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Zündapp Janus. Dwarf car in mirror image.

IMG 2012
This beautiful specimen of the Zündapp Janus is in Danish possession. Unique. Image: Erik van Putten
ER Classics Desktop 2022

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.


Zundapp Janus

Special interior

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.

Middle engine

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.

Produced briefly

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.

Read also:
BMW Isetta. A unique and beloved dwarf car.
Bambino 200. Dwarf car with three wheels and a Dutch touch.
The Shelter. A Dutch dwarf car
Norso. a very ugly dwarf car
Dwarf cars are hot!

3 Comments

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  1. Such a shame that the time these cars were suitable for the market was so short. Overtaken by the rapidly increasing prosperity, especially in Germany with the Wirtschaftswunder. And so nice to see that the concept is actually making a comeback.

  2. I know of another one that is currently under restoration. The body is now being made tight. I'd never seen one before, so I thought it was two fronts welded together at first 🙂 Very nice thing!

  3. Oh, how nice, I can still remember that my father came home with the Jans and that my mother, zi=usje and I were able to get in. Exciting and all neighbors were amazed. In my father's motorcycle shop, Zündap Isabella scooters were sold so that we also had to get acquainted with the Janus. I remember that my father saw this, funny but not as a good business proposition so that he did not place a (wholesale) order.

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