44 Zundapp outfits
The second gathering of the Elephants took place on ; once again in Glemseck, close to the Solitude circuit near Stuttgart.
Learning of the event by word of mouth, 44 Zundapp teams took part, mainly from Hamburg, Braunschweig and Berlin. The spirit of the rally remained faithful to the initial vision of Ernst Leverkus 'aka Klacks', its organiser. No trophy, no medal or commemorative souvenir.
Elefantentreffen 1957- The meeting's mascot.
This meeting, given the name 'Elefanten-Treffen', (meeting of the elephants), was once again only open to Zundapp KS 601 motorcycles, and unfortunately sparked an avalanche of rather negative articles among the editors of German newspapers at the time.
They were curious as to the motive of those taking part. Why would these people, who almost certainly owned one or two comfortable cars, want to meet in winter for no obvious reason? They were even accused of a hidden agenda, driving at night and in the cold, and for some from long distances, simply to meet like-minded people who they didn't know and had never even met.
Some of the 44 Zundapp KS 601 outfits seen at Glemseck in January 1957.
To ride a motorbike anything up to 1400 kilometres in the middle of January, just to spend a few hours together among fellow bikers, seemed a little suspicious to the readers of the German press articles commenting on the meeting.
Another dilemma highlighted by the press coverage was that black motorcycles (BMWs) were not allowed to participate while the green ones were. This apparent sectarianism seemed very weird to most journalists and their readers!
at Bad Durkheim Schlosscafe
300 outfits and 450 bikers
Following the reunion of January 1957, many letters were received by Klacks, then editor of 'Das Motorrad' magazine and Carl Hertweck its editor-in-chief, all asking the same question:
"Should we sell our black motorcycles just because you only want to see green ones?"
Klacks and Carl wrestled with this unforeseen dilemma. Although the meeting, since its inception, was aimed at the owners of Zundapp, it became obvious that the owners of BMWs, especially the less fortunate ones, made the same financial sacrifices to buy a motorcycle in the first place as well as and to maintain it. Therefore, they deserved to be able to participate in the next 'Elefanten-Treffen' as much as anyone.
But if they were to admit BMW motorcycles for the next meeting, it followed that it would be unfair not to accept other brands. They therefore decided to throw the meeting open to all.
This exchange of letters with readers of the magazine finally led major changes introduced for the 1958 meeting. Klacks believed that by opening this meeting to all, numbers would most likely double compared to the previous year. He estimated that around 90-100 motorcycles and 120 bikers would attend the 1958 event.
Klacks would have preferred to retain the Kurhaus Glemseck hotel as the venue for the 1958 meeting; but a local dance club had already booked the place for the same date, and it would, on balance, be easier to cater for a group of 120 in a small town deserted in winter, rather than a big city environment.
Elefantentreffen 1958 - rally map
In the event he opted for Bad Durkheim, a spa town lying at the edge of Palatinate Forest on the German Wine Route. This town lay some 30km east of Kaiserslautern and around 20km west of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim.
One reason behind this choice was the decision of a certain Dr. Rialo, and a restaurateur, Herr Ihringer, (who incidentally just happened to own a Vincent motorcycle), who went out of their way to encourage Klacks as to the suitability of the town and who pre-emptively started to arrange the meeting there.
Elefantentreffen 1958 - a participant that year.
Even before Christmas, the Bad Durkheim tourist office had already received 140 telephone calls and by the Saturday morning of the rally there were 200 firm reservations. By 5.00pm on the day of the meeting the Schlosscafe main room was completely full and to make matters worse, shortly afterwards another 130 motorcycles arrived unexpectedly.
A view of the rallyists at the Elefantentreffen 1958
Though it is impossible to give a precise number for those attending the 1958 meeting, what we do know with some certainty is that the restaurant had 350 seats and later that evening they had to borrow another 100 as well as some benches so everyone could be seated. All in all they were probably not far off 500!
- Jean-Francois Helias