There is more to Austria than Schubert, Strauss and Strudel!

by James Kraus

JK - 1 (48)

Sobiesław Zasada and Kazimierz Oińsky on their way to a class win at the 1965 Rallye Monte-Carlo in a Steyr-Puch 650 TR II

I am not alluding to a certain well-known California actor and former politician, but a rather a more mechanical manifestation of Austrian muscle: The Steyr-Puch 650 TR II; a giant and gem among 1960s microcars. The TR II was a Fiat 500 injected with corticosteroids, human growth hormone and EPO; yet entirely legal.

The venerable firm of Steyr-Puch first began building their version of the Fiat Nuova 500 under license in 1957. Production began in the town of Graz, Austria, shortly after Fiat began their own production of their all-new rear-engine 500. While incorporating the Fiat’s monocoque structure and front suspension, the Steyr-Puch 500 utilized an in-house Steyr-developed powertrain and rear suspension.

While the Fiat 500 engine was designed to be as inexpensive as possible to manufacture, the Puch engine was incredibly lavish in design and execution, with a sophistication that put many larger and more expensive cars to shame.  Continue reading