Tag Archive: nesselsdorfer


Josef Werndl (1831 – 1889) was an Austrian gunsmith and he took over his father’s business of making small arms and weapons. In 1864 he, along with his brother Franz Werndl , formed Josef Und Franz Werndl & Company to manufacture rifles and small arms for the Austrian Army. The Werndl rifle of 1867 was famous for its function and quality.

In 1894, they expanded in to manufacture of bicycles. The bicycles were sold under the “Steyr” brand name, named after the Austrian town where they were located.

In 1915 , Josef Und Franz Werndl & Co expanded in to development and manufacture of automobiles. They employed the famous automotive engineer  Hans Ledwinka, who quit Nesselsdorfer (Tatra) to join them in designing a new car. The first car , Type II 12/40 HP was launched in 1920. In 1924 , the company was renamed as Steyr-Werke AG.

 A 1925 Steyr Type V car –

Conflict with Steyr management on small car Vs luxury car debate made Hans Ledwinka to quit and rejoin Nesselsdorfer, now Tatra.

In 1929 , Steyr recruited Ferdinand Porsche from DaimlerBenz. However, recession made survival difficult and the company was in trouble. This made Porsche to leave and create his own company as we know today.

In 1934, Steyr merged with Austro-DaimlerPuchwerke to form Steyr-Daimler-Puch. Steyr-Daimler-Puch was one of the largest automobile groups and were present in many fields – trucks, tractors, automobiles, motorcycles and mopeds.

Some of the most famous cars were the 1936 Steyr 50 , commonly known as “Baby” Steyr and 1939 Steyr 220

During the war , Steyr was involved in military production and,  being under Third Reich, used slaves from concentration camps as labour.

In 1967 , they introduced a versatile 4×4 vehicle named Haflinger

Steyr was also manufacturing automobiles under license from Opel, FIAT and Mercedes Benz.

A Mercedes-Benz G Wagon named Puch G

Starting early 1990s , Steyr-Daimler-Puch started selling the individual business of Trucks, Buses, Mopeds , Tractors to various companies and was concentrating on automobile business only

In 1998 , Magna International took majority shares in Steyr-Daimler-Puch and by 2001 it was fully acquired by Magna , renamed as Magna Steyr. Magna Steyr , now deals with Vehicle Engineering and contract manufacturing.

Steyr Logo –


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In 1850, Ignac Schustala (1822 – 1891), a Czech pioneer founded the company Schustala & Co to manufacture horse-drawn coaches and carriages.  In 1891, the company branched out to manufacture rail road cars and the company was renamed as Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau-Fabriksgesellschaft. NW employed Hans Ledwinka and Edmund Rumpler as Engineers , who showed interest in developing an automobile. In 1897 they developed the first  Nesselsdorfer – a Benz-engined car named “Prasident”.

Nesselsdorfer manufactured  series of cars, identifiable by an alphabet – NW-A to NW-U. The most famous being NW-S manufactured between 1913 and 1917. These cars could reach speeds up to 100 Kms/hr.

During the war, NW manufactured trucks and tank engines.  In 1918 , the company was renamed as Koprivincka Vozovka a.s . From 1919 , the cars were badged as TATRA , after the Tatra mountain ranges.

Tatra  cars were known for new and innovative concepts, driven by bright Engineers like Ledwinka, Rumpler  and Ubalacker. Tatra T11 was one of the famous cars with a revolutionary concept of “Back-bone chasis” – a single central tubular structure on to which suspension and power train are mounted. The back-bone chassis structure brings in off-road capability for which Tatra trucks are known for.

Tatra brought in Aerodynamics to cars in the 1930s through Engineer Paul Jaray’s licensed designs – the tear drop shape. Tatra T77 was one example of an aerodynamically optimised car, reported to be with drag co-efficient of 0.245 in a scale model – Later verification in the 1970s in a wind tunnel proved to be in the range of 0.31 – 0.32, a major achievement in those times. However, due to the long tail and an unfavourable F/R weight split, the car was unstable while cornering and prone to skid and rollover. It is mentioned that many German Nazi officers died on these cars.

Fine tuning the design of T77 , Hans Ledwinka designed a revolutionary small car , Tatra  V570 , with the engine in rear and shaped like a Beetle. It is argued that Ferdinand Porsche copied the design elements to design and manufacture the famous VW Beetle.  Tatra sued VW and the case was finally settled in 1961 with VW paying Tatra 3 million Deutsche Marks as compensation.

The original NW logo and the current Tatra logo –

Tatra ceased manufacture of cars in 1999 but continues to produce off-road capable trucks. Indian Army is a user of Tatra trucks