Motoring History of Koszalin – from Grade to Bałtyk

The Polish city of Koszalin was once part of Germany. Piotr Pluskowski charts the city’s motoring history.

Koszalin is an industrial town at the Baltic Sea. Since medieval times it was part of a German-speaking entity, Kingdom of Prussia, Germany etc. From the late 19th century it has developed rapidly – it even had an airport from 1908! The city was home to some motoring activities as well.

Hans Grade

Hans Grade was born in Koszalin in 1879. He grew up in a city of factories
and extensive technical infrastructure. In 1904 he launched a factory of motorcycle engines in Koszalin. Later he constructed an airplane – a triplane and in 1909, the “Libelle” monoplane. His later activities, including an aircraft factory and his famous cyclecar production took place elsewhere. You can read about Hans Grade in the second issue of Rare&Unique Vehicles, which will be out in March

Hans Grade (Source: Bundesarchiv)

Traugott Onnasch

Traugott Onnasch owned “Auto Pałac”, a repairshop which was developed into a proper dealership selling cars, trucks and motorcycles. He also owned a petrol station (ul. Morska) and lived at ul. Zwycięstwa 125, an elegant villa that still exists today

In 1924 he set up Fahrzeugfabrik Onnasch, which produced a three-wheeler, followed by an 8 PS family car. Touted as a the “German Ford” it was short-lived.


The post-war period of the automotive industry in Koszalin is also very interesting. In 1945, the First West Pomeranian Car Mechanics Cooperative was established, repairing trucks. In 1957, a bus called “Bałtyk” was built at the Car Mechanics Cooperative (SMS) workshop. The vehicle was structurally based on the chassis of the Polish Star truck, also using its engine. The bus resembled the old Star N-50 prototype from 1948. From 1959 Jelcz, a Polish commercial vehicle specialist produced the Czechoslovak Skoda 706 RTO Karos bus under licence. SMS switched to the Jelcz 043 chassis.

The body of the “Bałtyk” was self-designed. Two generations of this bus were created. In 1962, the cooperative was merged into the Union of the Construction Industry and its name has been changed to Fabryka Urządzeń Budowlanych (now Bumar Koszalin). This marked the end of bus production.

The main recipients of the “Bałtyk” buses were cooperatives and the army. The “Bałtyk” buses ran, among others, in the National Communication Cooperative in Poznań, which had the most of them, and in MPK in Lublin.
They were used to transport employees and tourists in Huta im. Lenin in Nowa Huta, Wool Industry Works in Bielsko-Biała, KWK “Michał” Siemianowice Śląskie and many other Silesian mines. Probably around 200 vehicles were built and several luxury versions. There are no survivors or documention available.

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