Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S02 ep6 : Friedhelm Wiesmann, Wisemann Roadsters, [Germany]
Interview with Friedhelm Wiesmann
KG LIVE YOUR DREAMS In 1993 the first series-produced Wiesmann-Roadster saw the light of day. In 2007 Wiesmann develops and manufactures two Roadster models: the MF 30 (231 PS) and the MF 3 (343 PS) EXEPTIONALLY OUT OF THE ORDINARY The success of our concept to create a synthesis of classic design and ultramodern technology has encouraged us to develop a new small series model, the Wiesmann GT (BMW-V8 engine, 367 PS)
FW: My parents had a car business so we load up with cars in Germany yeah so I was in the factory
and my brother Martin is an engineer and businessman and we came together and we wanted to do
something in the car business, but did not want to be normal car dealers so we made up plans what
can we do, first we thought about racing but at the end started to do this project and it is now 23
FW: After three years we decided to do another business beside to earn money for this, so we
started to product hard tops for convertibles. We started to do a hard top for the BMW convertible
at first as BMW could not deliver hard top so this was a good business, very soon we sold a lot of
hard tops all over all Europe then we started to do it for Mercedes for Audi for the Jaguar for
Volvo for Alfa Romeo and for Fiat and so on and at the end we had 13 different hard tops in the
program that was the base of our company so we one of the biggest hard top producers.
FW: It was then in ’89 when we started to do the hard tops and in ’93 the first car the Wiesmann
Roadster was developed.
FW: It was the next big problem. You have a no name product, nobody knows about it you have no
image you have nothing so the long, long hard way to promote it and we started with the tennis
players in Germany and this time the tennis players, the tennis was very popular in Germany,
remember Boris Becker and Mick S___ and Steffi Graf and so on, and I went over to a tournament
in Hamburg at the Rotenbaum, I went in the intercontinental hotel and got the first park in front of
hotel and where all the tennis players lived in this hotel and so I can connect these players and we
came in contact with the journalists around and all the sponsors around and they did test drive of
the car and everybody said oh what a wonderful car, I never heard about it. And so it can contact
these people and especially the overseas journalists and people from TV and they wrote about the
car, they shot it on TV together with the tennis players and the young tennis players for sure they
interested in sport cars, they were young and rich here, that is a good combination ah, for sport
cars. From year to year it was better and better and later we went also to Formula One to promote
the cars and we did a lot of different exhibitions and events whatever so it was a long way.
FW: That is impossible for a small company to spend it in the classic way so you have to make up
your minds about special ideas when you have no budget you have to be very creative.
FW: My brother Gidit he was the engineer he was a man who led but we discussed about
everything yeah. I had to look for, to finance all this. And we decided to do it in this way as we
had, we knew we have no chance to do a modern car. There are a lot of modern cars on the market
and every three, third or fourth year you have to change everything so you throw away all the tools
and the, you have to do new, it is impossible.
FW: We designed the roadster first one in ’87 and this is 21 years ago from today, but if you see
the roadster now okay it is not the same like 20 again but the most of the car is the same you know
the design, but nobody says this is, can you sell the car after 20 years, it is all why, as we built is in
this design you know, it is like the Morgan you know they build it since 50 years.
FW: But we have also BMW dealerships in my family yeah so we are near contact with BMW but
second is if you do something like this and you are a German company you have the choice if you
have the choice you can take Mercedes you can take Audi or BMW. So we decided to do it with
BMW as we had the best contact to BMW and is a very good technique, one of the best in the
world I think so it was okay.
FW: Theoretically there is a very good combination to have an engineer and a businessman but it
is sometimes not so easy you know, there is a different thinking. Engineers want to do the best
what they can do and so they don’t think about money, they don’t think about time and the
business man thinks a lot of money and a lot of time as time costs money yeah. And so you have
some discussions for sure.
FW: I am in marketing and also so I look in the market and I want I have a feeling for the market I
think and so I have to tell him my ideas from the market view and he tells me his ideas from the
___ view and then we have to calculate yeah and somebody we have to make sometimes
compromise. But at the end we know he needs me, I need him.
FW: It is a big pleasure to do it when everything around is going well you know. And that is not
every day that, the fact. But normally it is a very special thing you know, there are not a lot of
private companies doing cars yeah so it is something special yes.
FW: The most difficult thing was to get motigation for the car, certification from the German ___
that was a long, long way and a very, very expensive and very complicated way, never expected
this as we knew before, maybe we would never start yeah, it was really, really hard to fulfil all
these regulations that they asked for.
FW: When we started ___ the company was low so we had to do it in Germany as we knew the
most important market for us is Germany yeah so we have to have our motigation for Germany so
we have to start there. But it was very, very difficult, very expensive and cost us a lot of not only
money but nerves. Thank God that we could do a lot of crash test computer simulation in this time
yeah, if you would do it today and you start from zero today this is much more difficult and much
more expensive than it was 20 years ago, but it was hard enough 20 years ago.
FW: The roadster it starts with one ___ and two in tax, we have 19% tax in Germany and touring
tax and then it’s a question of options you want, the GT and the 4 with 4.8 in the 8 cylinder engine
cost 116,900 including tax, includes options and our new model, the MF5 is 550 engine V10, 575
horsepower it is about 179,000 Euros including tax.
FW: This year we will do at the end 250 cars and the rest, 2-3 years we want to do 350 cars a year,
end of this year we will have also right hand drive so we will go in other markets for sure where
they have right hand drive and so at the end without America, except America we will do 350 cars
a year and then we think about America but you know it is very complicated, obligations,
certification, product liability and also the exchange rates problems is something you cannot
calculate so a lot of problems with America but at the end there is a very good market.
FW: As you know we are producing cars by hand, it’s a very difficult way of producing cars, it
does not fit together with big companies but you never know what happens in the future.
FW: There are some very special orders, we have a German actor, very popular in Germany and he
wanted to have a car in a very, very strange colour and inside with a special Indian stones you
know, I don’t know the word, to organise those from India and it was a disaster to get it, but he
wanted to have it, it was very strange, it looked a little but funny but it was a friend of his and so
we did it yeah.
FW: It was not a funny story, but we did a very special car here for Prince Albert of Monaco in the
Monaco colours and he was promoting with this car the special Olympics, you know special
Olympics and he used the car for 7-8 months and at the end came in an auction, the price for the
car went in the budget of the special Olympics so we did some strange things also with the
Formula 1, we did this sabotine many years ago when the L___ were driving there and we had to,
they had to film Alexi in this one roadster in Barcelona during the test days and he had a lot of
problems doing testing for Formula 1 and he was angry and he did not do the filming with us so we
drove from Germany to Barcelona with the truck and he said no I have no fun, went off, so he
could discuss with ___ a second driver in Formula 1 and this team and he did the filming and at the
end all the film movies showed in Germany and outside of Germany in the beginning of Formula 1
races only Dinas was in the car, always Dinas and at the end the miniature of Alexi was very angry
with me, he said why, why only Dinas is at the TV in this car, why not Alexi, Alexi is the first man
in the sabotine, I said oh sorry, he did not want to drive so then we had to do it immediately.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Friedhelm Wiesmann, Wiesmann Roadsters, Germany