Bike of the Month
1955 Zundapp DB255 Elastic
By Rodd Lighthouse
Late last year or earlier this year, club member Jim Meadows informed me of some motorcycles that may be available for sale in the near future, including a 1935 VL Harley-Davidson and some British bikes. Being a H-D flathead and British bike fan, I was looking forward to seeing what might turn up.
Jim claims to be an Indian guy, but in early January, Jim contacted the owner and made arrangements to check out the bikes without me. I am sure that if he had not been popping off about how great Indians are for the past 40 plus years, he would have tried to finagle the VL. He knew that he would have had to take excessive abuse if he were to purchase the H-D, so he gave me the opportunity to try to strike a deal. In addition to the H-D were a unit construction 500 and 650 Triumph, a Honda CT 110, a late 60’s Yamaha Enduro, and a rusty two-smoke Zundapp that was missing a seat and tank.
To stoke the fire, Jim sent photos of the VL, the machine that interested me the most. After several weeks of trying to make arrangements to see the bikes in person, I was finally able to check them out in March. I must admit that the VL looked better in the photos, but I was still interested. The Triumphs were nice bikes, but I wasn’t really looking for a 500 Triumph and the 650 did not make sense to me financially at $15K. I’m not sure why, but the rusty, naked Zundapp caught my eye. Maybe because I had never seen one, or was it that “German engineering”. After some conversation with the owner and learning that there were additional parts at his house, we agreed that we would do some research and make arrangements to check out the parts at his house in the near future.
The near future finally came in late June and Jim and I met at the seller’s residence. Upon arrival the seller indicated that there had been a change in plans regarding the VL. The seller’s uncle wanted to keep it in the family, so it was unavailable. Entering the backyard, there was a modern day 1955 Royal Enfield positioned on the back patio and a shed containing parts off to the side. Rummaging through the parts, I found the seat, tank, side panels and other miscellaneous parts for the Zundapp. Based on my memory and a photo I had of the Zundapp, I felt that there were enough parts to make a complete bike and a deal was struck. I loaded all the parts and we headed off to the storage shed to get the bike.
By the time I got home, I was questioning myself and wondering why I bought the Zundapp, it was a total rust bucket. After about a week of riding around in the back of my truck, I washed the Zundapp and unloaded it. The wash did not do much for it, but the motor cleaned up a bit. Over the next couple of hours, I inventoried the parts and pieced the old Zundapp together. After tinkering with it for a couple of weeks, cleaning the carburetor, testing for spark, installing a battery and fuel line, the Zundapp was ready for testing. Would she run? We were going to find out, and if she did, we were going to ride her to Saturday Coffee on July 25. The morning of July 25 I mixed up some fuel for the two-smoker, fixed a few fuel leaks and kicked her over. Kick one, nothing. Kick two, got kicked back. Kick three, the Zundapp fired up. After a quick run through the gears and adding some air to the tires, I was off to coffee.
It was quite fun showing up to coffee on the rusty Zundapp, and it ran flawlessly. I don’t know much about the history of the machine, but the clock shows that it has 28,500 miles on it. Although it is a total rust bucket, everything works except the lights and the horn. I must admit that I never bought into the German engineering thing, but apparently I was wrong. The Zundapp is a fun little bike. Would I do it all over again? Yes, without hesitation.