During the 200s, midget cars were in vogue. They formed a nice alternative to the motor scooters or in German: the Motorroller. There were several manufacturers of the small cars. One of these was the NWF 1. This Fuldamobil S200, built under license in Wilhelmshaven and Lohne and renamed, was sold by Henk Albronda in the Netherlands under the name Bambino XNUMX.
Within the daily traffic picture you will hardly encounter a Bambino 200, or rather: the chance is very small. There are still a few operational copies known in the Netherlands, and you will also find one in the dwarf car section of the Louwman Museum in The Hague. The first thought that comes to mind is: “Hey, a Fuldamobil, how nice!” It's no surprise that that thought comes to mind. But it's a Bambino, actually an imported Fuldamobil S1 (or an NWF 200, if you will).
Alweco and NWF connection
During the 200s, the Dutchman Henk Albronda had an empire. These included the trading company Hostaco in Rotterdam and the Veghel construction company Alweco. Albronda decided to turn the license-built NWF 1 (actually the Fuldamobil S200 with a different name) into a business model, he saw a lot of future in a small, cheap car, the import of which was initially in the hands of MVH from Deventer. Albronda took over that activity. In fact, he wanted to assemble the tricycle, which was built under license by NWF in Wilhelmshaven (and was called NWF XNUMX) in the Netherlands. That never happened. However, a number of these dwarf trucks from Wilhelmshaven ended up in Veghel via Rotterdam, at the Albronda assembly location. There they received the Bambino name tags. These were then sold in the Groothandelsgebouw in Rotterdam.
Optimism and overtaken by reality
Fuldamobil in Fulda started building small cars early in the fifties. And in July 1953 the Fuldamobil S1 appeared. People had high expectations for this, because small motor vehicles with a closed body were becoming increasingly popular. NWF in Wilhelmshaven bought the license rights, it expected a lot from the car. In addition, NWF opened a second branch in Lohne, where a nice stock of the Fuldamobil S1/NWF 200 was built. They turned out to be difficult to wear, the tricycle hype was soon on its way out. NWF went bankrupt at the end of 1955. Henk Albronda, who had already set his sights on a collaboration with NWF, bought up the remaining stock of NWF 200 copies from the bankruptcy estate. Until 1958 it was therefore still possible to order new Bambino in the Netherlands, which was already built in 1955.
Alloy body, tubular chassis
The Fuldamobil S1/NWF 200/Bambino 200 was a small car with a light metal body, with a third door at the back. The car had a seat with space for two adults and a (small) child. Furthermore, the cart had two tiny front wheels and one rear wheel. The front and rear axles were both suspended in rubber, and the tricycle had coil springs and hydraulically acting telescopic shock absorbers all around. The drum brakes all around were mechanically operated. The chassis consisted of a central tubular frame. The engine was a one-cylinder two-stroke ILO machine with 200 cc, which was coupled to a three-speed gearbox. The nine horsepower was transferred to the rear wheel via a chain. The handy little car was good for a top speed of 75 kilometers per hour. The Bambino 200 was offered for a price of just under three thousand guilders, but was actually sold sparsely. Despite the rather positive commendation of the Bambino ("comfortable and safe") and the most careful workmanship.
Developments and competition
Moreover, the Bambino had quite a bit of competition to face during the second half of the fifties. Take the Goggomobil T250, or bigger one cars like the Fiat 600 and the Citroën 2CV. Or a used Beetle. And take the fact that people were given more and more to spend, and that they could also turn to other manufacturers when choosing a dwarf car. In addition, there was a pace in the developments in the field of mobility. That does not alter the fact that the Bambino 200 was a mischievous little cart in all respects, which certainly made a contribution to the history of the car industry in the Netherlands, even though the Bambino was never assembled in the Netherlands.
Henk Albronda also tried to build a sports car under the brand name Bambino, and a prototype of a tricycle was displayed at the AutoRAI in 1957. In fact, that was the first real Dutch Bambino. This was not warmly received and did not go into production after the RAI exhibition. It resulted in an adjustment to four wheels including rear differential, but that car did not get off the ground technically. The sporty car simply had too little power for appealing performance. At ILO they were willing to think along about supplying a larger engine, and Sachs also wanted to help, but that involved a very high investment. Albronda didn't take that risk. Thus, the Bambino adventure lasted only a few years. It became a footnote in Dutch history. But one that gave color to the era when many Dutch entrepreneurs and/or constructors attempted to capitalize on the phenomenon of dwarf cars.