Classic Commercials: 1955 Tempo Wiking on Ebay
Posted on 23 June 2016
When I stumbled across this 1955 Tempo Wiking this morning, I spat my coffee all over my computer, exclaiming "YAS QUEEN!" as a 1950s Tempo truck is one of my dream cars. And let me tell you, nice examples are extremely rare and never really come up for sale. I would wager that there are far more nice Aston Martin DB5s out there. Utterly useless on American streets, these trucks are impossible to find in North America. The few that made it over the Atlantic are rare as hens teeth as very few people in their right mind would have imported a strange, underpowered German lorry at a cost that I'm sure would have been more than a brand new $1,400 Chevy pickup. Plus, there is the issue of there being zero parts for it on the continent. It seems that every few years someone I follow will stumble across a derelict Morris J Van or some other European curiosity that snuck its way over the ocean, but aside from VW Buses, European commercial vehicles all pretty much ended up abandoned and rotting due to a lack of parts availability or knowledge to work on them. It's easy to forget that before the internet, if your Citroen van spun a bearing, there was almost nothing you could do aside from head to France to get the parts to rebuild the engine.
That being said, chances of survival in Europe weren't great either. The continent had just been racked by war less than a decade before this truck was made, and sturdy, cheap, work vehicles were a hot commodity. Citroen's waiting list for a 2CV stretched to 5 years at one point and sales of the Volkswagen Microbus spiraled upwards. Those who could get their hands on a car typically used it up, driving them until their wheels fell off. It didn't help that much of Northwestern Europe is less a rust belt and more a total rust fiesta. Cars left outside in Germany or Sweden basically turn to dust as you look at them. Later on, most European countries imposed strict regulations on road-going vehicles, disqualifying anything from registration if it showed any signs of structural rust or tired out mechanical components. Many of Europe's automotive gems ended up getting scrapped for these reasons long before they were collectable. The United State's lax regulations pertaining to the safety of old cars and descent climate in its western half are reasons why there are no shortage of yawn-inducing 1957 Chevys burning up precious petrol that could go in my VW bus.
Tempo Wiking's were not made in huge quantities during the 1950s. Their initial power plant was a 25 HP air cooled unit purchased from Volkswagen, but once VW started producing the Bus they decided to pull the rug out from under Tempo as they viewed their trucks as competition and stopped selling them engines. Tempo was forced to use mediocre engines supplied by Austin of Great Britton, not a good call. Tempo quickly lost ground to their competition as their power plant was compromised, and they were unable to scale up quickly enough. By the early 70s, Tempo had partnered with Hanomag and was purchased by Daimler Binz. Tempo continued on making vans for the Daimler Binz until 1977, but all vehicles were badged as other brands. One of Tempo's more curious vehicles, the Hanseat Three Wheeler, did however live on for a while as Force Motors India had partnered with Tempo to make vehicles. Force was still making Tempo badged cars until quite recently.
It's somewhat amazing when one of these little trucks escaped the scrap yard through the decades. This one is particularly stunning as it still wears its original paint and is said to run "like a rolex", which is saying a lot for its crappy little Austin engine. How this little guy escaped the axe beats me, but I sure wouldn't mind it parked in my garage, even if it would be a white knuckling experience navigating such a rare and slow vehicle across Portland.
This vehicle is listed on Ebay with an auction ending on the 28th of this month. It is located in Ludwigshafen, Germany.