Heinkel Restorations- Scooters vs. Cars

Heinkel Cars, Kabines, and Cabin Scooters
Scooters vs. Cars- How Hard to Restore?

There have been a few Heinkel car projects on eBay recently, and several people have asked me how hard it is to restore a microcar compared to a scooter or motorcycle.  I decided to restore a Heinkel car because I’d had a satisfying experience restoring my Heinkel Tourist scooter.  Compared to restoring Vespas and Lambrettas, and I found the Heinkel to be a much more orderly and satisfying process.  Maybe it was that I was just that much more experienced, or that the clubs offered excellent parts availability and efficient (though expensive) delivery options. Just by looking at a car anyone would know it would take longer than a scooter to restore, but how much longer?  I estimated with my higher level of experience, parts network, and council of Heinkel experts it would probably take twice as long as a scooter.

Here’s how Heinkel cars and scooters compare to each other:
  • Engines: About the same effort. The engines are basically the same, and you can use the same specialized tools (but you can’t swap many of the parts).
  • Electrical System: The parts and wiring are virtually identical to the 103 series scooters, with a couple of minor exceptions. The regulator tabs are different (car regulators have downward facing tabs, scooters have horizontally-oriented tabs).
  • Fuel system (carb and gas tank): These are basically the same as well. Many cars have Pallas carbs, and replacement wear parts are not available new.

Where they are much different:
  • Steering: The car has rack and pinion steering ; the scooter has a simple fork and handlebar setup. Aside from the fact that there are more parts (like rubber boots), the steering restoration is fairly straightforward.
  • Hydraulic brakes: The scooter and car share the same rear brake setup, plus the addition of a hydraulic setup. Rebuilding the master cylinder can take a fair amount of time. Parts are available from the English Club (the German club does not sell them). Setting up and adjusting the brakes will also take much longer.
  • Windows: The scooter doesn’t have windows to polish, cut and install.  Scratch removal and polishing will take quite a while, and help from a few assistants. Purchasing new windows is an option, but shipping to the US is very expensive (batch all of your big items when you make an order).
  • Upholstery: There are two seats that are complicated to say the least. Another area where the time far exceeds scooters.
  • Interior: By definition, the scooter doesn’t have an interior.  You’ll spend a lot of time on this as well.
  • Suspension : This area is a huge time sink. Dismantling the suspension is hard work. Scooter suspension parts can be acquired new; some of them, like kingpins and roller bearing sets, are expensive. The cost and effort far exceeds any part of a scooter.  Some of the parts, such as front shocks, cannot be acquired new and must be rebuilt.  
  • Bodywork: Repair and paint is expensive for both. If your car has rot, be prepared for incredibly expensive bills unless you can do the work yourself. Bodywork alone for a concours-quality job on a car with rotten floors could easily exceed $10,000. Floor parts are available in England, but will cost as much to ship the US as they cost to purchase (and you may have to arrange for the shipping yourself!).

So, when you add it up, how much harder is it to restore a car than a scooter? I’d say 5 or 6 times the effort, with costs in line with your time. Don’t be discouraged though; how many people have a Heinkel car (or a scooter)?
This Article is © 2012-2014 Heinkel Cars, Kabines, and Cabin Scooters. All Rights Reserved.