Last Call: Dutch Treat Edition


The Van Veen OCR 1000 was the Wankel-powered dream of Dutch motorcycle magnate Hendrik Van Veen. The OCR (“Oil Cooled Rotor”) used a repurposed Comotor rotary automotive engine, most famously used in the NSU R080.  NSU and Citroën pulled the plug on their joint rotary project after delivering only 50 engines to Van Veen, though the marketability of the Van Veen was questionable anyway. The engine made it massive, thirsty and somewhat fragile, though most damning was the cost—roughly the same as a new Mercedes 350SL roadster at the time. A total of thirty-eight OCRs were built between 1976–1981, with ten additional “continuation” examples being built from existing factory spares within the last few years. The Van Veen was ultimately a marketing failure, but certainly not an aesthetic one. The high grade of finish on the components is remarkable for such a small production run, and despite some awkward compromises such as the pizza-box-sized radiator, the Van Veen manages to simultaneously be history’s best looking rotary bike and best looking car-engined bike.
Last Call indicates the end of Hooniverse’s broadcast day. It’s meant to be an open forum for anyone and anything. Thread jacking is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.
 

12 Comments

  1. That’s just lovely! The tank & seat could have come from a contemporary Guzzi, and those Lester(ish?) mags help seal the deal for me.

    1. Evidently it’s a Moto Guzzi frame.
      -John B. Hege, “The Wankel Rotary Engine: A History”, McFarland 2015

  2. Another in a long line of, “Yes, I realize that you CAN do that, but really, SHOULD you?” vehicles.

  3. The other rotary powered bikes were DKWs, Nortons, and Suzuki’s ’74-’76 Guigiaro designed RE5. The styling was toned down for the Mk2 version shown in the German brochure, the instruments were changed for the same ones as the GT750 twostroke. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_RE5
    https://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/Gallery%20C/Suzuki%20RE5%20Rotary%20%202.jpg
    The early ‘pure’ versions had a tranverse cylinder containing the instruments
    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/2RZ3JbJaVdc/maxresdefault.jpg
    https://bike-lineage.org/etc/bike-trivia/img/re-5.jpg
    The DKW Hercules was the ancestor of the Nortons, with it’s single rotor Fichtel & Sachs fan-cooled engine.
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e7/DKW_Wankel_2000.JPG/1280px-DKW_Wankel_2000.JPG
    The Norton classic used a twin rotor version of that engine developed by David Garside at BSA
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1a/MyPicClassic.jpg
    That was further developed into the Norton Commander which with it’s integrated panniers and Yamaha front end, (wheels/fork off XJ900) was used by UK police.
    https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2484/3740562892_bfd65f5633_b.jpg
    https://www.nortonownersclub.org/models/rotary/norton-models-rotary-large-images/commander3.jpg
    That motor was further developed into the ’92 Norton F1
    https://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/Gallery%20%20A/Norton%20F1%2091%20%204.jpg
    https://www.nortonownersclub.org/models/rotary/norton-models-rotary-large-images/f11.jpg
    https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/uploads/cars/norton/5768768.jpg
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/59/Norton_F1.jpg/1280px-Norton_F1.jpg
    The rotary thus developed evolved into the Midwest AE series aero engine, still in production today. Used in a variety of light aircraft including Schleicher powered gliders with their foldaway propellors and used in some military drones.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MidWest_AE_series#Design_and_development
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9e/Schleicher_ASH_26E_sailplane_2.jpg/1280px-Schleicher_ASH_26E_sailplane_2.jpg
    A much more successful development story than the NSU/Comotor one of the VanVeen, RO80, and Citroen, and rivalling Mazda’s rotary. All more successful than Suzuki’s one-off dead end.

    1. The DKW (made by Hercules, using a Fichtel & Sachs motor) and Suzuki were single-rotor engines, whereas the Norton and Van Veen were twin rotors, with the Norton being the only twin-rotor wankel engine developed specifically for a motorcycle.

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