In 1965 Freidl Münch, formerly with the Horex racing department, was approached by wealthy French ex-sidecar racer Jean Murit with a simple brief: build a no-expense-spared ‘superbike’, though the latter term had yet to be coined. Münch found his ideal engine in the form of the air-cooled overhead-camshaft four powering the recently introduced NSU Prinz car.
For Murit’s machine he used the 1,000cc TT sports version of this engine which, tuned for 60bhp, proved capable of propelling the bulky Mammoth to a top speed of 120mph. Nothing too remarkable there you might think, but while several contemporary production motorcycles could achieve a similar maximum, it was the Mammoth’s ability to accelerate powerfully from 20mph in top gear and cruise all day at 110mph that set it apart from the herd.
The engine was housed in a cradle frame inspired by the Manx Norton, and to keep the weight down Münch made extensive use of Elektron magnesium alloy, which was used for the gearbox shell, rear chain case, fork sliders, and brakes. The result was a commendably low dry weight for the prototype of 433lbs, though production versions would weigh considerably more. Elephant Rally founder and Das Motorrad journalist Ernst Leverkus rode the bike in 1966, and the resulting worldwide publicity provoked a rush of orders. The production Mammoth (the name would later be dropped for copyright reasons) first appeared at the Cologne Show in September 1966, by which time the capacity had risen to 1,085cc, power to 70bhp and the top speed close on 140mph. Hand built to individual customer order, the Mammoth eventually used the 1,177cc version of the NSU four with power outputs of up to 104bhp.
Founder of Cycle magazine and publisher of the eponymous motorcycle manuals, American entrepreneur Floyd Clymer (1895-1970) invested in Münch, marketing the machine in the USA as the ‘Clymer-Münch Mammoth’ with the slogan: ‘Built up to a standard, not down to a price’. And the hand-built Mammoth was certainly very expensive, selling in the USA for $3,995 when the BMW R69S cost only $1,695. It is estimated that some 500 Mammoths had been made when production ceased in 1975.
The machine offered here was built for the American market and exported new to New Jersey. Miklos bought this Mammoth in November 2014 from Fuchs Motorrad of Osnabrück, Germany.
Fuchs’ letter on file states that it is one of 150 built as a ‘Clymer-Münch’ before Clymer’s death. This letter also states that the machine had been completely restored using only original parts, was ‘like a new one’ and has ‘the highest quality standards’. Additional documentation consists of a copy of the previous German registration document, HMR&C correspondence, SORN paperwork, V5C Registration Certificates, sundry servicing and parts bills, and two MoTs (most recent expires 6th November 2018).
Report by bonhams.com