The Forgotten Boxer: The Condor A580
This Is The Condor A580 – Not A BMW, Not A Ural, And Not A Zundapp
Since the internet is full of boxer based buzzing due to the Mayweather versus Pacquiao match this weekend, why not join the conversation too? Granted, you won’t find this rare breed in the ring but whatever happened to the old Condor A580, Switzerland’s answer to the BMW R71 or Zundapp KS600?
Made In Switzerland: The Condor A580
Condor-Werke AG are an obscure marque at best; the latter half of the 20th century wasn’t particularly kind to the Swiss company, leaving many of their beautifully engineered machines confined to the pages of military history or rotting away in garages. Luckily, this A580 has been lovingly restored by an anonymous collector after spending a decade in the Swiss military and a further forty years in storage.
This particular model was originally built back in 1953 but the A580 enjoyed a ten year production run between 1948 and 1958. Condor had been making motorcycles since 1893 before they closed their doors to motorcycle production in 1978, they continued to manufacturer bicycles until 1995 but ’78 marked the end of the factory’s engine era. That’s why you may not have heard of Condor before.
The A580 is particularly special because of it’s striking resemblance to everything associated with a vintage boxer BMW. During World War II, Switzerland wanted a bike of their own to rival that of the German troops and this was their answer. Originally drawn up in 1944 by Condor, the A580 has taken more than few cues from their German neighbors: it’s engineered to perfection, as reliable as sin and of course, it’s a shaft driven boxer. Take a closer look at the front forks, rear plunger suspension, hydraulic valve lifters and aluminum cylinder heads and you’d be a fool not to see the similarities! One of the major differences though, was the price. Back in the day, you’d have to fork out quite a bit more for a Condor over a BMW…
Another quirky difference is the gear ratio lever. The Condor is an eight geared behemoth with four for the road and a further four for harder terrain; the lever switches between the ratios to provide the best control for the job. It’s unusual, but practical.
Not only is the A580 a rare model but this one has been given the restoration treatment but with a few artistic touches. The military drab paintwork has been replaced with a vibrant red scheme reminiscent of Condor’s civilian models, the casings have been lovingly restored and returned to their original, factory quality too. Even the tires have been replaced with Metzeler Block C treads, which is the true mark of a quality and attentive restoration. The best features of this project though, are the engine covers – they’ve been left with their original rough finish and haven’t seen a touch of polish. This old soldier still wears it’s old war wounds and wears them well too.
If you’re looking to buy a classic motorcycle then why not start your search with some of the obscurer marques? You never know what might turn up. If you’re lucky, you may very well stumble on something as exquisite as this.