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Wagner Automobile


#1

This is my second company, but there are waaay less cars than the main company CMT.
Wagner is located in Hetvesia, where Bruno Wagner founded the company in 1949. The owner of several service garages started to grey-import CMT vehicles as the company was not officially present in Hetvesia. He managed to get CMT engines and built a car around it.

The Wagner “Autobahn” was a 2+2 seater coupe, and it featured the 83 horsepower engine from the CMT 2000S which was brand-new back then. Today we would consider it as a shitbox, but back then, the car was definitely something interessing. The engine was mounted in the rear, but as it needed heavy duty cast pistons and conrods it was everything but smooth. The slim cross ply tyres back then were a joke even if they featured a soft sports compound, and the car was prone to oversteer at any time.
The interior was a very sporty one using light materials, but put together with good workmanship. A radio was not standard equipment. As this car often crashed as it required a skilled driver, its advanced safety features copied from CMT cars were really needed.


On the road, the car needed just 10,7 seconds to 100 kph, and 175 were really fast for late 40s Hetvesia. 12,7 liter consumption were a merit of the light weight, as the car was built on a space frame and aluminium panels. This allowed for 687 kg in the 3,8 meter car. The suspension was ultra-modern with double wishbone on all four wheels - but the tires were really not capable of this machine with its heavy rear. $19.500 were a high price for a car that managed a test track time of 2:54,75 minutes, but the competition was rather small.
CMT imported it as sports car to Gasmea with little success, but in Frunia it succeeded as track premium car, as it was totally different from the CMT sports car model, the RT2000.
The Wagner Autobahn had no comfort at all, the car was terribly oversteering and the definitely advanced suspension lacked experience in the setup, and the engine was not smooth. But that car had character and became the base of “Wagner Automobile GmbH” in Hetvesia.


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#2

Can any mod please move the topic in the right folder?
I made a goof and posted it among the challenges - my fault, sorry.


#3

Wagner offered a facelifted version of the Autobahn in 1954, as the original car was more and more left behind by the competition.

MK2 models added a standard AM radio, chrome elements and different headlights. The front brake drums became a little larger as the car was heavier now, and the CMT engine was completely reworked. CMT had no problems with that as they were already working on a new OHC four-cylinder engine and left Wagner all the blueprints of their OHV engine family.


As the materials became better, there was no longer a need for heavy duty parts - conrods and pistons were totally normal parts, improving the smoothness. Some other tweaks allowed for 87 horsepower output and strong 155 nm torque. The whole car became slightly faster, now needing 10,4 seconds to 100 kph and going 178. The consumption remained identical.

On the suspension side, Wagner added an extreme rear camber (0,50 in the front, -1,8 in the rear) to prevent the car from the serious oversteer, but the improvement was little, many drivers still crashed their Wagner Autobahn despite a minor predictability gain. The time on the test track improved a little also supported by the few extra horses, and the MK2 was two seconds faster, with a total time of 2:52,17 minutes.

The comfort was still a downside, and so the sales did not go as high as Wagner wanted. The only market where the cars worked somehow was Frunia.
Bruno Wagner realized that the CMT engine was good to begin with, and still good for everyday cars, but for a sports car with a price of $20.700 something more innovative was in need.


#4

In the case of the Autobahn line this is totally justified; it’s a rear-engined car with narrow tires. On a front-drive car with its weight mostly up front, however, creating oversteer (up to a point) is more desirable, and so the camber angles for such a car should be increased in the front and decreased in the rear.


#5

The MKII models were not terrible cars, but not using their full potential. Bruno Wagner had to make the descision if his company should stay a “hobby” automaker or becoming a real manufacter. He choosed the second, and already in 1954 he gave green lights for an own engine designed to be used in the Autobahn. He hired the experienced engineer Rainald Holtmann (father of CMTs later chief engine designer Klaus Holtmann) to lead the team.

The WB20 engine was ready in 1957, and still a four-cylinder had two liter displacement - a car so light and small like the Autobahn would have been a death trap with more than that.
The boxer layout fitted better in the rear of the car, and the lower center of gravity improved the dangerous handling significantly. This also allowed for less rear camber, as many MKII owners complained the high cost for sports tires that were quickly worn out on the rear axle.
The change for wider radial tires now available made the MKIII the driving machine it was meant to be.

On the engine side there was also immense progress - the engine was still made of cast iron, but had SOHC instead of OHV valvetrain and - copied from latest southern frunian cars like Ferrero and Beta Giulia - four valves per cylinder. Forged pistons and conrods made it at least a little more reliable than its rivals, but the two two-barell carburetors were difficult to maintain. The car urged for premium 98 octane gas, as sports car buyers are not on a tight budget and prefer some extra power over lower gas prices. 118 horsepower from two liter displacement were indeed something brilliant back then.

The top speed passed the magical 200 kph-line with 201 kph, and 8 seconds to 100 were a rocket in the late 50s. The consumption was remarkably low with only 8,6 liter - so the use of premium gas was bearable in total. The MKIII models are today considered as the best compared to their time period, and they were indeed like another car compared to the predecessor that was introduced only three years ago.
The time on the test track improved dramatically to 2:39,99 minutes, more than 12 seconds less.

For a price of $22.500, not even 2.000 more, the car sold good for the first time in the Hetvesian home market and became the number one sports car, some see it as a national anthem even today. In Gasmea and Frunia the demand was there, especially in Frunia, but the company was too small to meet the demand, so Bruno Wagner sold 33,3 percent of his company to CMT to get the money for a larger factory that already opened in 1958.

This was also necessary due to the second model Wagner offered - a roadster. Other than the Autobahn, the Wagner Tourer was front-engined, but the flat hood was already designed for the new boxer engine. The chassis in general was kept, a space frame with aluminium panels and double wishbone suspension in front and rear - Wagner saw no reason for buying new tools and used as much as possible from the Autobahn. Despite the small size with a lenght of 3,7 meter and hardly any space for the two occupants, the car was over 200 kg heavier than the Autobahn, as its frame was totally reinforced to give at least a little safety in such a driving coffin. This made the car slower, as it needed 10,3 seconds to 100 kph and only had a top speed of 179, but the test track time was not bad with 2:45,91 minutes, mainly due to the perfect 50/50 weight distribution that was one of the main objectives. 11,4 liter consuption were noticeably more than the Autobahn, but in return the Tourer was easier and less expensive to serivce.
The car was a very good seller in the convertible sport segment for $21.200, mainly a reason why CMT started developement of their second sports car, the Monza, that was basically a technically simpler and cheaper, less-radical interpretation of the Tourer that cared about daily use and some basic comfort.



#6

1961

Bruno Wagner died in 1959, and the employees elected Rainald Holtmann as their new boss. He was excentric but he knew what he was doing. A brilliant engineer and a good salesman.
He was very angry that CMT copied the Wagner “reciepe” with their 1960 Indianapolis, a car with double wishbone suspension in front and rear and aluminium panels, but with V8 engine - this cut the market space above the Autobahn. In return, Holtmann bought himself a CMT Monza and made a list what to change to have a great everyday sports car at aceptable cost. But before this car was done, Wagner showed facelifts of the existing models in mid-1961.

The Autobahn had another facelift, this time more changes were made to the previous design than in the facelifts before. The MK IV had effective changes under the aluminium as well, such as even wider tries, disc brakes in front and rear, slightly better safety and an engine update with a more agressive camshaft and two four-barrel carburetors, as the Autobahn was not just good in a straight line as its name implies but became a capable track tool, so more high-end power was needed, now 129 horsepower in total, a lot for a two-liter engine in the early 60s.


The test track time improved once again, now the course was completed in 2.34,88 minutes. The car accelerated to 100 kph in just 7,62 seconds and was able to get up to 209 kph. The consumption suffered from the sport camshaft and in general higher revs, but 9,5 liter premium were still low for what the car offered performance wise. $ 23.400 were a quite high price, but the car was still not a weak seller, especially Frunians still bought a lot of them - even until its end in 1968.

The Tourer MKII recieved the same engine update and new indicators and grille - that was it mostly. It accelerated in 9,55 seconds and managed to run 186 kph, but needed 12,2 liter gas, but with 2:42,43 minutes it was not much slower on the track. For $ 21.800 it was still a popular option in the roadster segment. But it was obvious Wagner did not put much effort in the Tourer, they worked the most on their third model.



#7

1962 - the breakthrough

As CMT “stole” Rainald Holtmann the opportuinity to create a top-end car, he decided to offer an entry-level car designed to beat the CMT Monza. With 2:46,12 minutes test track time, the 1959 Monza was not really sporty. It was a four-seater with a rather lowtech 2.4 liter inline six delivering 111 horsepower. It was neither very sporty nor really comfortable and used the basic chassis of a compact car, the 1958 CMT Libra. For $15.400, it was a daily driver coupe, not really a sports car.

This gave Wagner the idea to create a sports car that was even better in daily use than the CMT Monza for the same price.
The Gepard was introduced in 1962 and sold for $16.400 - only a thousand more, but faster with 2:40,92 minutes. Yes, it did sacrifice the rear seats and was only a two-seater, but it was sportier AND more comfortable than the CMT rival. In addidtion to that, the car was considered to look miles better although the CMT was only three years old back then.
The all-independent wheels together with the 129 horsepower boxer engine with low center of gravity, the almost perfect 53/47 weight distribution and four disc brakes made the car a more than capable rival in the $ 15.000-16.500 price range.
With 8,6 seconds to 100 kph it was able to outrun stronger cars if wisely using the four-speed gearbox, but 173 kph top speed were not really fast but totally acceptable for a rather budget sports car, but here you recognized only a two-liter four cylinder was powering it.
Despite a definitely not frugal premium interior with a standard AM radio, the consumption of the Gepard was rather low with 12,3 liter premium gas, and the service costs were at least bearable with $ 830, not more than the CMT with a lot more conservative engineering. Even the reliability was not too far behind the CMT Monza, as Wagner built the boxer engine for meanwhile five years.


The car was very succesful, again especially in Frunia where two thirds of the production were sold, and it squeezed down the Monza sales, but the two extra seats and the lower price kept the CMT somehow in the competition until it was ereased in mid-1964 while the Monza V8 convertible recieved an update and lasted until 1969.

The Gepard showed CMT that despite owning one third of the company, Wagner had not been a shy junior partner but a self-confident sports car expert.
And it showed as well all others that a small specialized company is able to develop an excellent allrounder, conventional but still innovative.


#8

1963 - Engagement in motorsport

Race on sunday, sell on monday - Rainald Holtmann was sure this would work for Wagner. But as the cars sold satisfactory, his intention must have been another. Holtmann was - like his son Klaus later - an obsessed engineer and he was ambitious.

in 1962, some modified Autobahns and Gepards did well in the 2000ccm class World Touring Car Championsship (WTCC 2000). For 1963, Wagner came up with a true race car - available for everyone who had $ 25.400 to spend.
This was significantly more than for the Gepard, but the Gepard was a road car, and this not, as it was called Rasanto for a reason. The chassis was the usual Wagner stuff, four double wishbone links, a monocoque as space frame would have been to difficult to produce and aluminium panels. The car had no radio and a sport interior, as it was an ascetic driving machine, but Rainald Holtmann complained about being “boiled” in a hot summer test drive, so the cars recieved a targa roof.
The power came from a race-tuned variant of the 2.0 liter Boxer, now returning impressive 154 horsepower.
100 kph were on the odometer after just 7,5 seconds, and 200 were no problem. Two DCOE Weber carburetors were a typical fuel system for mid 60s race cars. A surprising fact was that the engine had aggressive cam, high compression, but still two mufflers and no race parts as it had to be street legal to be put on sale - Wagner needed additional sales as compensation for the massive cost.


The mid-engined monster did not oversteer as hard as one might think, thanks to 235 “roller” tires on the rear axle, and 2:31,92 test track time were enough to impress, although the similar-priced Autobahn Mk IV was nearlly as fast and a little cheaper while being everyday usable.
The economy wasn’t great though, but 14,8 liter consumption were still low for a true race car. For that reason, it did not sell too bad, in fact, it won the 1963 WTCC and almost the 1964 one as well, but the competitors reacted and in the second half of the season, they came up with high-strung engines that were faster than the Wagner’s. But Wagner already had other plans for the Rasanto and left the 2000 ccm class.

1965 - overambitous

For the 1965 touring car season, Wagner started in the “A league” for ultra-performance cars. This was what the Rasanto had been built for, it just lacked a proper engine so it had to do some “warm-up” in the 2000 ccm class.
A-league meant that the race cars had over 500 horsepower and ran 300 kph. Even for a much larger company like CMT it was tough managing this, so it is almost miraculous that Holtmann’s team managed to get a respectable fifth place in the first race, especially considering that the car was just finished four hours before qualification.

On the standard test track, the Rasanto VR72 made an impressive 2:10,49 run! The car itself swapped four-speed transmission against a five-speed gearbox, and semi-slicks were fitted straight from the factory as it wasn’t designed to be driven onroad but to be sold to pivateers. 265 tires on the rear and 215 in the front were even larger. Two-piston disc brakes and semi-clad underbody as well as latest safety technology made it a strong rival.

But the most innovative was the engine, as Wagner mounted nothing less than a 7,2 liter V12 behind the driver.
To save weight, it was an all-alloy engine, and it had not just four valves but also dual overhead camshafts - a true masterpiece. Forged internal parts were even boring considering it already came with fuel injection - the complex carburetor systems were prone to failure, and so Wagner did choose the best of the best as the MFI system was definitely more reliable at equal power, and the throttle-per-cylinder layout allowed for excellent response. To at least make a legal use on public roads possible, Wagner had to decide between a race intake or race manifold. As the ultramegahyper-complex engine was something even Holtmann himself didn’t trust, he left the performance intake and installed a race manifold. To meet governmental restrictions, one muffler was left in the exhaust system.

The engine delivered 548 horsepower which was at the top of racing cars back then. It was enough to propell the car in 4,5 seconds to 100 kph and get a maximum of 293. With 21,2 liter consumption, it wasn’t too addicted to fuel which was a benefit on 24-hour endurance races where the Rasanto VR72 scored even a win in LaManche with its long highspeed passages.
The GT series saw Wagner Rasantos in second, third and sixth place. For $ 64.300 it was only accessible for millionaires, but some tourist drivers really bought it for their racing ambitions, and it was definitely a collector’s item.

1967 - Gone too far

Wagner had neither the engineers nor the money to improve the car for 1966, and they kept their second place only with luck and fortune despite having good drivers. The “consumer cars”, the road-going models, saw no change since 1961 and the Gepard could get some improvements for sure. The sales of the cars dropped a little, while the expenses for the racing team skyrocketed. The successor, the “b”, was not much more expensive and was popular among privateers, but the limited production resources and the massive development costs made these cars a giant loss for Wagner.

The 556 horsepower VR72b wasn’t really much faster with a test track time of 2:10,19. No wonder, as 4,4 seconds to 100 and 294 kph top speed were not really much more and the use of gas dampers did not as help as much as planned. As the car became a little more reliable and needed now “just” 20,9 liter, the success in La Manche had been followed a second in 1967, but for the 1968 season the dominance of the VR72b would be broken.

Broke was also Wagner, now selling most of the company to CMT which hold a 2/3 interest in Wagner since early 1967. Rainald Holtmann had to leave the CEO chair for Christoph Martin Thandor, and most Wagner employees, like Klaus Holtmann and many other engineers, were integrated into the CMT developement centers. In return, CMT would help Wagner to get back on their feet in road car business.



#9

That is a lot of displacement for a Euro exotic of the 60s.

Very much ahead of its time - in fact it wouldn’t become commonplace until 20-30 years after the Rasanto debuted.


#10

Wagner is an engineer brand. So if they want to build the best and fastest racing car, they went really far. But as you can read now, this effort ruined the company and there are tough times to come for Wagner.


#11

1968 - Restructuration

The first new car was Wagner’s first-ever sedan. In fact, it was at first something very different than it became. When CMT started a design contest for their new flagship Excelsior, Sisten Motors had the winning draft - but there was one problem: The prototype was way too small, and CMT parked it in their hangar and forgot it, as the smaller Astrona III Model had already it’s design done by 1965 and debuted the year after.
Just at this point, CMT remembered the car in their hangar and found a market niche for it: A sports sedan, more exclusive and expensive than the Astrona 2000iS and sportier than the Astrona 3000L.

The new engine was already there: To offer faster versions of the Gepard that the customers urged for, Wagner developed a full-aluminium 2,8 liter V6 engine. A good improvement was it’s capability of running on unleaded regular fuel, making it easier to refuel everyday cars like the Gepard, while the race cars kept their urge for premium leaded. As Wagner transferred race technology to road cars, it had an innovative four-valve head, but only one overhead camshaft instead of two. Wagner feared reliability issues with oversophisticated constructions. The output of 162 horsepower was definitely an announcement for a midsize sedan of the late 60s, and so was it’s price of $ 23.200 - the Astrona 3000L with 150 horsepower from a rather simple 3.0 liter V6 and similar complete trim including a three-speed automatic was available for only $ 17.500.
The suspension differed a lot from the CMT Astrona’s simple design, as the Touring had the typical wagner chassis with four double wishbone links.
The all-premium interior was more or less the same as in the Astrona L models, differing only by other gauges in the style of other Wagner models, a different steering wheel and more shaped seats that hold the passenger better in fast corners.


The massive power was sent to the rear wheels with a five-speed manual - a feature rarely seen back then for a non-sports car. Disc brakes in front and rear and medium compound tires underlined the sporty approach of the car.
It accelerated in only 8 seconds to 100 kph, which made it one of the fastest sedans of it’s time. Although Wagner hoped for prestigious 200 kph top speed, a stock Touring reached only 196 - close enough.
13,4 liter consumption were indeed not much compared to it’s time, and you could easily use the car to drive to work, but on a twisty road, this car showed engaged handling, but the drivers needed experience to handle the oversteer the car had in extreme situations. On the test track the car archieved impressive 2:40,46.

Despite the expensive price and the lack of optional automatic transmission, the car sold good in the family sport premium segment worldwide. It was fast, agile and the Sisten design loved by the public.

Although the Gepard still had steady sales, the competition left it behind as the old four-cylinder boxer wasn’t that sensational innovative anymore as back in the late 50s. And with better tires, suspension and safety features, two liter displacement felt little.
The Gepard facelift recieved the 2.8 liter engine for that reason - the drivetrain with five-speed manual was shared with the Touring. The two-seater kept its premium interior offering quite a lot comfort features, and the standard AM radio was changed to the new premium stereo from the Touring.

With 7,14 seconds acceleration, the Gepard now deserved to be called sports car, although only 185 kph top speed rather reccomend it for a twisty country road than for a highway. With 2:32,38 seconds it was more than 8 seconds faster than its predecessor. 13,7 liter consumption were surprisingly more than in the larger and heavier Touring, but that did not stop the car from becoming a worldwide success like the “original” Gepard. For $ 22.000, it had prestige, power, good handling to compete with sports cars while offering surprising comfort - seen that way, the price was even quite low in it’s class. The only visual differences of the new model were larger taillights and one inch larger rims, as Wagner considered the design as still up-to-date.

To prove the performance to everyone and to increase the Rasanto sales, Wagner offered a V28 model in 1968. The V6 was race-tuned to way over 200 horsepower, but at high revs the engine broke in testing, so the displacement had to be cut to 2,5 liter by using a shorter stroke. The V28 sent the 1962-onwards entry-level Rasanto with 154 horsepower into retirement, despite now requiring $ 33.200 instead of only $ 25.400.

The 2,5 liter engine still managed to deliver 201 horsepower, and it propelled the Rasanto in 5,6 seconds to 100 kph and up to 220 kph top speed. On the track, it was a lot faster, it needed more than seven seconds less with a time of 2:24,37 minutes.
The handling was tricky, and the brake-oversteer made it’s customers soon looking for aftermarket rear wings. Despite this issue, many privateers bought one of these race cars, and they could even use it in daily traffic with only 13,4 liter premium leaded consumption.
But compared to the “real” Rasantos with mighty race-only engines, the V28 was nothing but a good joke, even if it pleased hobby race drivers.


1968 was a good turnaround - the two new road models sold great. But the V6 Gepard alone would not have saved the brand in its financial crisis. The Touring that was developed in record time with help and money from CMT, was a main pillar of Wagner’s existance.
For the following years, Wagner had no longer a factory race team, but supported the private team of the Frunian industrial tycoon Ludovico Rossi with a new chassis succeeding the VR72b.


#12

1969 - The ultimative machine

For the Group C seasons 1969 and 1970 Wagner released the last stage of their V12 engine. The VR72c was a further developement of the b model, and it increased it’s power even further. CMT was very successful especially in Gasmea, and the Wagner Racing Team with it’s losses was a welcomened black hole of loss in order to save taxes AND keeping the Wagner staff motivated. With 595 horsepower, the car was a rolling coffin, propelling to 100 kph in only 3,9 seconds and managing to run 300 kph on a straight line. The suspension was rock hard, the brakes aggressive, the engine yelling caused petrolheads goosebumps. In 2:07,91 the test track lap was finished from standstill - a lot faster than its predecessor.
With 21,2 liter consumption the economy slightly suffered, but the better performance made that up. For private teams it was available for $ 72.400.
This monster really won the title in 1969 and became second in 1970. But five drivers died in these two years and Wagner asked itself if they had gone too far.


1971

As said, Wagner tried to make the car more civillized. The VR65 not only looked sleeker, it was a more pure and focussed driving machine. As the Frunian Rossi team took the responsibility for the races and paid Wagner a few million dollar for developing new cars, the engineers had more time to develop road cars for CMT.
The V12 was left behind and cut to a V8, but the displacement was still 6,5 liter due to larger bore and stroke. Wagner still focussed on mighty power behind the driver seat, and the 566 horsepower engine made it a car not to scorn. The technical specs were identical to the V12, so it was again an ultra-sophisticated four-valve DOHC alloy engine. A flatplane crankshaft gave it a characteristical screaming noise. Accelleration decreased to 4,3 seconds and the top speed to 295 kph. The lap times were kept quite stable with 2:08,47 minutes on the test track, but the drivers considered it as safer to handle and making more fun. With 1216 kg it was not too heavy and lighter than the mighty VR72c. Surprisingly, it needed more fuel with 23 liter, but it was cheaper to buy with $ 63.500, so Wagner sold some more units to privateers, making up some of the financial losses.
The car was not unsuccesful, it won a few races but not the title.


1972
The road car portfolio was thin and not up to date. For that reason, Wagner unveiled facelifted cars.
The 2,8 liter engine now had two horsepower more, but the long stroke still made it very costly to manage revs like a sports car engine should. Nevertheless the new engines were still breaking under heavy stress, but buyers preferred fun over reliability. The rest of the cars was proven.

The Gepard recieved a minor exterior facelift with larger indicators and foglamps, and the headlights were slightly different. A new set of alloy rims was also found in the brochure.
For $ 23.200 it accellerated to 100 kph in brisk 7 seconds, but the top speed of 189 kph was still only average. 13,2 liter regular gas were nothing to complain about. Light, comfortable and serious sportiness - Wagner continued to sell a lot of these cars especially on the Hetvesian home market and the Gepard showed no weakness at all in it’s 10th year - if you avoid extreme engine stress.


See this? No, it’s not a Wagner Touring 280.

This is a 1971-onwards Sisten C4300. They used their design originally planned for CMT themselves and changed only the headlights to dual ones. To maintain the distance to Sisten, CMT now had the indicators mounted next to new trapeze headlights, and the former indicators became the foglamps. The grille was simpler and less ornate now to add some modern touch.

With the updated engine and right use of the five-speed manual, the sport saloon saw 100 kph after 8 seconds, and 200 top speed were possible - an incredible top speed for a sedan back then, and 13,2 liter regular were quite cheap to run for such a performance machine - but the price wasn’t: $ 24.900 were quite an announcement even for a premium sedan, but there was no other family sport premium like this: No automatic transmission available, tuning to oversteer at will, highly sophisticated construction of the engine (but not rewarded with good reliability), comfortable and well-built interior. With an annual service fee of $ 838 it suited the wealthy family man who secretly wants a sport coupe for engaged driving, but needs rear doors and five seats.

Yes, buyers loved it and enthusiasts went wild, but the niche was very small, so these cars were not as popular on the roads as one might think, but still made a financial plus for Wagner.