Aero Minor II – History of the progressive car

Minor II was created during WWII in Zbrojovka by František Janeček (Jawa), who did not stop developing products for post-war production during the German occupation, but in great secrecy, because the actors were threatened with the death penalty if they were revealed. But there were still people who wanted to do something big. The original “perak”, the new Jawa 250, which was launched just after the war, has become a prototype of a modern motorcycle of this class for enthusiasts around the world. However, the same fate was not met by the work of Rudolf Vykoukal of the “smart house” Jawa in Pankrác, although the Minor II passenger car had already been completed during the war (five prototypes were created), but Jawa did not receive a permit for mass production. After nationalization, only motorcycles were allocated to it …

Photo: Tomáš Hyan

Minor II export cars (without tires!) On a transporter before a world tour

The rescue came in the form of a competing Aero Pony car (sometimes also spelled Ponny), also developed during the war, for which the Vysočany Aero aircraft factory in Prague already had preliminary orders. Also in this case it was not allowed to start production, but the agreement on exports by the thousands had to be fulfilled (the need for foreign exchange helped here), so officials decided to produce Minor II in other aircraft factories and rename the car from Jawa Minor to Aero Minor.

Minor II is finally leaving

After nationalization, state officials transferred production of Minor II to the newly merged national company Letecké závody Praha. The production of the bodies according to the design of Zdeněk Kejval and the final assembly were supplied by the Rudý Letov (formerly Letov) factory in Letňany, the complete chassis with the drive system was supplied by Motorlet (formerly Walter) from Jinonice in Prague.

From today’s perspective, the Minor II was ahead of its time, seemingly more modern than the Aero Pony, given a more spacious body of more mature shapes with better use of enclosed space. It was a liquid-cooled inline-twin with a capacity of 616 cubic centimeters (bore x stroke 70 × 80 mm), which originated from a Jawa Minor I, and propelled the front wheels via a gearbox. four-speed with a lever in the dashboard to the right under the steering wheel. The third gear was straight, the fourth overdrive (0.8).

Photo: Tomáš Hyan

Manufacturing of Aero Minor II cars prior to shipment from the Rudý Letov factory in Letňany, Prague

The car had a square section frame, forked at the front for the power unit, all wheels were independently suspended, at the front on a pair of cross arms, and at the rear on pulled swing arms, still suspended. with leaf spring, front with telescopic and rear with lever shock absorbers. The steering was already peaking (only 2.36 full steering wheel turns), the fluid brakes had drums with a diameter of 230 mm on all wheels, tires of size 4.75-16 or 5, 00-16.

Timeless design

In a way, the shapes of the steel bodywork with hardwood braces are modern today, only the accentuated fenders protrude from the undisturbed pontoon of the body. The bow mask and windshield are arrow-shaped, with the stern merging perfectly. The shapes were designed by the experienced Zdeněk Kejval, responsible for the construction of prototypes at the body shop Jawa Kvasina (now Škoda Auto). The base type was a two-door closed Tudor with overall dimensions of 4,040 × 1,420 × 1,460mm, the chassis had a wheelbase of 2300mm and a wheelbase of 1120mm front and rear. back. The luggage compartment in the rear was accessible through a hinged lid, its volume was about 250 liters. Even more spacious was the station wagon (Station Wagon), also produced in an attractive Woody finish (surface wood slats), there were also delivery types (Panel Van).

However, the two-seater roadster has become the queen of beauty. The complete chassis weighed 375 kg, the whole car 690 kg and carried 320 kg (tudor), the stationary payload increased to 450 kg. The car reached a top speed of over 90 km / h (permanently recommended 75 km / h) and consumed 7 to 8 liters of two-stroke mixture (gasoline with oil in a ratio of 1:25 to 1:30). The fuel tank had a volume of 25 liters.

Success Stopped

In 1946 sixty pre-production cars were produced, in 1947 there were 1,400 production cars and in 1948 there was a record 4,430, mostly for export for foreign currency. Apart from Europe, where the greatest consumption was made up of the Benelux countries, Austria, Switzerland and France, a lower number of trips abroad (Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina). The simple and reliable construction was tested by the voyages of Rudolf Vykoukal in Western Europe, but also by the famous expedition of František A. Elstner from Prague across the Sahara to the Gulf of Guinea and back (1947), described in the book by Elstner Hunters of Miles.

Series miners took part in major automobile competitions and won in their category, special circuits derived from Aero Minor Sport with an open cigar body were created for circuit racing, the greatest success of which is second place in the Otto Krattner / František Sutnar crew in the 1949 Le Mans classification The two riders also raced the 1949 Monte-Carlo Rally together before the Czechoslovak Communists forbade them to travel further and imprison them for their alleged currency leak .

The hysteria of the Cold War was also a picture of the time. Air races switched to weapons production, and the Minor II came to an end (by early 1951 14,187 cars had been built). Foreign importers and other interested parties (e.g. British motorcycle factory BSA) were interested in resuming production or purchasing a license, the demand came in 1956 from Egypt (so they chose the German NSU as Ramses). Another Minor III prototype was created under Vykoukal’s leadership with a front-wheel-drive 1.2-liter flat-four and larger three-compartment sedan body. However, the Czechoslovak Communists decided that only Mladá Boleslav (Škoda) would produce passenger cars in our country.

Winston Ferguson

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