Puch, an Austrian brand of moped manufactured by the Steyr-Daimler-Puch corporation, is one of the most common brands in the US. It is often lauded for its durability and the availability of performance parts. Some popular models manufactured by the Puch include the Maxi, Newport, and Magnum.
Puch Maxis were imported into Canada under the name Bombardier.
Johann Puch first produced bicycles in 1889 in a small workshop called "Fahrradfabrikation Strauchergasse 18 a" in Graz. Ten years later he founded his company, "Erste Steiermärkische Fahrradfabrik AG" (English: "First Styrian Bicycle AG"). Puch's company became successful through innovation and quality handicraft, rapidly expanding over time. It soon began producing motorcycles and mopeds.
The main production plant, later called "Einser-Werk", was constructed in the south of Graz, in the district of Puntigam. Production of engines was started in 1901 and cars followed in 1904. In 1906 the production of the two-cylinder Puch Voiturette began and in 1909 a Puch car broke the world high-speed record with 130,4 km/h. In 1910, Puch even produced sedans for members of the imperial family. In 1912, the 38 PS (horsepower) Type VIII "Alpenwagen" was developed.
In 1912 Johann Puch went into retirement and became the company's honorary president. In that year the company employed about 1,100 workers and produced 16,000 bicycles and over 300 motorcycles and cars annually. During World War I, Puch became an important vehicle supplier to the Austro-Hungarian Army. However with the collapse of the empire following the War, the market for automobiles shrank and production was discontinued.
In 1923 the double-piston motor was patented.
In 1928 the company merged with Austro-Daimler and became a part of the new Austro-Daimler-Puchwerke. This company in its turn merged in 1934 with Steyr AG to form Steyr-Daimler-Puch. Like all enterprises of its kind, the Puch production plants had to change to arms production during World War II. The existing capacity was insufficient, therefore a second plant was constructed and opened in 1941 in Thondorf, Graz. In the three original assembly halls, luxury vehicles for the American market were produced.
Puch is on Wikipedia's list of companies using slave labour from the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp system. The list of companies using slave labour from the Mauthausen-Gusen camp system was long, and included both national corporations and small, local firms and communities. Some parts of the quarries were converted into a Mauser machine pistol assembly plant. In 1943, an underground factory for the Steyr-Daimler-Puch company was built in Gusen.
In 1949, an assembly cooperation agreement was signed with Fiat in Turin. The 1950s to the mid-1970s saw a sharp increase in production of motorcycles, bicycles and mopeds. Even though Puch was a part of Steyr-Daimler-Puch, it still produced products under its own name, as well as for Steyr-Puch and other companies.
- 1953: Puch presented its motorbikes 125 and 175 SV.
- 1954: The moped MS 50 was launched, which was very successful.
- 1957: The legendary Puch 500 small car came on the market.
- 1958: Production of the Steyr-Puch Haflingers started. 16,657 vehicles are produced in total and exported into 110 countries.
- 1966: Sobiesław Zasada wins the European Rally Championship on a 650 TR II.
- 1969: The most successful Puch product is launched, Puch Maxi moped, 1.8 million of which are built.
- 1970: The cross-country Steyr-Puch vehicle Pinzgauer was launched - production continued until 1999 with over 24,000 built.
- 1973: Production of the Fiat 126, containing a Puch engine, commenced.
- 1975: Harry Everts wins the 250cc Motocross World Championship for Puch.
- 1978: Record-setting year, seeing the production of over 270,000 mopeds and motorcycles as well as 350,000 bicycles.
- 1979: A joint-venture with Mercedes-Benz saw Puch building the engine for the Mercedes-Benz G-Class in Graz.
- 1983: A joint-venture with Volkswagen saw the Volkswagen Type 2 (T3)'s engine being built in Graz.
The late 1950s saw strong sales of the Puch 125cc two-stroke single motorscooters, which had three gears shifted from the left twistgrip. These machines developed a reputation for reliability and were popular for daily commuting, providing good weather protection and ease of use with an electric starter. In this role their moderate performance, with a top speed of around 45mph, was not a problem. Later models had a 150cc engine and foot-operation, giving better performance of 6 hp instead of 5 hp but retaining the three gears.
Puch produced the famous Twingle engine and the Maxi, Puch Newport, and MK mopeds, which were popular from the late 1970s to early 1980s.
In Austria and the Netherlands. Puch mopeds played a big role in the 1960s popular culture.
One of Puch's most well known machines along with the magnum, the Puch Maxi is a moped fitted with a single cylinder, 49cc, two stroke engine. The engine produce 1, 1.5, or 2hp and could propel the rider up to the dizzying speeds of 30mph. Although with modifications, such as racing exhausts and air filters etc, speeds of 45mph or more are within reach.
It was started using the pedals which could be engaged and disengaged from the engine so it could be ridden as a normal bicycle.
This machine was cheap to buy and was very popular amongst people who wanted a small machine to ride easily through the towns.
In the late 1980s, the company was being squeezed out by competition. In 1987 massive restructuring of the company led to the end of the production of two-wheelers in Graz. The company's technical know-how was always better than its marketing and commercial success. The Puch motorcycle company was sold to Piaggio, maker of the Vespa, in 1987 and still produces bikes under the name "Puch". Steyr-Puch, assembler of four wheel drive vehicles and parts, still exists next to the Piaggio division.
The so-called "Einserwerk", the first production plant, shut down in the early 2000s. The historical assembly-hall was declared a protected industrial monument. When Graz became European Capital of Culture in 2003, a Puch museum was opened in one of the former assembly halls .
- Dutch Puch Maxi Community, has a section for International conversation
- Dutch Puch and Tomos discussion board (a lot of members speak English too)
- Puch homepage
- Puch bikes
- Johann-Puch-Museum in Graz
- Puch 500 car
- Puch Klub (Austrian fansite)
- Puch mopeds (Austrian fansite)
- Puch mopeds (Swedish fansite)