One of the advertisement posters from the late 50's says “Von de Alpen bis zur Nordsee...”. In German, this means ‘from the Alps to the North Sea’. Though 3 dots were added to convey “other places” what the poster designer didn’t know during that time, was that the tag line should have ended with the word Indien (India, in German). Literally.
Vidal + Sohn, this name never strikes us, but mention Tempo HANSEAT and the name conjures up memories that take us back in to the 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s when they were all over, be the delivery truck at the ‘mandi’ (local trading hub for agricultural produce) or as town taxis.
It all began in 1928 when the German government removed taxes for all vehicles that did not have 4 wheels and had less than 350cc capacity engine. Steps in, the coal merchant from Hamburg Mr. Max Vidal and his son Oscar Vidal (see photo) who decide to diversify in to making of 3 wheelers.
They form the company Vidal & Sohn Tempo-Werke GmbH and start making them. They were absolute disasters. Customers complained about their T1 (water-cooled engine) and T2 (air-cooled engine) models, that were copies of their competitors and were outsourced.
The very next year, they hire a technical designer from one of their competitors. Otto Haus is made the Chief Engineer and given the task to design a frugal, but a durable vehicle. Otto Haus designs the T6 with a 200cc engine and by 1930 nearly 3000 of them get sold. Then he makes the T10 and few others.
1n 1933, Tempo’s competitor designed a vehicle that had an enclosed cab for the driver with the engine in the front and the loading area at the back. Tempo, immediately launches an equivalent called the Tempo Front 6. Its engine was mounted on top of the front wheel axle and came in 2 variants, 200cc and 400cc. Further development resulted in the making of the HANSEAT that turned up to become not just Hamburg city’s biggest blockbuster, but Germany’s.
This was Tempo’s best-selling products and at one point its demand outstripped the factory’s production capacity. This model played a significant role in development of post-war Germany.
Production of the Tempo Hanseat in India, began in 1958 by Firodia Tempo (later renamed as Bajaj Tempo Ltd.) at their factory in Goregaon, Mumbai. The Plant shifted to Akurdi (near Pune) in 1964 and were made there until the year 2000. Although, now discarded, they are still being used as a mode of transportation to ferry people and goods in rural areas.
Do you want to hitch a ride on a Tempo HANSEAT? Well, go to Punjab or Haryana, pay just Rs.5 (7 cents) and enjoy the ride even after 80 years. Yes, on this immortal 3 wheeler.