Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S03 ep2 : Sepp Melkus, Melkus Cars, [Germany]
Interview with Sepp Melkus
Heinz Melkus, driver and design engineer, created with the MELKUS RS1000 the first and only sports car of the former GDR. The great work of his grandfather fuelled the desire of Sepp Melkus to build his own sports car one day: in 2009 he presented the new MELKUS RS2000. Like its legendary predecessor, the MELKUS RS2000 is a lightweight sports car with racing technology. With its low weight and the powerful engine it combines the timeless elegance of design with unmatched driving pleasure. Only 25 individually tailored vehicles per year will be produced in masterful craftsmanship.
Melkus is a family with a large tradition in motor sports. My grandfather was the founder of the
company, he started racing in the 1950’s in East Germany and the second generation my father,
my uncle were also racing drivers and now I am the third generation who do this.
We are not only drivers, we are also constructors. The whole family, my grandfather, my father
everybody constructed their own racing cars.
The problem was in East Germany there were no BMW or Audi or anything like this there was
only the Trabant or the Wartburgs there was the Wall around the East Germany and nobody could
get over the wall or the borders to get any good engines.
Had to make the best out of this and use the S…book engine for example with 1,000 cubic and
made it around 100 horsepower out of it in 1960’s and that was a lot and because they had not that
much power they had to build very light cars, that’s the philosophy of the Melkus cars, very light,
powerful but with small engines.
The whole company was founded in the 1950’s my grandfather had a company who make training
for drivers, not racing driving, a driving school and it was a huge company with around 50
employees and the motor sport was only a hobby.
Our main point for this car was the development of the Melkus … 1,000 that was developed by my
grandfather in 1969, it was the start of the street legal Melkus cars.
It had also the gullwing doors and only 700 kg weight and around these 100 horsepowers from the
The Melkus brand and the name we were the only family or the only company who was allowed to
do this. That was a little trick. In 1969 the former GDR so the east part of Germany had 20th
anniversary, for that day he said I build a sports car with the parts from year and nobody could say
no. Finally they saw the car and it was beautiful, then the development and East Germany for cars
stopped. You know we had the Trabant the Wartburgs T1990 and there was no new development.
The wall breakdown on one side it was a great time because everything became free and on the
other side for the Melkus family was dragage time because we lost one member of our family, this
was the first son of my grandfather, my uncle Leigh Melkus, he was the one who was in the
footsteps of him, he developed the cars and was one of the best racing drivers in the former GDR.
He had a good contact to BMW and was invited for test drives for the DTM, the highest touring car
championship in Germany, Mika Hakkinen for example drove after his Formula 1 career so we had
good chances to get racing driver but he had an accident on the street then everything stopped, the
development of the Melkus cars stopped and the motor sports ambitions of course too.
My father founded the first BMW dealership out of this connections, this company raised and
getting bigger and so on, my father sold the company in 2006 and this was the start of the new
beginning of the producing of Melkus sports cars and the development of this.
At the age of eight years my father gave me a go-cart, six years go-cart to the age of 16, then I got
in the formula junior, formula BMW and then on the touring car championships in Germany so the
motor sports virus is also inside of me.
We had around three customers who want to have the old Melkus the RS1000 that my grandfather
developed in the 60’s and so my idea was to rebuild this car as replica like this and out of these
three customers it became five, and it became 10 and 15 at some point we said if we want to go on
we have to develop a new car and we started with this in 2007, similar looking, not in all details of
course, the philosophy is the same but the technique is completely new.
It’s a similar design it’s like a … sports car, it has the gullwing doors, it has a very good frame,
high torque, in the 1960’s it was steel and now it’s aluminium. In the 1960’s he used the chassis of
the w… car made it more … and now we use the aluminium one … out of the Lotus XE’s. Today
we have a two litre turbo engine four stroke from Audi.
The special things are the exclusivity of the car because we only build 25 cars a year maximum it’s
our limit. Every car is hand made in Germany and our manufacturing there are employees who
work since 30 or 40 years also for my grandfather and my grandfather’s and new employees who
learn from the old ones. If you come to us it’s a very special feeling to see these, this … on the car.
Of course it’s also the thing that you can use it on the street and on the racetrack so the customer
comes to us and he can choose from all colours from the world for the leather for the painting for
the steppings and for everything and so every car gets different.
We have around the same performance like the Porsche 911 turbo but it’s not a super sports cars
level like B… Porsche has six cylinder with around four litre and we only have four cylinder and
two litres but we are half or 500 kg less weight than a Porsche and that’s a good point because the
agility of the car is much better.
I’m the first time in Monaco here with this car on the streets here along the beaches and along the
hills that’s perfect, perfect for this car.
It’s a little bit of my grandfather inside of me and I had a dream to build my own sports car and
now here it is.
The most unusual thing was a customer of ours 1000 of the replica edition and he wanted a red car
and so we looked for a red shade he likes and one week later we get message from him and there
was a little bottle inside and it was filled with his blood and he asked us to put this little bottle of
blood inside the paint so his blood gets on the car, that was strangest thing I think.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Sepp Melkus, Melkus Cars, Germany