Looking for General Alcazar, Tintin and Captain Haddock ran into their old foe Dawson. Tintin decided to follow Dawson to find out what he was up to and why he was on touch with General Alcazar. In my last post we saw that Tintin followed Dawson – driven in a Jaguar Mark I – in a Panhard Dyna Taxi. The street scene depicted shows a number of vehicles which were very popular in post was Europe of the early fifties. It shows a Hanomag Tempo Matador van, the subject of my last post, a Simca Vedette/ Versailles, and, a Tempo Hanseat.
The Tempo Hanseat was developed as a cheap transport for small business men and farmers of post war Germany, an economy that had been devastated by war and split in the middle by the post war rivalry between the war allies; USA, UK and France on one side and USSR on the other. At this time, a no frills transport was required which was cheap to buy and run and did all the jobs required of it in an efficient manner. Speed was not of essence as the vehicle was mainly replacing the Horse and carriage arrangement.
The Hanseat was an evolution of a machine that was initially a three wheeled motorcycle with a small load bay in the front. With time, the load bay shifted to the back, but the three wheeled arrangement stayed. Though they were mainly offered and used as pick ups, but few examples of panel vans were also built. And finally, a large, in fact, very large number of them ended up ferrying people through their daily rigmarole in a warm and dusty country side thousands of kilometers away from the pristine countryside of its homeland, Germany.
The Hanseat was manufactured by the Bajaj- Tempo, a Firodia’s company in India till, well, 2000, a full 50 years after the vehicle was introduced in Germany. Though built as a load carrier, they were soon modified with benches in the rear and a tin roof to protect its occupants from the elements. You can still see some of these run as taxis in 2016 in rural India. For reasons unknown to me, they were particularly popular in two states of India, Uttar Pradesh (translated as Northern State) and Madhya Pradesh (translated as Central State). Here, they could see them ferrying people not only in rural areas but also in the capital cities of Lucknow and Bhopal. Because of the snout of a engine bay that these Hanseats had, they were popularly know as “Soonwars” (pigs). Hearing a sentence like, “mod par se soonwar le liyo, station utaar dega” (take a pig from the corner, it will drop you at the station) was not uncommon in these areas.
The Hanseat was offered with an inline two cylinder 396 cc, two stroke engine. The engine had reverse scavenging and produced 15 BHP at 4,500 rpm. The power was transmitted through a 4 speed gear box to the front wheel through a chain drive arrangement. A 200 cc engine was also offered to allow younger drivers holding a German Class IV license to drive the pick ups. In India, a number of these petrol engines were replaced by diesel engines from, of all things, irrigation pumps. As a result, these engine had no starting motor and the engine was started by coiling a rope around the starting pulley and pulling it to rev the engine. All taxi drivers in rural India could be seen carrying a rope in place of an ignition key.
The gear change had a conventional H arrangement but the H was formed across the fore and aft line and not along it, as is the convention. As a result, one had to pull the gear lever all the way out and turn it right to engage reverse. Turn the handle to center, push it in a bit and turn right to engage first, turn left to engage second, again center, push in full and right to engage third and a final left turn to engage fourth. Stopping power was provided by “perrot” duplex braking system which allowed for safe and smooth braking. It was operated as a hand brake on all three wheels. The brakes were activated by cables running through protective cases to the wheels.
Front suspension comprised a special design from Tempo which had a coil spring and telescopic shock absorbers.The rear axles had independent suspension with oscillating tube axles. They were connected to the main frame by a central bolt and two spiral spring shock absorbers. This arrangement provided for excellent suspension at load. These vehicles were designed to carry 500 Kg or 1100 lbs of load.
The Hanseat also holds five world endurance records for the “open delivery truck under 200cc class”. The record was made in 1934 at the Avus high-speed track in Berlin at an average speed of 54.1 km/h (33 mph).