STOEWER BROTHERS 1899 - 1916
Having been given control over the company now bearing the name Stoewer Brothers, Emil (just 23 years) assumed responsibility for commercial matters and Bernhard Jnr (aged 21) for technical design. For 12 months they had been working hard on the development of their first, fully in-house manufactured vehicle. By May 1899 they had assembled a small test car fitted with a single cylinder engine and this was put on display at the "First International Motorcar Exhibition" held in Berlin between 3rd and 28th September 1899. The Stoewer Brothers exhibit at this Exhibition was a significant success with their display being awarded the Silver Medal. Their presentation included an elegant petrol-engined motorboat, motor tricycles with and without trailer and their prototype 4-wheel motorcar.
With experience gained from their prototype, their first production car was prepared for release later in 1899. This had a twin-cylinder, rear-mounted petrol engine of 2,100 cc capacity developing 6.5 HP and having a top speed of 17 kph. This car had an out-dated appearance typical of cars from the 1890's but its production was a significant achievement. The very first car produced by the Stoewer Brothers has survived and is now on display in the Moscow Polytechnic Museum.
In parallel with the production of their first petrol engined motor car, the Stoewer brothers built their first electric car. They recognised that an electric car would be quieter, more reliable and less polluting than a petrol engined car. Between 1899 and 1905 they continued to develop electric cars and established a reputation for supplying high quality, luxury cars for personal transport as well as vehicles for industrial application. The industrial vehicles included ambulances, taxis, buses, vans, lorries and fire-fighting vehicles. During these early years approximately half of Stoewer production was electric vehicles and it is little wonder that they were considered a leading manufacturer of such products.
While appreciating the virtues of electric vehicles, development continued with petrol engines. In 1901 Stoewer Brothers released their new model and this was of the very latest in design with a water-cooled, front mounted, in-line 2-cylinder engine of 1.5 litre capacity with chain drive to the rear wheels. In 1903 this was superseded by a model with a 7,500 cc in-line 4-cylinder engine and in 1904 by one with an 8,000 cc, 4-cylinder engine. As early as 1900 Stoewer had built their first passenger bus and motor lorry using first electric motors and then small, 8 and 10 HP petrol engines. By 1904 they were recognised as a major supplier of passenger buses. In 1905 chain drive was replaced with shaft drive in the model P2 (with 2-cylinder, 16 HP, 2,281 cc engine) and P4 (with 4-cylinder, 20 HP 3,054 cc engine) although the model P4I (4-cylinder, 40 HP, 5,881 cc engine) retained chain drive. Also in 1905 Stoewer introduced passenger buses with 4,600 cc and 5,900 cc, 4-cylinder engines. A most important event in the early establishment of this young company was the winning of an order in 1906 to supply 200, double-decker buses with 4,600 cc engines to the county of London.
By 1905 the development of the 4-cylinder petrol engine was sufficiently advanced that the manufacture of electric vehicles was discontinued. 1906 also saw the introduction of the first car in Germany to have a 6-cylinder engine. This had a capacity of 8,800 cc and was designed with four main crankshaft bearings. The model P6 fitted with this 50 HP engine was an effortless and smooth luxury car having a top speed of 100 kph. One of these cars was purchased by the Prussian Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Prior to 1908 the maximum number of cars built of any model was about 40. In 1908 Stoewer introduced their very successful model G4 which had a small, 1,550 cc, 4-cylinder engine. By the time it was superseded in 1910 they had sold 1,070 of this model including 200 that were supplied as chassis-only to the NAG automobile company of Berlin. When bodied and fitted with a NAG radiator these were sold as the NAG Puck.
Between 1908 and the outset of the Great War, Stoewer innovation was very productive and some ten new models were introduced, each with some variation or improvement to design. During this period approximately one half of Stoewer production was exported, no doubt facilitated by access to Stettin's Baltic Sea port. Production numbers were always relatively small with some models limited to less than 100 cars while the highest production after the G4 was just 800. It seems that the Stoewer brothers were driven by the search for perfection rather than the search for profit as was more typical of the American car industry at this time.
The models introduced during this period of expansion and innovation were the PK4 in 1909 having a 4-cylinder, 18 HP 2,545 cc engine, (just 30 were made) the LT4 in 1910 having a 4-cylinder, 16 HP engine of 1,556 cc capacity (140 were made) and then in 1911 the 4-cylinder B series were released. The B1 had a 16 HP engine of 1,566 cc capacity (450 were made) and the B2 had a larger 22 HP engine of 2,225 cc capacity (300 were made, of which some were sold without radiator or hubcaps to Mathis in Strasbourg to then be badged as Mathis-Stoewer). In 1912 the 4-cylinder B4 and B5 were produced having engines of 4,942 cc capacity developing 45 HP and 1,555 cc capacity developing 18 HP respectively. Just 80 B4's and approximately 500 B5's were produced. 1913 saw the release of the 4-cylinder C series in which the gear drive to the camshaft was replaced with a "silent-chain" drive. 800 C1's were made having 18 HP, 1,555 cc engines, approximately 470 C2's were made with 28 HP, 2,413 cc engines.
In 1911/12 Stoewer employed Russian emigrant Boris Loutzkoy to develop an aircraft engine. This engine had four-cylinders, was of 8,600 cc capacity and had overhead camshaft with hemispherical combustion chambers. It developed 100 HP. Stoewer fitted this engine to their F4 touring car of 1912 giving it a top speed of 120 kph. Only five F4 cars were built. In 1912 Stoewer built a 6-cylinder version of the Loutzkoy engine but this never went into commercial production. However, it is likely that it was one of these engines that was used early in 1912 when it has been claimed, German pilot H. Hirt establish an air speed "record" of 160 kph. Details of this record are unclear and the flight is not included in the recognised list of world air-speed records which show Frenchman Jules Védrines reaching 162 kph on 22nd February, 1912.
With the onset of war in 1914, production became focussed upon supplying military authorities with trucks and speciality vehicles such as ambulances, field postal vans, telegraph vans and rail cars. In 1916, the Stoewer brothers decided to change the company structure into a joint stock company rather than to carry a full personal risk.
Bernhard Stoewer Emil Stoewer
Stoewer Brothers product display at the first International Motorcar Exhibition, Berlin, 1899.
In 1906 Stoewer Brothers introduced a radiator badge to brand their cars
In 1910 Stoewer updated their radiator badge