Maico was founded by Ulrich Maisch and his associates. That soon became Maico. In 1926 the company started as a bicycle manufacturer. And in 1934 motorcycle production began with purchased engine blocks. We found a nice Maico 500 as a photo model for this report.
During WWII Maico had to make things for the Luftwaffe. They did just fine, but without the true Nazi Spirit. After peace broke out, Maico was therefore one of the first German factories to be allowed to make motorcycles again. This gave the people at Maico a development advantage over the competition and the name was put in the market even more firmly by the successes in off-road sports.
Cars are the future. "NOT!"
In 1955, Maico took over the car manufacturer Champion in the context of thinking about the future and started making cars between 1955 and 1957. Because by then it became clear that quadricycles were the future.
That car event was not an overwhelming success and Maico focused entirely on motorcycle construction again, with the Wehrmacht becoming a very good customer. Still, the Wehrmacht was not enough and Maico stumbled with an almost Italian-looking triple jump, from one crisis to another. The brand name thereby fell into Dutch hands. And the plans for the once-strong brand were impressive. In 1997 there were even proposals to set up a serious motorcycle factory in Bunnik with a dream 'emission' of 3000 units / year. It didn't work out for him either ...
Old Maico motorcycles are now popular. Old Maico cars are rare, so interesting, but not overly popular. But apparently interesting and rare enough to be offered as a 'project'. In a classic world where 'patina' 'total restorations' are the keywords, this is an encouraging and endearing situation. And so you are at what once proudly rolled out the showroom as Maico 500.
The Maico 500
The Maico four-wheelers were based on the Champion cars. There was a 400 cc basic version. The public, however, opted for the 500 cc water-cooled two-cylinder version. But quite a few steering arms broke, for example. That happened so often that Maico came up with some kind of exchange system. You took your broken Maico to the garage, and you got another one. The broken one was repaired and went to the next trade-in. Maico developed a whole new front axle to solve the problem, but meanwhile the money was running out. And the banks also closed the cash taps. Maico simply did not have the mass to compete against the big automakers and stopped car production in 1958.
A challenging project
The project we found at Potomac Classics is… challenging. Only about twenty years ago there were still enough car enthusiasts with traditional craftsmanship who would immediately embrace such a find and put it in the workshop. With a few years of quiet work, enthusiasts at that time had a classic that they loved and which they had covered up to the last bolt and nut.
Now it is no longer a storm for these types of projects. This has the pleasant result that the purchase and restoration do not run directly into the six figures.
And with the current affordable range of specialty tools, the restoration of such a simple classic is perhaps the best stepping stone to tackle something bigger afterwards.
And so before you know it you will have a lot of nice classics in about six years.