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In 1885, the two mechanics Johann Baptist Winklhofer and Richard Adolf Jaenicke opened a repair business for bicycles in Chemnitz. Shortly afterwards they began to make bicycles of their own, since demand at that time was very high. These were soon being marketed under the brand name Wanderer, and in 1896 the company itself began to trade as Wanderer Fahrradwerke AG.

Wanderer built its first motorcycle in 1902. The idea of branching out into motor car production was finally put into practice in 1913. A small two-seater by the name of "Puppchen" heralded in Wanderer's tradition of motor car production that was to last several decades making civilian automobiles until 1941 and military vehicles until 1945.

The first two- or three-seater models used four-cylinder 1145 cc and 1220 cc engines. The 1220 cc model lasted until 1925. The first six-cylinder model appeared in 1928. By 1926, when Wanderer introduced a successful Typ 10, the company was making 25 vehicles a day; parts were made at the old plant in Chemnitz and assembled at the new site in Siegmar, delivered by rail right to the assembly line. Motorcycle production continued in Chemnitz alone.

During the Great Depression, in 1929, the company owner, Dresdner Bank, sold the motorcycle business to František Janeček, and in 1932 divested the rest of Wanderer. The company formed part of Auto Union with Horch, Audi and DKW.  Wanderer competed in different segments of mid-priced, small cars.

The Wanderer model (1692 cc four-cylinder) was similar to a parallel DKW model. In 1933, an Audi model was equipped with a Wanderer-built 1963 cc six-cylinder ohv engine. The top model from 1936 to 1939 was W50, propelled by a 2257 cc six-cylinder engine. There were also sporting fours (W24 and W25) and another six-cylinder model of 2632 cc (W23). Wanderer cars were always admired for their high quality and sporting character.[citation needed] In 1941 all civilian production was replaced with military vehicles. A subcamp of Flossenbürg concentration camp, KZ Siegmar-Schonau, was operated during the war to provide slave labour for the Wanderer vehicle plants. Take
Photo Tour of Wanderer Automobiles

The Siegmar and Schönau plants in Saxony were destroyed during World War II, closing this chapter in the history of automobiles. Post-war efforts to restore East German auto industry concentrated on Auto-Union facilities in Zwickau and Zschopau: Wanderer plants never recovered. Wanderer managers migrated to West Germany, being instrumental in the recovery of DKW.

Wanderer Fahrradwerke AG
Starting on October 1, 1897, after Wanderer had been converted into a joint-stock company in 1896 (and renamed Wanderer Fahrradwerke AG), Winklhofer became its sole director. In 1902 he withdrew from this position and joined the company's Supervisory Board, where he remained a member until 1929. In 1916 he established a second company in Munich, initially to manufacture munitions for the armed forces, and later transmission chains for machinery and motor vehicles. These were successfully marketed as the brand IWIS, an abbreviation of the name Johann Winklhofer Söhne (Sons). Johann Baptist Winklhofer died on March 28, 1949, in Landsberg on the River Lech.

Wanderer founders
Johann Baptist Winklhofer (left) and Richard Adolf Jaenicke

Johann Baptist Winklhofer was born in Munich on June 23, 1859, and the son of a brewer, He later apprenticed as a mechanic. From 1880 onwards he took a close interest in the high-wheel or "penny-farthing" bicycle - something very fashionable at that time. In 1883, he began to sell English penny-farthing bicycles as the traveling representative for the Rudge company. During this period he met a man named Richard Adolf Jaenicke, who later became his business partner. In 1885 they joined forces and started a bicycle repair workshop in the town of Chemnitz, Germany. A year later they began to produce their own bicycles and sell them under the name "Wanderer".

Dates in the history of Wanderer

  • 1885
    On February 26, establishment of "Chemnitzer-Velociped-Depot Winklhofer & Jaenicke"
  • 1887
    On January 4, adoption of the WANDERER name for the company's bicycles
  • 1896
    Change of company name to WANDERER Fahrradwerke AG, formerly Winklhofer & Jaenicke, Schönau/Chemnitz, on May 5
  • 1900
    Start of machine tool production
  • 1902
    Start of motorcycle production
  • 1904
    Start of typewriter production ("Continental" brand)
  • 1905
    First experiments in automobile design
  • 1908
    From January 15 on: WANDERER Werke, formerly Winklhofer & Jaenicke AG; capital: 1.6 million Marks, increased in 1915 to 5.25 million Marks
  • 1913
    Start of WANDERER automobile production
  • 1918
    By this year, well over 10,000 motorcycles and over 2,000 automobiles had been built.
    The price of the 1.5 hp motorcycle was some 750 Marks; the WANDERER Puppchen automobile cost 4,000 Marks
  • 1926
    The Wanderer W 10 with a 30 hp, four-cylinder engine appeared on the market. This model was available in various versions until 1932
  • 1927
    Wanderer's car production operations were moved from the main plant in Chemnitz-Schönau to a newly erected plant in the Chemnitz suburb of Siegmar
  • 1928
    The new Wanderer six-cylinder Type W 11 extended the model range upwards
  • 1929
    Wanderer motorcycle production wound down. The production facilities were sold off to NSU and the Czech company Janacek. Establishment of the JAWA company (Janacek/Wanderer) in Prague
  • 1931
    Ferdinand Porsche developed a modern generation of six-cylinder engines for Wanderer Werke AG
  • 1932
    Wanderer Werke AG sold off its car division to Auto Union AG. The machine tool, office machinery and bicycle production divisions remained within Wanderer Werke AG


Wanderer - Minicar Wanderer Puppchen at the Austrian Alpine Run 1914

Celebration at the Wanderer car plant in Chemnitz-Siegmar to mark the 50.000th Wanderer,
1936; Wanderer W50, convertible, six-cylinder inline engine, 2.3 litres, 50 hp.

The imposing facade of the Wanderer factory in Schönau near Chemnitz

The Wanderer plant in Siegmar played a central role in the group

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