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Get-together of Puch vintage cars marks inventor's anniversary

Juršinci, 24 June - Janez Puh (1862-1914), known as Johann Puch abroad, was a prominent Slovenian inventor and industrialist whose Austria-based factory was one of the leading vehicle producers in Europe at the start of the 20th century. His 160th birth anniversary will be marked at a gathering of Puch car owners at his home town in north-eastern Slovenia on Saturday.

Juršinci
A motorcycle designed under the Puch brand, established by Janez Puh (1862-1914), a leading inventor and industrialist at the start of the 20th century.
Photo: Compatriot Janez Puh Juršinci Association

Ljubljana
Janez Puh (1862-1914), a leading inventor and industrialist at the start of the 20th century.
Photo: Wikipedia

After making a name for himself with his bicycle and motorcycle production, Puh decided to branch out into car production at the turn of the century and developed more than 20 car designs as well as lorries, buses and military vehicles.

Cars designed under the Puch brand proved to be very popular, and some were even used by members of the Austro-Hungarian royal family.

The most successful vehicle was the Type VIII, which was considered the most reliable passenger and ambulance car during World War I and remained in use long after the end of the war.

Puh was born in village of Sakušak, now home to a museum dedicated to him and a pilgrimage site for Puch car enthusiasts.

Today's event there will also mark the opening of new exhibition spaces in the museum, which was founded in 2000. Managed by the Compatriot Janez Puh Juršinci Association, the museum is entirely devoted to Puh's life and work, including his products and patents, Vlado Slodnjak, the association's president, told the STA.

In addition to this one, there is also a museum in Graz dedicated to Puh's achievements.

The get-together is expected to attract many enthusiasts and owners of Puch vehicles from Slovenia and abroad, including twinned associations from France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Many Austrians are also sure to come who find Puh's heritage to be an iconic contribution to the development of the automotive industry.

Some 400 Puch vintage cars and other vehicles are expected to be showcased at the event. The highlights will be the world's oldest Puch moped, dating back to 1903, whose owner comes from Carinthia, Austria, and the oldest preserved Puch car, which is kept in the Technical Museum of Slovenia. It was made between 1914 and 1920 and later converted into a fire engine.

Puh's journey from a bicycle repairman to a pioneer car maker started off in Austria's Graz in the 1880s. Soon he set up his own workshop and manufactured a bicycle called Styria, which achieved excellent results in fiercely competitive international races and even won the famous race from Bordeaux to Paris.

He continued his successful track record in motorcycle and later car production. In 1906, a two-cylinder Puch motorcycle set a record in a race in France with an average speed of 77 kilometres per hour.

By the 1910s, his factory in Graz employed 1,100 workers and produced 16,000 bicycles, 300 motorcycles and 300 car per year.

Puh was also an active member of society, having founded youth scholarships and supported the arts.

Despite his death in 1914, his factory lived on and during WWI it was a major producer of military vehicles. It later merged with other Austrian vehicle manufacturers to form Steyr-Daimler-Puch, which remained a leading car and motorcycle manufacturer until the 1980s.

A total of 19 different patents of Puh are known so far, 13 of which are related to the field of road vehicle technology and six dedicated to typewriters.

Slovenia honoured the inventor with the establishment of the Puh Prize in 2018, which is given out for inventions, development achievements and the use of scientific findings in innovation.

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© STA, 2022