Motorworld’s newspaper №64

If a man wants to live – medical doctors can do nothing about that (a Russian saying). If a peasant’s son wants to become an engineer, there is no that kind of power that could prevent him from doing so. The life of Wilhelm Gutbrod is the strongest proof of this.

He was born in 1890 in a rural family, left school and departed for Korntal where he started studying turnery. Wilhelm had been working in Robert Bosch (an electrical engineering company); after the army service, he enrolled at the Esslingen Institute of Technology. He did brilliantly in his examination thus winning a scholarship, without it he could hardly continue his studies because of the lack of financial means. He was a student for two years until the World War I upon beginning of which he has been called up for military service. At war, Gutbrod completed his book knowledge with practical knowledge when working as a motor mechanic.

After the war, Wilhelm graduated the Esslingen Institute of Technology; he offered a light two-stroke engine motorcycle as a graduation project. At first, he has been working in Kaelble, a company manufacturing road-rollers. Then he managed to get Eugen Klotz (a manufacturer) interested in his motorcycle project. Gutbrod’s bikes has been manufactured from 1923 till 1926 under the Klotz marque.

These machines proved yourselves gaining sporting achievements, but as for the market of cheap bikes, they could hardly beat the machines made by giants like DKW. When Klotz decided to quit the motorcycle manufacturing, Wilhelm Gutbrod and Gustav Rau (the sales manager at the Maschinenfabrik owned by Eugen Klotz) has founded their own motorcycle company named Standard Fahrzeugfabrik.

At the beginning, the company occupied an abandoned military stables on the outskirts of Ludwigsburg. The place was miserable but ambitions were colossal. If that didn’t go off all right with our bike for the masses, they thought, we must start building high-end bikes for those who can pay a lot of money for a lux machine built of only the best parts and having the supreme workmanship.

Standard BT1000

The quintessence of this was the Standard BT1000 manufactured in 1930, one of the top-priced German bikes of those days. A double-cylinder V-engine having 992 cc displacement was the heart of the machine. It was an MAG engine manufactured by Motosacoche, a Swiss company. It was common that motorcycle companies sold their engines under alternative marques: Motosacoche – MAG, Horex – Columbus, Rudge – Python) This engine was designed just after the WWI and couldn’t be considered a modern as of the late 1920s: an archaic valve timing “valve over the valve” (overhead inlet and bottom outlet valves were driven from the bottom camshaft) and moderate finning of cast-iron cylinders. But it had enough flexibility, good reliability, plus the capacity of 22 h.p. at 3,800 rpm was well up to standards of those times. English Matchless and French Terrot has been using these engines for a good reason. Torque transmission was implemented via a chain going to the hand shifted four-speed gearbox Hurth installed as an individual unit.

Standard BT1000

Standard BS500

The year before BT1000 was introduced, 500 & 750 cc Standard bikes got a new chassis, which was later used in the 1000 cc model. The chassis was a strong double cradle made of pipes. The final flourish was a Castle fork with friction shock absorbers; the same forks were used in Brough Superior.

Standard BT1000 was dressed up before intending purchasers as a luxurious touring bike that could be optionally equipped with a sidecar (in 1933, the bike got the name Imperator). This machine was a pricy one – the price was 1,580 Reichsmarks. For reference: a monthly mean wage of a usual worker was less than 100 Reichsmarks, and the price for a mini-car Opel 4/20 was 1,990 Reichsmarks. So, the total number produced was limited.

First Gutbrod car

In 1933, dramatic changes had happened to Wilhelm Gutbrod and his company. First of all, the production facilities had been moved to Stuttgart suburbs. At the second, Gutbrod’s company has started the manufacturing of bikes equipped with new, proprietary engines. Thirdly, Wilhelm has launched the manufacturing of three & four wheelers under the Gutbrod marque – this project turned out to be so successful and commercially-viable that the company moved completely to the manufacturing of these cars after the WWII. No place for Standard BT1000 bikes was found in the postwar company. Sad but true.


Manufacturer Standard Fahrzeugfabrik, Ludwigsburg, Germany
Years of manufacture 1930 – 1933
Quantity produced, units N/A
Price 1580 RM
Today’s value N/A
Type MAG, V-twin, 4-stroke
Engine capacity, cc 992
Bore and stroke, mm 82 х 94
Engine rating 22 hp at 3800 rpm
Sparking Bosch
Battery 6 V
Clutch Multiple-plate, oil-bath
Transmission 4-speed
Frame type Duplex tubular, steel
Front suspension «Castle»
Rear suspension Rigid
Brakes Drum type
Wheel size N/A
Length, mm 2050*
Width, mm 850*
Height, mm 1010*
Wheelbase, mm 1380*
Ground clearance, mm 80*
Seat height, mm 750
Mass, kg
Gas tank size, l
Maximum speed, km/h
Range, km  

* – Data on the results of the measurement at the exhibit of “Motorworld by V.Sheyanov”.