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Suzuki Motor España

Antonio Cuadra, a motor journalist from Spain was kind enought to tell us about the history of Suzuki Motor España as he knows it.

Puch Suzuki Puch-Suzuki Suzuki-Puch

At the beginning of 1983, Puch Austria signed a contract with Suzuki in order to produce Japan-designed motorbikes and scooters in Europe. There were two Puch factories in Europe, in Austria (main factory) and a filial in Gijon (Asturias) in Northern Spain called Avelló. At the Spanish factory, Puch produced 50 cc mopeds and 75 cc trail motorbikes (and a cross version too), the last one called Cobra was a success for 15-16 year youngsters with an A-1 driving license (maximum 75 cc). Previously, Avelló produced MV models of small cylinder volume under Italian license.

I don't know which Suzuki models were made at the Puch factory in Austria. I think the Lido 80 and 125 cc models were assembled there but I'm not sure. However, I am quite sure of the Spanish connection because I lived it. The alliance between Suzuki and Puch gave its first fruit made in Spain in 1984: the Lido Vario (Suzuki model code CP). This scooter was sold in Europe with different names: Puch Lido Vario, Suzuki Lido Vario and Puch-Suzuki Lido Vario 75 in Spain. The 75 cc was made for the A-1 Spanish market. At other markets like France and German it was called 80 (rounded up, but actually 75 cc). This engine was made in Japan and the model was an evolution of the Japanese Suzuki Shoot 50 (1982-1983). Here's a picture of the model:

Suzuki Shoot 50 (1982-1983)

Suzuki Shoot 50 (1986 year's model)

I am not sure but I think that in 1986 Puch-Suzuki Spain produced the Lido 50 (CP 50) for the European market (except Spain) with an engine made in Italy by Garelli based in the original Japanese.

At 1987 Puch became a part of the Piaggio Group and Suzuki bought the Spanish filial. Under a period of two years Piaggio let Suzuki use up all the old material from Puch. During those years Suzuki produced the Suzuki Condor 50 a Puch Condor III 50 clone, a popular trail moped in Spain.

The Puch Suzuki models available in Austria were: Puch Lido 50, Puch CD 125 and Puch Lido Vario. Puch said they were involved in the development of the transmission. As from 1988 these Scooters were sold under the name of Suzuki.

In 1989 Suzuki Motor España (the new name of the Avelló factory) offered new 50 cc models: Maxi, Lido and DR Big.

Maxi is similar to the old Puch Maxi, a moped with automatic transmission (it's not a not scooter, it don't have a front shield) powered by Franco Morini engine with CVT transmission and secondary chain drive.

The Suzuki Lido 50 was, at last, Spanish. According to the Spanish law mopeds must weight less than 66 kg and they must have pedals in order to convert them in a bicycle when out of petrol. There's also a totally absurd rule (in order to protect the Spanish moped industry - Derbi, Piaggio Moto Vespa- from the Italian industry). - the transmission may only have up to four speeds! For this reason the Lido 50 has the pedals (you can see the chain at the right side) and it didn't have any battery, starter engine or back-carrier - in order to end up under the weight limit of 66 kg. After the purchase, the user added to his Lido 50 the three elements mentioned (in Spain we say ”they made the law, we made the trick”).

The third 50 cc vehicle in 1989 was really new model. It was called DR Big 50 (better ”Little”) inspired by the DR Big 750 (after 800 cc) the single cylinder biggest trail bike in the world. DR Big 50 was designed by an Austrian Puch engineer living in Gijón. I can’t remember his name but after this work he was to design at Taiwan for PGO.”
(See the notification in the box below!)


The claimed fact that the DR Big 50 should have been designed by an Austrian engineer in Gijon appears to be false. Pablo Millet from Yamaha Motor España contacted me in October 2004 and told me that an Austrian engineer (Pablo couldn't remember his name) indeed the engineering dept. manager, in collaboration with a Japanese responsible, but not the designer of the DR Big 50. Puch (and Puch-Suzuki) styling and frame designer at that time was a Catalan designer from Barcelona , Pablo's own father Felip Millet Busquets.

Pablo tells that Felip Millet Busquets was Suzuki Spain designer until 1994, and he the designer of most of the Puch-Suzuki models made in Avelló under more than twelve years. His most important designs were the Puch Monza, Puch Condor, Puch Maxi, Suzuki Address, and the DR Big 50.

He was also designer for Mototrans-Ducati (Twin, Vento, Senda, Pronto, Forza) and designer and Prototypes & Racing manager at Montesa (Mini 50, Scorpion 50, Brio 50). Felip's son Pablo is now Yamaha styling designer in Spain . ”I must thank my father for that” he says. I thank Pablo for telling us all this!

The engine of the DR Big 50 was a Franco Morini GS with four speeds, but the cylinder, piston and the cylinder head were made in Spain (the first series of DR Big suffered from a poor cylinder and piston quality).

The Puch Suzuki Lido Vario 75 became Suzuki Lido 75. The model was competing with Piaggio Vespa PK 75, Peugeot SC 75 (an adaptation of the SX 80 for the Spanish market) and Honda Vision 75 Met-In (an adaptation of the Vision MI 50) and Scoopy 75 (the same adaptation from the 50 model).

In 1990 Suzuki launched the Lido Style 50 and 75 in black colour. The 50 cc version was unchanged except for the colour, the 75 cc version got even disc brake at the front and digital instrument panel (the first model in Spain).

Suzuki launched even the Minicross 50. This model based on the DR Big (same chassis and engine) but had different plastic details, muffler under the engine and cheap suspension in order to get the lowest price. This model was received very well in the ”deep Spain” by farmers etc. The Minicross 50 is still in the Suzuki catalogue in 2002.

In the beginning of 1991, Garelli went bankrupt and SME (Suzuki Motor España) lost his manufacturer of the 50 cc Lido engine. It made necessary to advance a new project, Address 50 (Suzuki model code: AH).

Suzuki AH-50 AH50

Suzuki Address AH 50 (1992-1995). Click to enlarge.

The production of Address 50 started in January of 1992. The new model was a European version of the Japanese Address with larger dimensions and slightly different engine, made in Italy by Franco Morini. The rear drum brake had a diameter of 120 mm instead of original 110 mm and had different brake shoes. The model sold well in Spain (about 15 000 units), a great success despite of the deep crisis worldwide. The Address 50 had a storage compartment for a helmet under the seat and had a large instrument panel.

In 1999 Suzuki Address 75 was launched exclusive for the Spanish market. It used the chassis of the Address 50. The front telescopic suspension and the disc brake came from Lido 75 Style. Address 75 had a long seat for two persons. The 75 cc engine was made in Japan. SME produced only 500 units of this model and never made any brochure of this model.

In 1994 SME paints the plastics of the Address and offers the Address P (painted) 50 with bright colours.The input of the air box filter was placed outside under the seat, in order to get a more air quality.

Also Address 100 got painted plastics as well as a long seat for two people. The 100 cc engine was manufactured in Japan and a new front with a linked swing arm suspension and a disc brake. The Spanish A-1 driver's licenses don’t permit to ride it. A-2 driver's license and age of 18 is required.

Suzuki launched also the Address DX 50 in 1994. It shared the front with the Address 75 (telescopic suspension and disk brake) and painted plastics.

Suzuki broke the relationship with Franco Morini (actually Morini manufactur a scooter engine based on Suzuki engine) and the production of the Address engine is located at Manzanares (Ciudad Real) in the middle-south of Spain. At this factory, Suzuki made even the transmission for the 4X4 cars like Samurai and Vitara - to be sent to the Santana factory in Linares (Jaén) located in Andalusia in the Southern Spain.

Suzuki made some changes to the DR Big in 1994 and DR W was born. A new chassis made it possible to fit the small crankcase liquid-cooled GS 30 Franco Morini engine. Aesthetically, the Suzuki DR W 50 gets a new frontal plastic that give a ”new look”.

Suzuki Adress Address R-50 R50 '95 -95

Suzuki Address R50 (1995—)

In 1995 it was time to burry the Suzuki Address and Suzuki Address R (Suzuki code: AP) to be born. The model names were almost identical but the concept was completely different. Address R had new plastic with the head light in the front shield and a new chassis but the new model didn't turn out the as successful as the previous model. The ”similarities” with the RF 600/900 brings at the end of 1995 a new version called Address RF with new decoration, new wider tires (120/90-10) and a new engine with long crankcase (to adopt big wheels). The same crankcase is actually used by Aprilia for the SR 50 and the new Scarabeo 50 DiTech with 16-inch wheels.

Suzuki Maxi dies in 1995 and born was the Suzuki Suzzy 50 (Suzuki code: NM), a moped with automatic transmission and a curiously designed chassis with twin headlights embracing the petrol tank, space for a helmet under the seat and a large scooter engine. There were two versions of the bike: one with electric starter and turning signals and the other without those luxury items.

Simultaneously SME presents RMX, a 50 cc trail bike designed in Spain powered by the same Japanese engine as the RG Wolf (liquid-cooled and six speeds) but manufactured in Manzanares. The design of RMX is, obviously, inspired by RM cross models. You can see at the brochures that the peddlers have disappeared and so has the 66 kg limit. The new generation of 50 cc is also designed for two people.

In 1997 SME offers only one Address version: Address R with the new large engine. In the scooter zone, the star is Katana 50 (Suzuki code: AW) offered in two versions: Katana 50 AC with the same air-cooled engine as in the Address R and Katana 50 W with liquid-cooled engine. Both models had single disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear.

In 1998 SME launches a new Katana with ”R” decoration, rear disc brake and 13" rear wheel.

Today SME offers models like SMX 50, a ”supermotard” based on RMX 50 that appeared in 1999, the Katana series were re-designed in 2000 with single optical halogen headlight instead of double ellipsoidal (I'll try to find pictures from Suzuki CD press), and the Burgman 125/150 (Suzuki code: UH) - the great white hope for SME in 2002.

Antonio Cuadra, March 2002

Antonio Cuadra writes articles for a Spanish scooter magazine called ”Fórmula Scooting”.
Brochure scans courtesy of Antonio Cuadra.

...and now they build even Marauders

Motor Suzuki Spain, branch of the Japanese constructor, has begun to produce ”real” motorcycles as well. SME has begun to make the GZ Marauder, a custom bike that until now was made only in Japan. The dicreasing sales of scooter and mopeds, products that have been SME's main product, had forced the company to make an effort to compensate the discreasing incomes, causes partly by the increasing insurance rates.
SME sold about half as many units compared to the record year 1999 and lies now at 1995 year's sales level (about 170 000 sold vehicles).

The new project required an investment nearly 1,4 billion pesetas in 2001. SME started the building of GZ Marauder 125 and 250, and even a new 150 cc model in October 2001 at Suzuki's facilities in Gijón.

SME plant Spanien fabrik Suzuki motorcycle moped scooter

SME factory in Spain, February 2002. Click to enlarge.

The Suzuki filial in Spain is planning to produce 36 000 units of the three different Marauder models for the Spanish home market and to 16 export countries. However, that volume is far from the the maximum capacity of the Asturian installation, a factory of 18 000 square meters inaugurated in 1993 and which they can leave annually up to 77 000 vehicles.

During year 2000, Motor Suzuki Spain reached a number of sales of 16,4 billion pesetas, amount that it anticipates to duplicate in four years.

Jarmo Haapamäki, March 2002


SME factory photo courtesy of Antonio Cuadra.

Some models built by Suzuki Motor España:
Address 50 brochures
Address R50 brochures
DR50 brochures
Address 100 brochures
Burgman 125/150 brochures

More: Worldwide Suzuki

More: All Suzuki models

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