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Designer Friedrich Eugen Maier: Prototype of a streamlined people's car

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On the trail of the designer Eugen Maier
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A will be on March 15, 1976 at 4 p.m. Friedrich Eugen Maier was last seen alive. On June 23, 1976, at 12.30 p.m., his body was found in his apartment in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Nobody knows exactly when the lonely, embittered and impoverished graduate engineer died, who was probably the nucleus of several pioneering designs and ideas in the automotive sector.

Without Jörg Jansen from the Krefeld area, Maier would probably be complete fell into oblivion. The motor vehicle expert and classic car enthusiast came across Maier's legacy, so to speak, in 2008: a bizarre, streamlined car with a rear-engined engine.

An unknown car from 'Leichtbau Maier'

The strange vehicle belongs to a paint shop that is about to be closed and is for sale. Jansen did not hesitate, bought the car and completed the restoration that had begun. But what did the original car really look like? 'The only clue was a type plate with the label Leichtbau Maier, and the engine data stamped there matched a DKW, but not the installed Beetle engine,' recalls Jansen.

He absolutely wants that Uncover the secret of this car about which no information is available to date. One of his first points of contact is the prototype museum in Hamburg, where he gets the address from Hanspeter Bröhl, an automobile historian and specialist in streamlined bodies. He can actually remember seeing the battered car in the 1975 film 'Tadellöser & Wolff'. And he knows that the car once belonged to the Gut Hand collection in Aachen - a collection that the roofer Heinz Vogel has put together over the years, mostly from junkyard finds.

Searching the Internet brings success

After several visits to Vogel, Jansen at least knows which stations his car came from after 1976 via Gut Hand to the paint shop. But another classic car expert helps him to take a bigger step forward. The Dutchman Herman van Oldeneel was immediately enthusiastic about the car when he saw it at a presentation at a classic car event at Schloss Dyck. He promises to help Jansen and actually finds it. Jansen can still remember the excited call.

'I got theI started a search on the Internet in which I simply combined the name Maier with the first name that was used earlier, 'reveals van Oldeneel enthusiastically. He promptly came across a patent on the website of an American patent office that shows the body of Jansen's car. It is on display on January 27, 1938, based on a patent issued in Germany as early as 1935, and it contains, among other things, the full first name and address of Maier in Berlin.

Maier held numerous patents

Now things are happening in quick succession. The name research at the German Patent Office unearths real treasures. For example, a self-supporting body registered in the German Reich on April 2, 1930, 'whose framework forms a framework', there are also patents for a suspension strut, an adjustable driver's seat and much more. Inventions that all later went into series production in some form. But why k If no one can remember Maier today, why were his constructions swept under the carpet?

Meticulous research

Jansen does not give up, he wants to know more about the genius who built his car. He contacts Christine Dankbar from the 'Berliner Zeitung', which publishes a report in January 2014 with the title: 'Who knows Friedrich Eugen Maier?'

Jansen takes another step because it reports Jacqueline Tschorr from the Hereditas heir investigation, who finally succeeds in finding Maier's death certificate. Jansen himself is also active. On the Internet, he looks at the street mentioned on the death certificate where Maier ended up living. He discovers a funeral home that he calls and after looking through old files it is clear: Maier was buried by this institute. He was so poor that the social welfare office paid for the funeral. Jansen also learns that Maier had a daughter.

The head of the funeral home and Tschorr help him locate the daughter. After several phone calls and a lot of empathy, she is ready to receive Jansen. Jansen quickly realized why the daughter was initially so reserved and not very enthusiastic. 'My father was a patriarch,' she says and explains how much she suffered as a child from him and his sometimes choleric nature.

Friedrich Egon Maier's life story is like a tragedy

The account of her past and her father is like a tragedy. Friedrich Eugen Maier was born in the Lörrach district in 1898. He loved flying and sailing, at the age of 19 he was already a pilot. After studying in Karlsruhe, he went to Colombia as an aircraft yard manager on behalf of Hugo Junkers, whom he saw as his foster father. He later moved to Moscow-Fili for Junkers and was with Walter in Prague in 1928,developed the aircraft engines.

At the beginning of the 1930s he founded the Leichtbau Maier company in Berlin, where he designed the designs mentioned above, although he was never enthusiastic about driving. Maier was a respected man at the time, in 1933 he received 300,000 gold marks from a Bavarian chemical company for the development of a Volkswagen. Maier built the car shown here with a DKW rear engine and numerous innovations such as a self-supporting all-steel body. He submitted patents, some of which have now disappeared, others were recognized late or never, just as little as his people's car. Because Maier did not want to come to terms with the Nazi regime at the time.

A life between ruins

Soon became he forced to repair Wehrmacht vehicles. A bombing raid in 1944 damaged its prototype and destroyed many documents. He lived with his wife and daughter in poor conditions in the ruins, always full of hope of still getting money for his patents. When his wife wanted to work to alleviate the financial hardship, he categorically forbade her to do so, it would have been a humiliation for him.

For Maier, things continued to go downhill. The family left him, and the Bavarian chemical company, which once gave him the money to design the Volkswagen, sued him for damages. The little money that Maier was awarded for some less important patents after the war was immediately collected by the group.

Peugeot gave Maier one as a present 202 - but why?

Jansen has not yet found out the name of this company. After Maier's death, many documents and the trial documents ended up in the trash. The daughter doesn't remember either. She has sold her father's few legacies. The prototype was bought by a company that rented out film props. There, the DKW engine has probably been swapped for a Beetle engine and the rear axle with the height-adjustable struts has been converted.

All the secrets about Friedrich Eugen Maier have not yet been solved. So in 1939 Peugeot gave him a Type 202, which incidentally remained Maier's only car after the war. But what did he get it for? Jansen is grateful for any information or photos on the subject of Maier lightweight construction. The editorial team is happy to pass everything on. 'I am a person who loves justice,' says Jansen, 'and I have made it my mission to erect a monument to this man.'

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