Jawa's upgrading

Jawa 638
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Jawa: Czechoslovakia. 'RengggKeDENGGGkeng! ', blue smoke. Broken ignitions. Worth nothing at all. Bad chrome. Ho!

Jawa was a global brand

Jawa once made highly modern, reliable motorcycles. Motorcycles that you could be seen on. But just as things happened so much, the development of the once proud brand got stuck in the nets of the planned economy. The government determined what kind of motorcycles should be made. (And what kind of crops had to be grown and some basic things.) Nice and clear, right?

Motors for the masses

Even at that time and in that system, governments were not very aware of what they were doing. While in the Eastern Bloc, behind the then still stainless steel curtain, dogma was held tight, the reprehensible 'communists' were overtaken on all levels left and right by that other reprehensible system: capitalism. Or let's call it 'liberal entrepreneurship'.

In the Eastern bloc people remained despondent on their assigned, usually two-stroke motorcycles. They had to wait a long time to get such a thing, but they were happy with it. A motorbike was their transport. Transport where no westerner wanted to be seen dead anymore. But the name Jawa kept ringing in the west. Also because of the politically sponsored successes on the phenomenal Jawa (ice) speedway motorcycles. 500 cc alcohol-fired single cylinders without brakes. That's just motorcycling!

Nostalgia rules!

At some point, Jawas became nostalgic. People in what had long been here in the west began to restore, collect, and drive. That was a fun hobby. An affordable hobby. Because the motorcycles were cheap. The parts were very cheap through the now ex-Eastern Bloc countries. 'We' began to visit motorcycle fairs in the former Eastern bloc and bought all kinds of Jawas for small change, with the 350 cc two-strokes and even the extremely rare 500 cc four-strokes changing hands for change.

And everyone was happy. Until things started to improve in the now independent states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. When money came loose there. Then proud Czechs and Slovaks realized they had lost their national heritage and started to buy it back. They wanted to pay for that. The Jawa 350 TS in the pictures was bought for € 300. And went back to his home country for € 2.500. The earlier models with all that sheet metal were once, in their 350 cc two-cylinder version, pure status symbols that in fact only went abroad for hard currency.

From… for…

The 350 in the photo was bought here for € 800 and found a Czech owner for € 4.250. He sold it locally for 2 million more. For the Californians only intended for export, the local population is now tapping up to almost € 20.000. And a 500 cc four-stroke Jawa? He can easily carry a proud € 40.000 as asking price

All prices are madness

Our hobby is made prohibitively expensive by people with more money than passion. A motorcycle as an investment. It shouldn't get any crazier. Things are made for driving.

The consolation is that there are still quite a lot of Jawa models that have not yet fallen into the clutches of the money wolves that hunt far beyond the Veluwe. There are still opportunities there. Just as there are currently many types of other brands for sale for little. Then you just buy a nice classic for little. You enjoy it.

What if he unexpectedly makes the same leap in value as those crazy Jawas that nobody wanted? Well: then you have at least your pension arranged!

Meanwhile, there are new Jawas from the once Indian license building. They are very retro. And not expensive. Not expensive yet.

More articles about classic engines can be found via this link

Also interesting to read:
- Classics from the Eastern Block
- AJ / DP MOTORENMZ, Jawa and Planeta: Socialist workhorses
- Jawa 638: the affordable Jawa
- A Jawa, if you can afford it
- Hidden classics


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  1. a 250cc jawa, bought for 55 guilders from the brother of a friend of my sister, was my first motorcycle in 67

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