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Introduced: Munch Mammuth

The Munch-4 TTS 1200 film motorcycle

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The film "Mammuth" with the great French star actor Gerard Depardieu was released in October. The second star was a Munch-4 TTS 1200, built in 1969.

In spring 2009 motorcycle restorer and Munch specialist Mike Kron from Krautheim-Klepsau received the call from a French film company. You want one for a film project M.Rent a Mammut in its original condition and ask if he can provide a machine. Then there is radio silence for a while. The film company is also researching Munch owners in France and struck gold there. As it turns out, however, this is currently not available; its owner has it restored – by Mike Kron. So the trail leads back to the restorer in Germany. For a few weeks he didn’t hear from the film people and he had almost forgotten the subject when the phone rings again. Now everything should go very quickly, a van has already been ordered for the next day to pick up the Munch.

Originally, Mike Kron was supposed to come to the south of France for the duration of the filming or at least be available on call if problems should arise with the motorcycle. Because that is too time-consuming, the producer hires a French Triumph mechanic who specializes in classic English dishes. He drives the transporter the 1200 kilometers to Klepsau and is instructed by Mike Kron in the special features of the Munch Mammut. For example in the starting procedure: Munch has two ignition locks, one for the ignition circuit and the other for the lighting. Preparations for starting: After switching on the ignition, wait until the fuel pump has flooded the float chambers and its whirring stops. Then vigorously turn the throttle three or four times so that the accelerator pump injects fuel into the intake system. Only then operate the starter and keep the engine alive with a little gas until it runs smoothly. Otherwise it would quickly die off due to the lack of a flywheel. And of course don’t forget to activate the lights with the second ignition lock before you set off. A Munch is a special motorcycle and certainly not to be compared with a British twin.


The Mammuth’s 1200cc engine.

After compulsory, the freestyle follows, and the mechanic takes the TTS with him to France. So it happens that the red Munch-4 TTS 1200, built in 1969, called Mammut, is allowed to play a leading role in the movie of the same name – driven by the French star actor Gerard Depardieu. Or, to put it another way: Who owns a Munch on whose bench the French film star himself has left his imprint? Like Depardieu, Munch is also a living legend. In 1966, when Friedel Munch created it, it surpassed everything else with its performance, its massive appearance and last but not least with its weight of 245 kilograms. Other large motorcycles like a Honda CB 750, BMW R 75/5 or Moto Guzzi V7 were helplessly inferior to it, even before they were even created on the drawing board. In its first version, Munch drew 55 hp from the 1000 NSU Prinz unit. From 1968 Friedel Munch installed the 1200 engine and in 1972/73 – in time for the market launch of the 82 hp Kawasaki Z1 – he added another pound with the TTS-E with mechanical injection system. Now 96 horses lifted the 300 kilo colossus forward. However, with the change to the injection system, the intake noise of the Weber twin carburettors fell by the wayside, which is just as distinctive as the meat factory worker Serge in the film.

A man of mighty stature, played by Depardieu, whom they call "Mammoth" because of his motorcycle or because of his appearance – that is not very clear. Condemned to early retirement at the age of 60 and given a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle by his former colleagues as a farewell, the long-maned loner stands helpless. He doesn’t get on with his life, and probably never did, until his wife (played by Yolande Moreau) incited him to get the certificates of his previous jobs that were missing for the pension decision. This is the reason to pull your old Munch out of the garage – the red TTS 1200 – and take it on a journey into the past. A huge challenge in many ways. Serge puzzles his past together and the great Depardieu tries his hand at the no less powerful Munch-4 TTS.

The fact that the directors Benoît Delepine and Gustave Kervern granted the film hero the motorcycle from Hessian production shows that they are familiar with motorcycles or at least have dealt with the subject in detail. Of the Munch-4 with the NSU TT engine, only 478 copies were built between 1966 and 1980, and some had to undergo an individual conversion in the hands of their owner. The film company was looking for a Munch that was as original as possible for the shooting. And it is tailor-made for the “mammoth” Serge, one might say. Both are big, massive, powerful. Both latent radiate aggressiveness: Serge through his permanent dissatisfaction, the TTS through their rattling Weber double carburetors.


The super Dickmanns from the freshness box: Depardieu on the Munch-4 TTS 1200 from Mike Kron. When filming, he covered over 400 kilometers with it and had fun doing it, even if it doesn’t look like it here.

Film recordings were agreed while standing and rolling, the film company spoke of "driving recordings at walking pace". After completing all the work, Munch had a good 400 kilometers more on the clock. Depardieu seems to have taken a liking to the thick red, perhaps he has succumbed to her charisma, which is not unlike his own.

But he also had his difficulties. There is the gearshift that is on the left, but needs to be operated the other way around: he has to put first gear up, the following gear down. Depardieu, himself a motorcyclist, shifted from neutral – probably following the power of habit – down to second gear, and probably started several times with the clutch slipping.

So maltreated, the dry clutch became very hot, mainly because some scenes had to be repeated until it was done. As a result, the push rod ran in and the mechanic had to readjust the clutch several times. When that no longer helped, he finally requested a new push rod from Klepsau. As early as 1968, when Friedel Munch increased the output of the 1200-series NSU TT engine from the factory 65 hp at 5500 rpm to 88 hp at 6500 rpm, the dry clutch was overwhelmed. Munch eliminated the problem with a larger clutch with sintered linings.

In the film, getting the pension receipts gradually becomes a minor matter. Serge, alias Gerard Depardieu, finds himself on his journey with Munch. And his financial problems, not least the high loans for his house, resolve themselves at the end of the film. In one scene he is approached at an intersection and made aware that he owns a valuable motorcycle. When asked whether Serge would like to sell it, he replied with a resolute "no". But he later realizes that he is rolling through France on his pension. He finally thinks about it and calls the person who made him the offer. He sells his Munch to him and returns home to his wife.


The Munch-4 TTS 1200 is neither a diva nor a curve star. In the film she accompanies early retirees Serge on his journey through time.

Mike Kron now has some experience lending out motorcycle classics for film productions. For the first time in 1989 he brokered several two-wheeled classic cars for the multi-part series “Rote Erde II”, which is set in the Ruhr area. Most of the time, he also passed on the owners of the machines, as they know their own darlings best and know how to handle them. Depardieu seems to have got on well with Munch. But the restorer from Klepsau would have liked to meet the hand actor personally and talk to him about his experiences with Munch.

What impressions did Munch leave him, did he enjoy riding a motorcycle with her? Questions that go unanswered. Mike Kron is invited to Berlin for the premiere. He sees the film in French with German subtitles, the main actor only isolated by a large cluster of bodyguards. In the evening, crew members sit together over a beer in the hotel lobby and chat – in French. It’s almost like in a real movie.


The movie poster for the film "Mammoth" with Gerard Depardieu.

An artistic road movie with a claim. Direction and script: Benoît Delepine and Gustave Kervern. Cast: Gerard Depardieu, Yolande Moreau, Miss Ming, Isabelle Adjani. Released in German cinemas in September 2010, the film is expected to be released in German on DVD in March 2011 at XVerleih in Berlin. Recommendable!

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