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Revision as of 21:45, November 10, 2009

Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug GmbH
Type Subsidiary of General Dynamics Corporation
Founded 1864
Headquarters Steyr, Austria
Key people Hans Michael Malzacher, CEO
Industry Defense
Products vehicles, weapons

Steyr-Daimler-Puch was a large manufacturing conglomerate based in Steyr, Austria which was broken up in 1990. The component parts and operations continued to exist under separate ownership and new names.


The company was founded as Josef und Franz Werndl and Company in 1864 as a rifle manufacturer, but became known as Steyr-Werke AG in 1924. The company began producing bicycles in 1894, and Steyr automobiles in 1915. The first Steyr cars (Type II) were heavy and well-built, if a little cumbersome; soon however it developed sports versions with an impressive list of international achievements.[citation (source) needed] The small but luxurious 1.5-litre six Type XII of the late twenties won international motor press acclaim.

In 1934, Steyr merged with Austro-Daimler-Puch to form Steyr-Daimler-Puch. The range produced in these years mainly consisted of very modern designs, sporting partially or complete unit construction bodies in streamlined livery, from the 1.200 ccm Steyr 50 to the 2.3 liter 220 six.

During World War II Steyr-Daimler-Puch used slave labour notably in the Mauthausen-Gusen camp complex at Gusen like all other larger German companies including Mercedes-Benz and M.A.N., etc. during that time; the product range was for military use, including the Steyr RSO Raupenschlepper Ost with an air-cooled 3.5 liter V8 engine, designed by Ferdinand Porsche who worked for Steyr-Daimler-Puch at that time.

After the war Steyr-Daimler-Puch built Diesel engined trucks and buses, small and heavy tractors and also resumed passenger car production. First Steyr assembled the Fiat 1100 E, then put their own engine in a FIAT 1400, renaming the car the "Steyr 2000". From 1957 till the early seventies it produced the tiny Puch 500 under license from FIAT, again with an engine of Austrian design.

Most prominent, however, was their range of off-road cars, from the two-cylinder Haflinger and the heavy 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 Pinzgauer to the Mercedes-Puch G.

The company produced a line of motorcycles and motor scooters marketed in the United States through the Sears Roebuck company. The Austro-Daimler branch built heavy tractors and trucks for the imperial Austrian army (before 1915). The main civilian agricultural tractor production started in 1947.


The conglomerate was broken up in 1990, with Steyr Tractors being sold to Case Corporation, Puch's motorcycle division going to Piaggio, Steyr Mannlicher producing weapons, and Steyr's automobile production combined with Magna as Magna Steyr.

The diesel engine division was spun off into STEYR Motorentechnik GmbH, which in 2001 became an independent company, renaming itself Steyr Motors GmbH.[1]

SDP was the initial designer and manufacturer of the utility vehicles, the Haflinger, produced from 1959 to 1974, the Pinzgauer, produced from 1971 till 2000 and the Puch G produced from 1979 which is also known as Mercedes G-Class.

In 1998 the production of military vehicles was sold to an Austrian investment company which then sold the company called Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug GmbH (SSF) in 2003 to the US-company General Dynamics a defence equipment manufacturer.

Notable vehicles

The Eastbourne Redoubt Museum possesses and displays General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim's Steyr 1500A Afrika Korps Staff Car. It was captured by the Royal Sussex Regiment. The explorer László Almásy used Steyr vehicles to explore the Sahara in the 1920s and 1930s. He is the basis of the lead character in the English Patient.

See also


External links

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