Ex-Racers Hope to Revive MZ Brand

Publish Date: 
Mar 24, 2009

Former Grand Prix racers Martin Wimmer and Ralf Waldmann are reportedly in negotiations to revive the MZ brand.

Wimmer and Waldmann, in an interview with Germany’s MOTORRAD magazine, say they are in discussions with Malaysia’s Hong Leong Group for the trademarks and worldwide rights to the brand that was shuttered in 2008. They say a formal contract could come as soon as next week.

The two ex-racers say that, despite the current global economic crisis, they’re prepared to make the investment. They say strategies to revive production are already in place and awaiting a resolution to the purchase negotiations.

Since the old factory in Germany is now a nightclub, called MZWerk, Wimmer and Waldmann reportedly plan to tap a Chinese firm to produce the bikes for their new operation.

MZ, operated officially as MZ Motorrad- und Zweiradwerk GmbH, was a motorcycle manufacturer based in Zschopau, Germany.

MZ was born in 1922 as part of the DKW company (once the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world). The operation continued through World War II, became a state-owned enterprise of the former East Germany in 1948, privatized in 1990, filed bankruptcy in 1993, and was bought by the Hong Leong Group in 1996. Production of all MZ motorcycles ceased in June 2008, and the company officially ended operations in December 2008.

MZs were ridden to 13 GP victories between 1955 and 1976, and won the International Six Days Trial in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969 and 1987.

In its final years, MZ offered a line of Enduro/DualPurpose/Motard bikes powered by a Yamaha-built 660cc single; scooters; and the 1000S sport, 1000SF naked and 1000ST sport-tourer, all of which featured a 113hp 1000cc, DOHC parallel twin designed and built by MZ.

Florida-based Motorrad of North America served as the U.S. importer and distributor of MZ product. The company served approximately 340 retailers in the U.S.

- Submitted by Guido Ebert