Redbull hangár

Redbull hangár

2014. február 8., szombat

Heavyweight beauties

Text: Gabriella, photos: Zoltán Berkecz, Béla Kovács, Szabolcs Simó

I’ve been planning for two years that I go to see the Csepel Vehicle- and Product Museum which is located at the border of Szigetszentmiklós and Szigethalom (Hungary) in an industry park. When I popped up this topic to the blog photographers, they were all enthusiast, that three of them joined me finally. Thanks to it, many shots were taken from different point of views and we enjoyed ourselves in the meantime. You can see it in the work photos' gallery.

When I told my family where I go, it has turned out, that one of my grandpas was working in this factory from 1962 till ’67. He assembled drive-shafts beside the conveyor-belt for a while, but mostly welded undercarriages in the experimental plant, for example for the butt cement carriers. Even more, my parents and my other grandpa drove those buses and trucks which were produced here. (My family is a chauffeur-dynasty, tank-driving is also included in the family history. Once I write this story too.)

My grandpa, standing in front of an Ikarus-31 in his bus driver uniform around 1960

Wings and wheels

A really authentic guide was waiting for us in front of the museum on the arranged day: Ferdinánd Konkoly who’s been working here since the September of 1963 so exactly 50 years. As he said, his parents already worked here. He started as a drawer, with defining the base points and planes of engine-blocks to cutting. Then he was group leader in the cutting plant for 4 years. He got to the documentary department in ’74 to a documentation editor where he was working till 1990. Then he worked for the marketing and trade unit. The liquidation of the Csepel factory has begun in 1992, different divisions have ceased during the following years. He was the leader of the trade department, when the factory was finally closed in 2002. In the March of the same year, ÁTI-Sziget Ltd. bought the 87 acres ground and employed Mr. Konkoly. He is working as a pensioner these days as a technical officer, participating in the upkeeping of the industrial park with his former Csepel colleagues. The foundation of the museum is related to the director, Mr. Mihály Fejős with the financial support of the Ltd. Mr. Konkoly are taking care of the museum, we have learnt the glorious past in his narration.

With Mr. Konkoly

And why are the brand and its products (mostly the trucks) are so special? Because the most of the vehicles was made with large variety of superstructures which reminded me to the Ferrari factory. We were told there (in the Ferrari factory), that the customer can choose even the color of the thread which is used to the leather seats’ sawing. Although, Mr. Konkoly thinks, that this “doing thousand things in the same time” manner redounded the factory’s decay. But I wouldn’t like to rush forward that much.

The vehicle- and product museum is in the building of the former transferring workshop. The customers’ mechanical engineers took over the finished trucks here. The drivers of the factory delivered the vehicles after the transmission.
The buildings of the Csepel factory served the production of very different vehicles in the past. Namely it was operating as the Danube Aircraft Factory during the II WW, the engines of Messerschmitts were made here. They were assembled with the airframe at the nearby Tököl airfield. The Csepel Automotive Factory was starting its operation in 3rd November1949 in those buildings, which survived the bombing.

The typical buildings with the sed- (saw tooth) roof which were built to the aircraft factory

The reason of its establishment was to provide Hungary with vehicles in order to restart the passenger and product transport on roads.  They produced complete truck constructions, but they made only the undercarriages of buses, their chassis were made by Ikarus (former Hungarian bus factory). The first complete truck rolled out of the factory in the spring of 1950. The production began with engines based on the Austrian Steyr license. (It’s interesting, that they bought many foreign license, but never sold their development ideas abroad.) The truck superstructures were designed by Hungarian developers. Products were exported to Egypt, Yugoslavia (on road) and Africa.

Csepel 613.10-type Diesel engine

Among the sand dunes and at the Tibetan Lama with Csepel

Business contracts with African countries was due to the success of Csepel's Ghana expedition in the ‘50s, which was something like a presentation and endurance tour when even the idea of the Dakar wasn’t existed. They traveled there with three D-344 trucks and an Ikarus bus. They welded an awning plate onto top of the trucks’ cabin in order to avoid the overheating, leaving some centimeters distance between them. They also applied a special air filter in the engine block against the sand.
They also got to Tibet in the scope of an international expedition in the 50’s, where the crew members met the Lama. The reliability of the truck there resulted Chinese orders, but unfortunately they were vetoed by the Hungarian politics, so there wasn’t any delivering there. But later, in the ’80s, Csepel technique was rolling on the roads of by China Hungarian buses.  Further international respect, that they exported bus undercarriages to Australia in the ‘90s. The body was built onto them out there, RHD, low-floor, city buses produced with different type variations. The agreement was about 105 pieces, but the factory went to bankrupt in the meantime, thus only 46 undercarriage were delivered.

Falling star

The decay began in the ‘70s.  In 1975, the leaders of the CMEA (Hungary was a member country) decided, that truck production cannot be developed in Hungary anymore. Instead of it, hey supported the innovation in the GDR for example, where the IFAs were produced. The Csepel factory made only bus undercarriages from that year. Here produced the most buses in Central-Europe. Although the Csepel trucks financial support has ceased, but its leadership and engineers started to work out improved truck undercarriage drafts in their respective areas. As the production of the Csepel engines was stopped, they put RÁBA (other Hungarian truck manufacturer) engines into the vehicles, the superstructures were made by different companies. Csepel cooperated with the Metz firm among others at the making of fire engines, but with the Finnish SISU too, who designed a still modern truck cab for them.
It is interesting, that they manufactured pistons to the Polish Warsava factory as well in the ‘70s. Even more, they had a fruitful cooperation with the American Cummins company in the ’90, who made heavy-duty standing engines. Csepel made a turning-set to implant them to vehicles in laying position.
But as I mentioned it at the beginning of the post, the decay of the factory was continuous and it has closed its gates by the beginning of the 2000 years.
What did remain from it? The equipment was sold, but the privately-owned power-steering department still exists, they are exporting mostly to Russia.

The vehicles which are standing in the museum are owned by private collectors, but Mr. Konkoly and his colleagues are searching for a Csepel 350 truck to the collection, which they could renew. And they would be happy for every support which enriched the exhibition.

The exhibited types – illustrated with photos



The D-344 was a military troop carrier and the most successful model of the brand. It's production was mainly in the '60s. they built 10.000 between '62 and '75, sold 8.5000 to the Hungarian Army from it, the others were exported to Egypt, Iraq, China, Syria. Using the same chassis the factory made other versions with different superstructures: with a fuel tank or with a closed superstructure which has several kind of interior for different purposes. This one was a moving fitting workshop (there were small lathes inside) for example, but a commander and a signal car version also existed. It has double tires to achieve a better cross-country skill.
My father drove its troop carrier version during his compulsory military service in the '70s. He liked that the engine could be started inversely, if it was pushed on the slope with standing engine, putting it to in reverse and switching on the ignition. Doing this, the gears could be used inversely: the vehicle had one gear forward and five gears in reverse, inbreathing the the air across the exhaust pipe. Unfortunately it resulted that it pulled out the oil pollution across the air filter and the most of the oil pollution subsided on the air filter. Once he started his Csepel on flat ground with putting it into neutral gear, pushing it in by himself, jumping into its cab and switched the ignition - just to win a bet. He also experienced, that the water can be easily overheated when he stepped on the throttle stronger. But he keeps good memories all in all and a mock-up of a D-344 is standing on his shelf. 

D-344 with a chemical discharge superstructure

The factory built a chemical discharge superstructure onto the improved chassis of the D-344 with D-346.07 type number and it's maybe unbelievable, but it is still in service at the Hungarian army, it helped at the toxic sludge disaster at Kolontár for example. Its 2.000 l tank is for storing chemical discharge fluids and it also has an oil boiler, which can be also used for water heating. It can be very useful at military exercises, because the 2.000 l tank contains water this time, what they heat up, and soldiers can get tidied up, outspreading a canvas beside the vehicle.




The D-566 was Csepel's most modern military truck, the worthy successor of the D-344. Hungarian engineers developed it within the Warsaw Pact. The 9.5 tons, all-wheel drive, 5-ton capacity, troop carrier truck has tilting cab and torsion suspension. Its specialty, that the flat tires can be inflated on the march. Western technical journals wrote, that how can a Socialist country afford to produce such a modern and expensive troop carrier like this. 313 pieces were built between 1967 and 1976. There was a version with crane also for military purposes, mostly the loading of ammunition and the lifting the heavy elements of pontoon bridges.


The interior of the D-705


 The D-705 bulldog-cab truck tractor with the nickname "Kázmér", produced from 1958 till 1975. Hungarocamion has an impressive fleet from this type, this vehicle is owned by its privy, the Wáberer company. Csepel's rural plants produced semi-trailers to it with different profiles, but the complete vehicles were assembled here.This exhibited vehicle is a petrol carrier, but there was also a milk carrier version and a 2 or 3 butt cement carrier.


582.72 crane truck, designed in the '90s With KCR crane and Cummins engine. It is owned by ÁTI-Sziget Ltd, still used.



 D-752 truck, still used to water carrying at road building. 


633.14 working bus chassis in low-floor, urban make. It remained from the Australian export, converted to left hand drive.The engine is Cummins, the landing gear is RÁBA, with C-500 power steering, automatic gearbox and retarder. They drove at a company event recently. 

VOLVO C-202 Laplander (the red mock up on the bottom shelf)
It was produced in Hungary, here were used as mine rescue cars and in forestries.

Ikarus buses with Csepel contribution

E92.20 midibus with Csepel chassis, this is the only piece, no more were produced.

E94.26G articulated bus with Csepel chassis

E94.25G prototype in original colors with Csepel chassis

Work-photos about our team, proving the enthusiast work:

Béla, Mr. Konkoly and Gabriella

Zoli and Béla

Szabi in action :-)