Beyond My Wildest Dreams by David Manthey | Retro Review
The MÜNCH Mammoth (Mammut) is rather like Sasquatch; a lot of us have heard of it, but not many have actually seen one, let alone rode or owned one. Though the bike had been produced in Germany for a number of years, the number of machines produced was small. So, a little background on the MÜNCH motorcycle.
In 1956, Friedel Munch acquired the motorcycle manufacturing operation of the German Horex brand. With that infrastructure, he began designing and building small numbers of bikes.
By 1966, he introduced the prototype of his “MÜNCH Mammoth; a massive-looking road bike worthy of its name powered by the, 1,000cc in-line four cylinder, four-stroke, air-cooled engine built by NSU for its Prinz model automobile.
In 1977, MÜNCH continued to build bikes with larger engines marketed in limited numbers under the name MÜNCH Titan. By the early 1980s, the brand was out of production.
Despite suffering a stroke in 1991, MÜNCH battled back and designed the state-of-the-art update to his original Mammoth called the MÜNCH Mammoth 2000. Between 2000 and 2002, 15 of the new bikes were built.
In 2009, the MÜNCH Motorrad Technik GmbH entered the e-bike field complete with an effective racing program. The MÜNCH e-bike racing team successfully defended its TTXGP world title in 2011 and won the TTXGP European Championship, the FIM International championship and the Constructors’ Championship, the FIM e-Power. Learn more about MÜNCH motorcycles.
So, back to the book, Beyond My Wildest Dreams, by David Manthey with May Johnson and Amy Johnson. What does this iconic motorcycle brand have to do with Wisconsin’s David Manthey? It makes for quite a story, told in an easy conversational style, as though Manthey is sitting in your garage with you telling the tale off the cuff.
Manthey tells of growing up in Portage, Wis., learning mechanics the old fashioned way—by cobbling junk parts into working bicycles, go-carts, minibikes and finally motorcycles and cars. After hobbling along and having a near-death experience or two as a teenager riding in progression, a Sears moped, a 1949 Whizzer, a Sears Puch “twingle,” a 1963 Bianchi, a 1937 Knucklehead, a 1951 H-D ’74, a ’49 Panhead and others, he finally discovered the machine that would drive a passion: the MÜNCH Mammoth. He didn’t actually see one; just advertising in a motorcycle magazine.
After starting his own motorcycle repair shop in Portage, Manthey found out about a used Mammoth for sale in nearby Madison, Wis. He sprang at the chance to own the bike of his dreams, though he feared it could end up being an expensive nightmare when he went to see the bike only to find it a basket case. Undaunted, he bought the thing as-is and managed to put it back together without the assistance of so much as a shop manual.
Manthey’s Mammoth bore serial number 201 and after 36 hours of near-nonstop reassembly, he had the bike back together with no parts left over and no parts missing. It was time for the first ride:
“Shaking (after one and a half days of wrenching and a case of Mountain Dew), it was time for the maiden voyage. I could hardly get all my ducks in a row, but it was time. The sun just peeked over the trees as I kicked it in first gear and eased the clutch, wondering if Mr. Assembly performed his job to the standards demanded by such a machine. I was absolutely amazed at how different this thing ran. The torque was unreal. The handling could only be described by a more eloquent MÜNCH owner with better words than I have. All the other motorcycles I ever played with were nothing compared to this.”
Having succeeded in getting the Mammoth back on the road, eventually, it needed repairs; namely a transmission seal and transmission parts, none of which could be had in the U.S. Amazingly, Manthey went to Germany, looked up Friedel Munch and bought the parts directly from the man himself! On a return trip to Germany, Manthey came back with huge suitcases stuffed with more parts again procured with the help of Munch himself.
After organizing the first Munch Owner’s Rally in the United States in 1989, Manthey received a stunning phone call one night. Jay Leno was on the line and he was interested in getting a Munch Mammoth for his collection; and he said he heard Manthey was the Munch man in the U.S.
Manthey not only came through with a Munch for Leno to add to his collection, it was a 1966 model—the second bike ever built by Friedel Munch. Manthey and his buddy, Dave Tucker delivered the Munch to Leno in California personally, hauling it in the back of a station wagon. Meeting Leno proved to be a major experience in itself.
Manthey’s association with Munch led to more trips to Europe, more motorcycles, meeting Alan Cathcart, and some adventures of a lifetime.
One of the things Dave Manthey included in his book is a reminder that goes beyond the story of his passion for the Munch motorcycle:
“As we all know, there’s never enough time in the day to get all the things done that we really want to do. Only the Keeper of Time, ourselves, can determine what we do every day, so we better treasure every minute we have before we run out of minutes.”
David Manthey died in March 2008 in his home town of Portage, Wis., but through his book, we know he lived a life that went beyond his wildest dreams.
- Title: Beyond My Wildest Dreams
- Author: David Manthey with May Johnson and Amy Johnson
- Published: 2000, paperback. 55 b/w images.
- Publisher: Big Boys Toys, 432 E. Cook St., Portage, WI 53901
- ISBN: 0-9678828-0-X
Rider’s Library—note to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature here may be out of print and some may be difficult to find. That could be half the fun. The Internet should make the search relatively easy but ironically, none of the books currently scheduled for eventual retro-review for the Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the Internet. They all were found at book stores, used book stores, antique shops, motorcycle shops, yard sales and so on—or as in this case, provided by a great lady, Amy Sprecher whose late father, Junior Sprecher received a signed copy from co-author, May Johnson. The Sprechers own Sprecher’s Bar in Leland, WI, the end point for the twice-yearly running of the Slimey Crud Motorcycle Gang Café Racer Run, which Manthey participated in with his MÜNCH Mammoth.