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Sinsheimer AG - est 1904


Sinsheimer Motoren Aktiengesellschaft - Est. 1904

A Brief History

Sinsheimer Motoren Aktiengesellschaft – more commonly known as Sinsheimer AG, SMA, or just Sinsheimer – is a German automaker founded by the Sinsheimer family in 1904. Originally the company was a coach builder and built bodies on top of the platforms made by other manufacturers. The company breifly dissolved between 1938 and 1945 as the Sinsheimer family had Jewish roots and went into hiding during the Nazi Third Reich.

After World War II, in the face of a pulverized economy, Sinsheimer helped take up the torch of reinvigorating Germany and Europe’s automotive industry. The early postwar years were rough and colorful including a major family spat over whether or not to join the Zionist movement in 1948; this schism nearly killed the company again with some family members emigrating to the newly-created Israel and others remaining steadfast German citizens. But they eventually established themselves as a renowned maker of cheap and durable family cars and entry level makes.

In the mid to late 1960s, Sinsheimer vehicles, in particular their vans and utes, began filtering across the Atlantic into the United States as imports. They were low volume at first but as the volume began to increase Sinsheimer sought a way to start selling domestically in the US. President Lyndon Johnson’s tariff on light trucks however, better known as the Chicken Tax, made this a difficult prospect. Fearing that the mainstream American buyer would also find its original 4-cylinder engines to be woefully underpowered, Sinsheimer sought out not only a loophole but a better engine. The better engine that they found was the Fenton Holdings, Ltd. 90 degree V6, a compact engine that could effectively replace Sinsheimer’s own engines with very little reengineering.

A deal was struck in 1976 between Sinsheimer AG and FHL for FHL to import Sinsheimer vans and utes without engines and perform “final assembly” by installing FHL V6s, thus making the vehicles domestic makes by technicality and therefore circumventing the Chicken Tax. Sinsheimer paid FHL per engine and for assembly costs plus an overhead fee (all still cheaper than the dreadful 25% Chicken Tax) and began selling under their own name in the US in 1977. FHL later licensed the designs to produce under their own newly established brand, Shuttle and Commercial Vehicles or SCV, in 1981. Sinsheimer AG and FHL maintained a loose partnership throughout the 1980s and 1990s, often licensing engines and occasionally entire vehicles. Sinsheimer was FHL’s in to the European market in the mid 1980s.

In 2002, though, Sinsheimer’s partner needed help. Sinsheimer AG ended up acquiring an 80% stake in FHL to keep them from going bankrupt. They helped rebuild FHL by contributing engineering and management resources, by replacing FHL’s poor quality new millennium cars with rebadge Sinsheimers, and getting FHL into the 21st century with their sales practices, particularly for SUVs and trucks. They helped FHL rebound so well that FHL was able to buy themselves down to just 20% of shares owned by Sinsheimer by 2008 but their partnership was permanently altered to be a rock solid alliance rather than merely calling in favors and IOU’s. Murmurs and whispers in the 2018 business world suggest these two companies may be considering an all-out merger.

1999 Sinsheimer Zenit - An Econobox By Any Other Name

Also known as the ‘Apogee’ in the US market – and rebadged and sold by FHL’s Everette brand as the ‘Kent’ in 2002 – the Zenit was Sinsheimer AG’s New Millennium family car. A straightforward design with a transverse front engine, struts in front, double A-arms in the rear, and a durable steel body, the Zenit was really not that notable as a car. It was simply a car designed to be the ride for someone who probably didn’t want to think about their car very much.

The Euro spec Zenit came with a 5-speed manual transmission attached to a one of four engines: a 1.5L turbocharged L4 making 86 kW; a 1.7L low-cost engine making 82 kW; a 1.7L tuned-up engine making 93 kW; or the big one, a 2.3L V6 making an even 100 kW. A 6-speed manual was an option as was a 5-speed automatic, though the automatic was mostly offered because of and mostly purchased on the US export ‘Apogee’.

Fuel economy was good to great depending on transmission and engine. 1.5L turbo models were able to get as high as 5.7L/100km (~ 41 US mpg) with the 6-speed manual. All other engine and transmission combos hovered pretty consistently at about 7.7 L/100km (~31 US mpg), but could all be coaxed higher if driven carefully.

The US spec Apogee did not offer either the 1.5L or 1.7L straight-4s, all three variants being part of Sinsheimer’s K2 engine family. Instead, the base engine was a 2.0L Sinsheimer J2 straight-4 engine making 87 kW with an option on a 2.4L variant making 101 kW. The top engine on the Apogee was a 2.5L Sinsheimer V6 making 110 kW, simply a stroked version of the 2.3L V6. The larger engines in the US spec were offered for three reasons

  1. The larger displacement allowed for the same power to be made on lower grade fuel since 91 RON was ubiquitous in the US while 95 RON was considered premium.
  2. The larger displacement also allowed for more conservative tuning in order to comply with US EPA emissions regulations, in particular NOx emissions which were created in larger volumes by the higher strung K2 engine.
  3. The American market tended to like larger displacement and more power over fuel economy.

Fuel economy was impacted by the larger engine and conservative tune but still remained to be in a healthy range of about 8.3 to 9.0 L/100km (~ 26 to 28 US mpg) depending on engine and transmission of course.

The Euro spec Zenit was offered in a 5-door estate body style while the US spec Apogee was only offered as a 4-door sedan. Estate models were available with all-wheel drive and were equipped with a lifted suspension for better utility and comfort.

While not a selling point for the target market, the car became known for its excellent handling and near instantly gained a tuner crowd, especially in the US where its low cost and good build quality made especially favorable to early 2000s US makes. V6 models are the most desirable since they have the highest tuning potential. And though illegal in many jurisdictions because of the failure to meet emissions regulations, engine swapping a US spec Apogee with an imported 1.5L turbo engine is nonetheless common.

Colors offered were:

  • White
  • Silver
  • Maroon
  • Sky Blue
  • Evergreen

Options included:

  • Premium 6-disc switching CD player
  • Premium sound system
  • Remote entry (base model only had power locks)
  • Sunroof
  • Fog lights
  • Sport Package - included larger brakes, aerodynamic improvements, front lip and rear spoiler, stiffer springs and dampers

(Everette Kent seen here)

With some slight adjustments to the styling (seen above), the US spec Apogee was also sold as the Everette Kent from 2002 until the end of 2007, at which point the Zenit was replaced. It supplanted Everette’s own 5th generate Ellston, which had devolved into a dumpster fire of a car and helped FHL to get back on their feet after their near bankruptcy in 2002.

(Everette Kent seen here)

The Zenit ultimately accomplished its objective of being a basic, reliable car and ended up selling 4.3 million units across all makes in its 8 year lifespan. And in all honesty, its almost so boring that its not worth mentioning in the company’s history. But boring cars have to exist because they are the bottom line; they pay the bills and keep the mainstream customers happy. The world of cars can’t all be pro-touring Mustangs or Phantoms or Zonda Roadsters or SL550s.

Some cars are just regular cars.

NOTE: Some of you know I also claim Fenton Holdings Ltd. I am starting this company since its something different, it helps make for more interesting history particularly for FHL, and also gives me a much more valid excuse and use for the upcoming boxers and straight-5s :smirk:. I am probably not going to be posting much in here until July 13th :smirk: at least, but I figured I would at least claim it while the name is still available. On that last, sorry if this seems at all rushed or hacky or not fleshed because that’s accurate - trying to make sure I get squatter’s rights.

Car Company Directory

This has been a long time coming. I got a bit sick of Automation after Generations concluded but finally I have a new story to tell.

The Early Years - Rebuilding Germany with the Ausführung A and B

(Sinsheimer Ausführung A Allied occupation staff car – S/N 34)

In April 1945, the war was over but arguably the worst still laid ahead as Europe faced up to total economic pulverization. In the months following, the Sinsheimer family emerged from hiding and attempted to help return both their lives and and everyone else’s to normality (or at least something like it) and resumed their work as coach builders that had been curtailed by the Nazi regime. Due to lack of resources and destroyed infrastructure, the work was slow at first and the business looked not to be sustainable.

However, the Allied forces in Germany had need for materiel while the postwar occupation was in play and the Allied command placed an order with the Sinsheimers for 1,000 behind-the-lines staff vehicles in late September of 1945. This provided both the demand and resource backing that the Sinsheimers needed to stay afloat.

(Ausf. A civilian model – S/N 10)

The first few cars which were retroactively dubbed the Ausführung A’s when an improved design was developed for boosted production rates. The Ausf. A’s were completely hand build and as a result each had its own quirks and flaws. Furthermore, the lack of production facilities and resources meant that even with Allied backing, the Ausf. A’s were parts collections. Some had Porsche boxer engines taken for Kübelwagens. Others had Opel 1.3L engines and drivelines and still others had Mercedes 1.7L engines and drivelines. Almost nothing was standardized except the general look and style of the cars which even despite their intended use as a military vehicles had distinctive coach-built touches.

Because the Ausf. A’s were coach built, it was near impossible to build them with any sort of speed and only 271 were built by the time production ceased in September 1946 to make way for the Ausführung B. And because of the low volume, Allied administration had essentially lost interest in Sinsheimer vehicles as they were woefully behind schedule and there was more promise in the burgeoning Volkswagen production. The order for 1,000 vehicles was temporarily withdrawn.

(Ausf. A Allied occupation staff car – S/N 186)

This was at a highly inopportune time as the winter of 1946-47 was one of the most brutal on record which compounded with the sluggish European economy causing food shortages among other things meant that the future for the Sinshiemers was bleak. As an independent, they had a hard time sustaining business, a situation especially not helped by Allied postwar policy of limiting German steel production. Procuring the materials required to build the cars was difficult, let alone building and selling them. The consequence of this was that the first few Ausf. B’s were more or less the same as the Ausf. A’s in the sense that they were parts collections.

(Ausf. B 162 cabriolet – circa 1947 – exact date unknown)

However, a demonstration of a properly built Ausf. B model and its durability and improved production design led to the Allied administration reversing their decision to withdraw the commission in December of 1946. In addition, the commission was expanded in response to the Ausf. B’s design; the order was now for 5,000 vehicles. The Sinsheimers were additionally granted the use of several reclaimed steel warehouses which would have otherwise gone unused thanks to Allied policies on capping German steel production. With a place to set up shop for real, the Ausf. B went into full mass production with proper sheet metal tooling stamping panels and forges casting engine blocks.

The operation was still small and only produced about 10 cars a day at first but this steadily rose and was even in the fledgling days vastly superior to the perhaps 1 car per day Ausf. A. Within four months time, the commission was fulfilled at which point it was expanded again slightly. By this time however, the car had gained notoriety in the public eye and the Ausf. B transitioned into be a mostly civilian car.

(Ausf. B 162 cabriolet – circa 1947)

The Ausf. B used simplified sheet metal design compared to the Ausf. A and it was slated to use a purpose built drive train rather than an adhoc adapatation from other vehicles. Specifically it used a heavily Porsche-inspired 1.6L water cooled 4-cylinder boxer engine coupled to a 4-speed manual transmission. The Ausf. B also had a simplistic though still significant 4 wheel independent suspension design with double wishbones at the front and trailing arms at the rear. It was a very basic car designed for reliability and production ease above all else. Initially, the Ausf. B was offered only as a 2-door coupe or 2-door convertible. It had bench seats front and rare, virtually nothing inside apart from the things needed to operate it, and like the Ford Model T came in any color the customer wanted as a long as it was steel blue-gray. By 1949, a cream white color was also offered.

(1954 Ausf. B 194)

The car became the mainstay of the Sinsheimer brand and it evolved and adapted over the years to meet new needs. In 1954, the original 1.6L engine was bored out to 1.9L for additional power and for the first time, a 4-door sedan model was offered. A year and a half later, the car morphed again into a utility variant with a truck bed and raised suspension for carrying bigger loads. By 1957, the model was going to be replaced by a new Ausf. C model but the Ausf. B’s continued popularity and tested durability meant that the introduction was delayed and for a period between 1959 and 1963 when the Ausf. finally terminated production, it was produced alongside the Ausf. C. By 1959 though, the intent was to phase out the Ausf. B and as a result, production of the passenger models was ramped down and the focus was shifted towards the utility and delivery van variants introduced in 1955 and 1957 respectively.

(1956 Ausf. B 192 ute)

The Ausf. B did receive a minor facelift in 1954 when the sedan models were introduced and again in 1959 to help freshen its look alongside the new C models. 1959 also brought the larger 2.0L engine which was used also in the C model.

Known for above all else being a bread and butter car, the Sinsheimer Ausf. B was the car that truly started the brand. It was relatively cheap, durable, and produced in huge quantities. By the time of its cessation of production, 5.7 million cars of all variants had been produced and found its way into various parts of the world thanks to its reputation for dependability. A few of the utility and delivery van variants made their way across the Atlantic and into the United States where they gave the US public a taste for Sinsheimer vehicles. This naturally led Sinsheimer to trying to find a way to economically export to the US but this was unfortunately hampered by Volkswagen’s own dealings with the US market triggering the Chicken Tax. The 25% tariff on the main models of interest – utes and vans – was too stiff and the Sinsheimer stuck to the European market until the 1970s.

(1958 Ausf. B 192 transporter)

Today, a huge number of Ausf. B’s are still around simply because of how many were built and how well they stood the test of time. However, the Ausf. A’s, as primarily a military model, are extremely rare. Most were scrapped by the Allies upon withdrawing the bulk of the occupation force in 1954. Of the 271 built, only three still exist; Number 5, the only remaining civilian model, and Number 34, a tan staff model are now part of the Sinsheimer family private collection; Number 186, another tan staff model, is on display at the Heritage Collection in Everett, WA.

(1961 Ausf. B 204)

The Ausf. B’s simplicity, availability, and classic car status make it a popular car for modification and such modifications include anything from turbo V8 dragster models to AWD buildups to hilarious lowriders, much like its spiritual twin, the Volkswagen Beetle.This is one car that will never be forgotten and that is entirely meant as a compliment.

(1961 Ausf. B 204)

Ausf. B Specs:

  • Wheelbase: 2.62 m
  • Length: 4.15 m
  • Body styles:
    • 2 door coupe
    • 2 door convertible
    • 4 door sedan (1954-)
    • Ute (1955-)
    • Delivery van (1957-)
  • Longitudinal front engine:
    • RWD (all models)
    • 4x4 (optional on 1960- utes)
  • Engines:
    • 1.6L boxer 4 (1947 - 1953)
    • 1.9L boxer 4 (1954 - 1958)
    • 2.0L boxer 4 (1959-)
  • Transmission: 4 speed manual
  • Fuel economy: about 11.0 L/100km



  • Cast iron block and head
  • Cam in block overhead valve; 2 valves per cylinder
  • 85 mm bore X 70 mm stroke – 1588 cc
  • 7.7:1 compression
  • 1x single barrel carburetor
  • 35 kW @ 3400 RPM
  • 108.9 Nm @ 2300 RPM
  • 3800 RPM redline

identical to the 1600 except as follows

  • 93 mm bore X 70 mm stroke – 1901 cc
  • 45.6 kW @ 3700 RPM
  • 133.4 Nm @ 2400 RPM
  • 4100 RPM redline

identical to the 1900 except as follows

  • 93 mm bore X 73.5 mm stroke – 1996 cc
  • 7.8:1 compression
  • 49.7 kW @ 3900 RPM
  • 141.3 Nm @ 2400 RPM
  • 4300 RPM redline