These incredible models were built in Germany by Eugene Ziegler, who worked nightly on the machines in his kitchen, often with his wife’s help.  He used period technical drawings to create accurate 1:4.5 scale models, built entirely from scratch. They are prominently housed in the Deutsches Zweirad Museum (Neckarsulm); if you visit, the large glass case housing these gems is the first display one sees on entering the museum.

A factory racing DKW Singing Saw two-stroke triple, campaigned in the 1950s. A fearsome beast! [Paul d’Orléans]
The construction on these models is amazing: the wheels turn, the suspension works, the fuel tank caps come off, and when you squeeze the brake levers, the brakes function via tiny Bowden cables. Many of the complicated parts, like the engines, were cast using wooden patterns.  The tires were modified from ‘O’ rings, the tread being applied using hot knitting needles!

Squeezing the brake lever activates a cable and moves the brake arm. [Paul d’Orléans]
The top machine is a DKW 3-cylinder 500cc two-stroke racer, the ‘Singing Saw’, which was the pinnacle of DKW’s racing development. The brakes and suspension components are mesmerizing in their complexity, in real life and on the model. Ziegler also built two BMW RS54 Rennsports; one with a sidecar, and one solo – the scale can be seen clearly in the photo. They weigh about 5-8lbs each, and have a nice solid heft – the only plastic used is on the tiny PVC cable housing, the windscreens, ignition wires, and seat covers. The factory racing DKW 350 looks like it should hold water in the radiator, and the engine just needs a bit of oil smear and the smell of Castrol R to complete the picture. No, they don’t run!

Peter Kuhn with a Standard racer with 500cc OHC engine. [Paul d’Orléans]
The final photo shows the curator of the museum, Peter Kuhn, who clearly enjoys his job. He’s holding a Standard 500cc OHC racer, which is a little-known German marque outside the continent; note the Harley-Davidson/Brough ‘Castle’ forks; I confess guilt to having once owned a Standard with a lowly 350cc inlet-over-exhaust Swiss MAG engine, purchased solely to rob its Castle forks! (They are reunited now – a happy ending).

A factory pre-war DKW twin-piston supercharged two-stroke racer. [Paul d’Orléans]
Peter, Wolfgang Schneider, and I had a great time manipulating these little bikes, and a few of the big ones too. This excellent museum deserves more attention.

A closer look at the DKW Singing Saw triple, with one forward-facing cylinder. [Paul d’Orléans]
A BMW RS54 Rennsport, the postwar OHC racer that took 2nd Place in the solo World Championships under Walter Zeller. [Paul d’Orléans]
The front brake and leading-link fork of the DKW Singing Saw. [Paul d’Orléans]
The sidecar version of the BMW RS54, which was their killer app: they won 14 World Championships in a row, then 5 more! [Paul d’Orléans]



Paul d’Orléans is the founder of He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.