Although it looks a somewhat fragile and experimental vehicle, this German Phänomobil was an extremely successful car, a few thousand being produced between 1907 and 1927.
Various models were available; passenger cars as well as delivery vans. Even the Netherlands had a distributor: Baakman in Assen, which recommended the car ‘for commercial use as well as touring and racing’.
The model on display is a light van that was probably used in the Karlsruhe area. The air-cooled, four-cylinder, 1.5-litre engine proves that the car must have been produced in or around 1912, the year in which these engines were introduced.
The Phänomobil was manufactured by the Phänomen-Werke in the German town of Zittau in the state of Saxony, which later became part of East Germany. In 1927 the firm switched to producing lorries under the name ‘Granit’. The factory was nationalised in 1945.