The 1973 Konig and Kim Newcombe
The Konig was based on a 500cc German water-cooled four cylinder two-stroke boat engine. First built in 1969 the prototype was mated to a Manx Norton gearbox and clutch. Power was usable between 7-9,000 rpm and the engine produced 68bhp.
In 1970 with Johnny Dodds as development rider and Kim Newcombe as engineer the Konig took a leap forward. Raced at the Assen TT that year it was giving 75bhp through a six speed Norton based gearbox. After much redevelopment the Konig appeared in 1972 at the Nurburgring with Kim as the lead rider. In the 500 West German GP the Konig proved exceptionally competitive beating the all-conquering MVs on top speed. Kim proved to a brilliant rider on the Konig which continued to be plagued by problems related to the gearbox and clutch arrangment, which was bodgy at best.
In 1973 Kim consistently placed well and was one point off winning the 500cc championship when he was tragically killed at Silverstone. The year ended with Kim posthumously achieving 2nd place splitting Agostini and Read.
The Konig was also successful in sidecar form with Rolf Steinhauser and Josef Huber becoming sidecar world champions on a Konig in 1975 and 1976.
Dennis Hanley has been so kind as to provide an update re Kim Newcombe and the Konig. A New Zealand group is producing a film on Kim. I quote from his latest email.....22 Aug 2004:
"Hi Muzza, thought you might be interested in these
shots from last weekend in Belgium at the Bikers' Classic.
This is the first time Janeen has ever been back to a race
meeting since Kim was killed in 73. It was a very special coming together for her &
her friends after 31 years. In a special part of the programme, Mark Newcombe & Renzo
Kim & Janeen lived in Berlin for 6 years in which time
he developed, made & rode the bike which in itself is a mammoth achievement & Mark
was born in Berlin in 1969.
Hope all is going well for you in WA.
Thanks Dennis and Frank, Mark and Janeen, much appreciated. Wish I could have been there.
From: Jeff Sawyers
Just read your website and thought I would write to you and impart my information on Konig engines.
In 1977 we were running a Weslake 850 in sidecar racing in the UK at national and international level. We were becoming totally outclassed and couldn't afford a 700 Yamaha which was what everyone was starting to use. There were three of us from York in England that travelled down to London to buy the new 750 Konig engines. They were Howard langham/Jeff sawyers, Chris and Malcolm Andrews and lan ward/Ted Fenwick(the classic racer). Howard and l had our Weslake chassis modified by Terry Windle at Thurgoland and tried the bike out.
We had a lot of problems with the 'rubber band' to drive the rotary valve where it turned 90 degrees and also with the porous crankcases that we had to seal with fibreglass resin. Even when we had the engines running, which entailed using starter rollers of the ford transit we used for transportation and copious amounts of 'whizz' (easy start for diesels), the performance was disappointing. We persevered for half a season but then due to spiralling costs we gave up. Howard started a bike shop in York and l went to Germany contracting for 5 years. When l came back to England in 1982 Howard had bought a TZ750 and we had another go for a few years until marriage took over and l jacked it in. lt's a shame because with 2 stroke knowledge being so much better now we could have solved a lot of problems. l believe that the 750 Konig was developed especially for use as a sidecar motor. l think that we paid about £700 for each of the motors in 1977 and used PGT gearboxes bolted to the water pan. l remember that when l lifted the motors out of the back of the car they weighed next to nothing. After picking up a Weslake engine they were very light.
Don Jarvie kindly provided this picture of Kim and the Koenig .....Don was a friend of the Newcombes from when they lived in Brisbane Australia.
Perry has recently supplied this photo of Kim...... taken at
Silverstone the evening before he was killed. Martyn says he spoke to
Kim for a short while about the Konig, and asked him to sit on the bike
for a quick photo.
Thanks Martyn for a historic picture and memories of the sad day.
Documentary on Kim Newcombein 4 parts
A documentary about motor-racer Kim Newcombe, who turned heads in the 70s on a König motorbike he developed and designed himself. He was killed racing in 1973 and posthumously came second in that year's World 500cc Grand Prix. The film mixes interviews and underdog triumph on the track scenes, with Super 8 footage of family life on the circuit, and poignant wife-of-maverick reflections from his widow Janeen. Love, Speed and Loss won best documentary at the 2007 Qantas TV Awards and Air NZ Screen Awards for best documentary, directing, and editing.
Courtesy : NZ ON SCREEN and
saw the articles about Kim Newcombe and Dieter König. At that time (
early 70’s) I was racing powerboats, class OC ( hydroplane hulls
powered by 4 cylinder, two stroke, rotary valve 500 cc König engines,
running with methanol). Kim had spent some time at König’s factory in
Berlin, and I understand that his arrangements with Dieter was that he
could set-up the König engine in his motorbike frame and work to build
some of the outboard engines. Actually, Kim had built two 500 cc
engines that I had bought from König, and they were really fast….
See the König Photo Gallery here