Hanomag Railway Engine built in 1932
The company dates back to 1835 when Georg Egestorff founded a company called Eisen-Giesserei und Maschinenfabrik Hannover to build small steam engines. They soon started making farm machinery and in 1846 built their first railway locomotive for the Hannover State Railways. By 1870 they had made 500 locomotives and in 1871 changed their name to Hannoversche Maschinenbau AG. Road vehicles followed when in 1905 they received a contract for steam waggons for the German army.
Petrol engined vehicles followed in 1912 with a line of farm tractors.
Hanomag 2/10PS "Kommissbrot"
Hanomag 1.5 Litre "Rekord"
By the 1920s, the market for steam road vehicles was in terminal decline and Hanomag looked to cars as the future, particularly economy models. In 1925, they launched the Hanomag 2/10, a 370 kg (816 lb) open two seater with a rear-mounted 500cc single-cylinder water cooled engine. Named Zweisitzer Limousine (two-seat limousine) by the company, its rounded front and rear gained it the nickname Kommissbrot for its resemblance to a loaf of Army bread. Although made in large numbers, 15,775 in total, it did not make much money for the company and in the late 1920s the railway locomotive division was sold to Henschel & Son of Kassel.
A more conventional car, the 3/16PS, and the first diesel engined tractors, came in 1928, taking the company back into profit. Hanomag were badly hurt by the drop in trade in 1929 and built a large stock of unsold vehicles. Things improved in 1930 and the company got 14 per cent of the domestic car market, second place behind Opel, but in 1931 a new crisis came when the banks called a loan. The factory was mortgaged to Hannover City and the Vereinigte Stahlwerke trust and the company relaunched as Hanomag Automobil und Schlepperbau GmbH.
For 1932, a new small car, the 1.1 Litre, renamed the Garant in 1934, was announced and sold well allowing two shift working to be introduced and it was joined by the larger 1.5 litre Rekord (a name later used by Opel) in 1933 with independent front suspension. A diesel Rekord was shown at the 1936 Berlin Motor Show.
During World War II, the car plant made military vehicle engines, a military version of their heavy tractor renamed the SS-100, and half track troop carriers. Hanomag 20 B, a 4-wheel-drive Small Unit-Personnel Carrier was produced 1937-1940 (ca. 2000) under the parentage of Stoewer. Capacity problems by Stoewer resulted in co-production by both BMW and Hanomag. Together the three manufacturers made ca. 10.000 units. The special 4-wheel-steering system was fitted on most models. Operating a "lock-level" between the front seats made the steerable rear axle turn sideways to a certain angle.
The single most important and iconic military vehicle to be designed and built by Hanomag during World War II was the Sd.Kfz. 251 half-track (commonly called simply "the Hanomag") with a total production numbering just over 15,000. Built to …