Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin


D-Rad Taxi and it passenger in 1928 Berlin (author and source of the image unknown).

(The following story has been featured in our first book, “Notmsparker´s Berlin Companion”)

Did you know that between 1925 and the end of 1927 Berlin had a fleet of 180 motorcycle taxis which almost completely replaced the regular car taxi service in many parts of the city? Introduced #OTD 1925 the Motax-Droschke was a well-liked if only temporary form of public transport.

Like the rest of the city, Berlin-Spandau suffered consequences of the raging depression: their taxi service, for instance – a bit of a luxury but also an important means of transportation – collapsed almost entirely. With prices far too high for an average person, customers disappeared and the taxi-drivers were forced to wrap up their business (a catastrophe for their families depending on the driver’s regular income). Central-Berlin taxi companies, on the other hand, had no interest in serving the distant Spandau. Not even official pleas issued by the borough council and directed at Berlin’s greatest taxi provider, Autoruf, could convince the latter to install Taxirufsäulen (taxi call-boxes) at any location within the borough.

Motorad Droschke (image via “Die Welt”).

However, since at the time Spandau was home to one of the greatest motorcycle companies in Europe (according to some experts even in the world), solution to the problem came from within. In 1925 D-Rad Werke or Deutsches Rad Werke (German Wheel Factory), with their seat in Spandauer Freiheit, introduced the latest model of their motorcycle: a Motax-Droschke.

Motax-Droschken, also known as D-Rad Taxis, were motorcycles with a side-car which could transport one passenger per ride at half the regular (pre-crisis) price. By the end of 1927, when their maintenance proved after all to be too costly and the motorcycle taxis were no longer used for regular service, D-Rad Werke built 180 of them. All of the Motax-Droschken were constructed exclusively for the Berlin market.

To see a real Berlin Motax-Droschke in action watch this short clip from a Castle Films / British Pathe documentary Beauty & Berlin. Enjoy the ride!


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