It's the fifties. After the Second World War, the economy continued to improve. It went well for the people. They got more money to spend and wanted something different than the daily transport by motorcycle, through all kinds of weather. Germany is rising and the automotive industry is recovering. It is the time of the midget cars, BMW, Messerschmitt, Fuldamobil, Heinkel and Glas are just a few German manufacturers that respond to this need. The midget cars enjoy a high degree of popularity. And the Zündapp motorcycle brand does not want to lag behind. And so the special Zündapp Janus appears in 1957.
Dwarf car in mirror image
The mirrored dwarf car was designed by the German Dornier. The ex-aircraft manufacturer gave the special prototype its baptism of fire in 1955 under the name Dornier Delta. After Zündapp had taken over the rights of the prototype, the manufacturer started production of the Zündapp Janus in 1957. Little Zündapp was named after the two-faced Roman God. That was no coincidence, because the front and back were almost indistinguishable. The Zündapp was designed almost symmetrically. Not only the outside was special. There were more features that made the Microcar from Nürnberg special.
The Zündapp Janus had a remarkable interior. The benches were back-to-back and each could seat two people. It meant that the passengers sat back to back, assuming full occupancy. The occupants did not have to get in, but entered the car from the front and rear. A large side-opening door was fitted to either side.
The sympathetic Janus also had some striking features from a technical point of view. It had a mid-engine, which fully benefited the weight distribution. The single-cylinder two-stroke engine had a capacity of 248 cc and produced 14 hp. The reason for choosing this small engine was partly because in Germany you had a driving license category up to 250 cc. Of course, that meant that the little Zündapp did not deliver top performances. Despite that limited power, the Zündapp Janus was equipped with four hydraulic brakes, which slowed down the four independently suspended wheels.
The Zündapp Janus was built from 1957 to 1958. The sales numbers were disappointing. 6902 copies were made. Zündapp sold the factory where the Janus was built to Bosch. The Janus was therefore not in production for long. Now we can safely say that hardly any unique and technically sophisticated cars have been built in the microcar segment.