The Victoria Ventures
With a name like Victoria, you would imagine a fine British marque or perhaps an Australian one. Certainly the product of an english-speaking country. However, this Victoria was a German marque that began like so many others in the 1880s as a bicycle manufacturer. Like so many others, they turned to Motorcycles in 1901 and began production in Nurnberg. Like so many others, they tried their hand at automobiles as well. In the case of Victoria, things did not work out well on the automobile front, but motorcycles came into their own in the early 1920s. Their first success was a 500cc BMW-engined model (remember, BMW was an engine supplier before they produced their own motorcycles). Victoria went on to use other engines, until they designed their own in 1923 with the help of former BMW engine designer Walter Stolle. Not surprisingly, the layout was an air-cooled twin which later evolved into a narrow V-Twin mounted transversely in similar fashion to Moto Guzzi.
In 1925, Victoria produced a 500cc racing version with a Rootes blower. Remember, this is long before the famous BMW Kompressors. The bike won races both solo and with sidecar. Unlike so many others, Victoria continued to have a mix of its own engines, and those of other engine0makers such as Sachs and Horex. In the early 1930s, Victoria produced a heavily faired motorcycle as a bid for a military contract. They lost out on the big contract to BMW and Zundapp due to a very small gas tank. However, it was a ground-breaking motorcycle, building on the design approach of MARS in the 1920s (see Discovering Mars), and the idea was picked up again a few decades later when fairing came into vogue.
Like so many others, Victoria was mostly destroyed in WWII, and emerged afterward to produce small motorcycles and bicycle engines which were very popular. In the early 1950s they expanded models to inclue 100, 125, and 250cc machines In 1964, they produced the 4 stroke OHV Bergmeister (mountain master). This would have been a popular model, but it was plagued by engine vibration issues which took some time to sort out resulting in a lengthy period to recoup the initial investment. This created some financial struggles for Victoria despite their popularity among smaller displacement models. For example, in 1956 they produced a Parilla-engined 175cc model which was ridden to a land speed record by Georg Dotterweich. Like so many others, the market malaise of the late 1950s and the growing availability of cars took its toll on Victoria, and they were forced to merge along with DKW (see DKW 350) into Zweirad-Union in 1958. The brand finally disappeared in 1966.