Two-Wheeled Car: 1958 Maico Mobil MB200

Equipped with luxurious features, the Maico Mobil MB200 is regarded by some enthusiasts as the ultimate scooter.

  • At the end of World War II, with money from the Marshall Plan, Maico built their own range of single and twin-cylinder 2-stroke motorcycles under the name of Blizzard and Typhoon, and these were followed in 1951 by the Mobil.
    Photo by Andy Westlake
  • There’s no doubt that even in its standard specification — the coachwork alone weighs in at 253 pounds — the MB200 was a heavy beast. Still, it could maintain a comfortable 50mph cruising speed with little or no protestation from the 2-stroke single, as proven by Motor Cycle in its October 1956 review of the model.
    Photo by Andy Westlake
  • Front suspension was a telescopic fork, while at the rear a comfortable ride for both the pilot and passenger was provided by a set of twin shocks along with a plush sprung rubber Pagusa seat.
    Photo by Andy Westlake
  • A pair of twin shocks hide inside the rear bodywork, adding comfort.
    Photo by Andy Westlake
  • The fairing and large wraparound windshield provide a surprising amount of coverage in times of adverse weather.
    Photo by Andy Westlake
  • Compared to much of the opposition, the Mobil was undoubtedly one of the most luxurious scooters built during the 1950s, but its radical looks and high price meant that it wasn’t a huge seller.
    Photo by Andy Westlake
  • Current owner Simon Balistrari and his Maico.
    Photo by Andy Westlake
  • The full-size spare tire is stored at the rear of the bike.
    Photo by Andy Westlake
  • The single door under the rear seat opens to access storage.
    Photo by Andy Westlake
  • Funky and eye-catching at the same time, the Maico Mobil is an attention-getter.
    Photo by Andy Westlake

Engine: 197cc air-cooled 2-stroke single, 65mm x 59.5mm bore and stroke, 7:1 compression ratio, 11hp @ 5,000rpm
Top speed: 55mph (period test)
Carburetion: Single Bing 2/26/44
Transmission: 4-speed foot shift, chain final drive
Electrics: 6v, coil and breaker points ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Multi-tube space frame, 50.75in (1,289mm)
Suspension: Telescopic forks front, dual shocks rear            
Brakes: 5in (127mm) SLS drum front and rear
Tires: 3.25 x 14in front and rear
Weight (w/half gallon fuel): 340lb (154.2kg)
Seat height: 30.5in (775mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 2.5gal (9.5ltr)/75mpg (avg./period test)
Price then (U.K.)/now: $587 (£209)/$15,000-$25,000

With a 4-speed gearbox, a full windshield, under-seat luggage capacity and trendsetting indicators, it was hardly surprising that the Maico Mobil was classed as a “two-wheeled car” when it was launched at the Reutlingen Show in 1950 in Germany.

Manufactured in 1958, the bike shown here was one of the last of the 200cc singles to emerge from the Maico factory at Wurtemberg in Germany. This MB200 has been owned by scooter enthusiast Simon Balistrari since 2013, and until the day of my visit, it had been parked in Simon and his wife Elaine’s dining room, so this was its first outing on the road. Understandably, both he and I were keen to fire up the 2-stroke and put it into action.

In the beginning

Before we don our helmet and goggles, perhaps we should reflect a little on the history of Maico and the launch of the unusual looking two-wheeler in 1950. For anyone who followed motocross in the 1970s and 1980s, the Maico brand is often associated with the screaming 2-strokes ridden by the likes of European motocross riders Badger Goss and Adolf Weil to championship honors during those decades.

Maico was founded in 1926 by Ulrich Maisch, initially building bicycles. Ten years later the German company expanded into producing motorcycles, using a 143cc engine manufactured by German 2-stroke specialist ILO-Motorenwerke to power its utilitarian range of lightweight motorcycles. At the end of World War II, with money from the Marshall Plan, Maico built their own range of single and twin-cylinder 2-stroke motorcycles under the name of Blizzard and Typhoon, and these were followed in 1951 by the Mobil.

Powered by a 148cc 2-stroke engine, the Mobil had aluminum bodywork and fairings built over a tubular space frame, which was unique in terms of both construction and style and owed little to any other two-wheeler. It provided maximum weather protection and carrying capacity for both rider and passenger, and with the fan-cooled engine mounted between the dashboard and the rider’s seat, period reporters were hard-pressed to describe it either as a motorcycle or a scooter. Perhaps not surprisingly, it got the title of “the two-wheeled car.”

11/26/2020 7:41:03 PM

love 'em. All ways wanted to paint one the same color as the 1950/63 Nash (2 wheel/4 wheel clones) and havea full glass door on my garage. Who needs TV, the net, etc. I'd stare at that w/a smile on my face every nite ;^)

1/31/2019 7:08:28 AM

The Marshall Plan was the US at its best. Thank God someone learned something from the aftermath of WWI.

1/31/2019 7:08:28 AM

Wonder if this is where Honda got their idea for the PC800? I own a pc800 & it shares many of it's features with the Mobil. Fully enclosed bodywork, weather protection & a trunk. Honda even referred to the PC as the Civic of MC's

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