Alan?




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