Motorcycle trivia: What's a Pannonia?

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by roaddhist, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. Just having some fun with this-I bought one of these in 1971 in Chicago for $15 just so that, some time in the distant future, I could say that "I owned a Pannonia". Well, that distant future is now and I know that there are many incurable motorcycle enthusiasts out there so what say you, guys and gals? Anybody else out there ever met one of these? Hiko, David, Captain Slash, KZ, Ray23, anybody? I'll identify it in a later post if it's such a rare bird that nobody else can. :)
  2. OK-That was too easy. It would have been a brain teaser some years back but, as an afterthought, I Googled it and here you go:
    When looking for parts in Chicago back in 1971 I found an ad in the 3-inch-thick Yellow Pages of the time under "motorcycle parts" from the largest parts dealer in the city that advertised parts for "Pannonia". When I called, the counter person asked "Where the hell did you get one of those? Yeah, I got parts-come on down." After riding maybe 2-or-so hours from the far South side of the city to the North side and identifying myself as the guy looking for the Pannonia parts, he came out of the back with a shoebox containing a handgrip, a clutch cable and a brake lever and told me to give him $5 for the lot and get the hell out of there-that now he could take that stupid ad for Pannonia parts out of the Yellow Pages. Anyway, that's my Pannonia story-hope I didn't bore you with the details. Michael
  3. Never heard of Pannonia before, even Hungary doesn't ring a bell - just kidding! But Jawa is definitely well known for their high-performance engines in Europe. Friend of mine had a Jawa 350 two-stroke twin, it looked weird but ran like stink!


    Pannonia is a Hungarian motorcycle, manufactured between 1951-1975. The total output was 689.039 bikes produced. It was manufactured by the Csepel Factory and actually the same bike was manufactured starting from 1932 but named Csepel, maybe a little difficult name to pronounce…

    Pannonia had one cylinder models up to 350 cc based on the Jawa technology and later they copied the German Adler two cylinder models and their last models were very much up to Yamaha’s YD-lines since Yamaha copied the same Adler.

    Some sources say that Yamaha and Pannonia had plans on combined production in Hungary, but I have not been able to confirm this.

    Here you have a typical Eastern Block ad for one of the last Pannonia models.


    After they have changed the name to Pannonia they tried to introduce the brand on the US-market using the brand name WHITE motors. They had one quite nice Enduro bike:


    At the end Pannonia had a lot of good ideas and prototypes likes this 250 cc two stroke flat twin:


    The reason why I know quite a lot of this brand is that I have visited a few times the annual Pannonia Rally in Hungary and that I knew a Finnish guy called Matti Viro.

    Matti Viro, below was an ordinary school teacher first teaching in northern town of Rovaniemi in Finland and then until his death close to 70 years in 2003 in Pihtipuhdas in central Finland.


    Matti was an extra ordinary man. He spoke fluently Finnish, Swedish, English, German, French, Italy and Hungarian.

    His motorcycle interest started because his father was a middle ranked boss at a Finnish paper pulp/tree company and they were supplied with Harley 750’s in order to travel between the forest owners, checking the trees and making purchase deals. I must also mention here that these bikes (about 100 pcs) were in early 1950, as no value bikes, buried in a rubbish dump site and I know people who still are trying to find out which site…

    Anyhow Matti bought his first bike a Rudge together with his friend Eino Saarinen who later became the CEO of the Finnish Railways. Before this Eino Saarinen went to work for the importer of Csepelin and Matti bought his first Hungarian Pannonia bike. The relationship with this brand and him lasted for almost 50 years all the way until his death.

    Matti being fluent in many languages was also appointed by the Imatra Motorcycle Club to make all the driver contracts for the Road Racing World Champion Ships event at the Finnish Grand Prix Imatra.

    So Matti went every year with his Pannonia, one month before the races to Assen TT in Holland and camped at the circuit and talked to all the drivers to come to Finland. Being fluent in most of the languages he succeeded to make good deals. It was quite impressive to see Matti negotiating with “super stars” like Agostini, Phil Read, Charles Mortimer, Barry Scheene etc Matti wearing some partly broken pants and a many times repaired overall…..

    Matti didn’t only come along with these stars. He also managed to create a Pannonia Cult both in Rovaniemi and in Pihtipudas. Many of his pupils, maybe hundreds, bought Pannonias and learned under Matti’s supervision how to repair them and joined him on his travels. The used Pannonias in Finland costed next to nothing at that time. He created a small Pannonia society, which is still living also now after his death.

    I met Matti and his followers many time when I traveled with my bike in Europe. Typical for Matti and his “gang” was that they never used restaurants etc, they always made their own food. When traveling by the ferry to Sweden, a 12hours trip, they never went up to the bars and restaurants and they never had a cabin, they slept on the car deck and had their own food. They lived a very spartan life in accordance with Matti’s teachings. He was a humble man.

    But they drove with their Pannonias. I think that Matti must have done close to 1 million km on Pannonias.

    So this was again my short answer to a simple question.

  5. Thanks Hiko,
    The European enthusiasts have a much wider range of unusual motorcycle choices due to the many small manufacturers that existed there from time to time. You could often locate parts in a variety of countries and still get them shipped to you relatively inexpensively, whereas across the pond an oddball like this would eventually become a garage ornament due to the sheer difficulty and expense of keeping it running. After Googleing "Pannonia motorcycle" I came up with this page: ... =firefox-a
    On a You Tube video you can actually hear one run and one woman appears to have a 4 cylinder 2-stroke model-perhaps something produced near the end of production? Anyway, thanks for the responses and, thanks to the internet, my tall tale that the motorcycle brand existed can actually be proven and that "Pannonia" is not a medical condition.
  6. As a relative newbie to motorcycles, I'd been using Google to help fill my lack of knowledge about bikes. I've decided that Google is isn't the best source and in the future, I'll just ask HIKO! :D
  7. Hiko
    Thanks again - you're a motorcycle genius / encyclopaedia.

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