1946 Jawa Perak: First-gen Perak built during WWII & a Czech superhero’s contribution to its name

Jawa Perak has come a long way since its inception during a time when the Jawa production facility was forced to manufacture armaments under the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia during World War II.

By:Updated: Jun 08, 2020 5:18 PM

jawa perak 1964 world war ii

Jawa Perak – one of the three motorcycles that marked the Czech motorcycle manufacturer Jawa’s return to the India market after a hiatus that stretched for decades. While we are familiar with the name and a lot of us have had or still have a classic Jawa in the family, Jawa was once caught in a war and lived through to tell the tale. Jawa Perak is not a new moniker for the manufacturer. It was first used back in 1946. The Perak was the result of Jawa Motorcycles founder František Janeček’s perseverance to keep working on a new Jawa in a country affected by war.

‘Ja’ of Janeček and ‘Wa’ of Wanderer Werke AG created the brand as we know it today – Jawa – in 1929 with the first motorcycle to roll out being the Jawa 500 OHV. Fast forward to 1939-45, the outbreak of World War II put a pause on the production of Jawa motorcycles.

Although the Jawa factory was forced to make armaments under the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, Janeček kept working on a new project in secret. This was the motorcycle line-up that would go on to be called the Jawa ‘Perak’. Janeček mounted SS stickers on his bikes and coated them in the same shade of green as the Nazi German vehicles to continue with the testing.

Janeček breathed his last after fighting a long-term illness in 1941. His son Karel took over the business and continued to work on his father’s designs, bringing the Perak to the public eye at the 1946 Paris Motor Show.

With plunger suspension in the rear, telescopic forks upfront, a square-section steel tube frame, and a multi-disc wet clutch integrated into the gearbox, the original Jawa Perak allowed clutchless gear shifts. Designed by J Josíf and J Krivka, the Perak was powered by a new 249cc two-stroke single-cylinder engine.

Jawa Perak history

There’s a lot in a name

The name goes back to an urban legend originated in the Czechoslovakian city of Prague during the German occupation of then-Czechoslovakia in the midst of World War II. Perak or ‘The Spring Man’ was a name given to a man who was said to leap out from the shadows and startle passers-by. The Spring Man later was believed to have fought the Nazi army by blowing up military vehicles and defending the residents of Prague. The legend soon came to be associated with hope against the ongoing oppression. In the decades following the war, Pérák has also been portrayed as a Czech superhero.

Also read: Remembering Royal Enfield ‘Flying Flea’: Super lightweight RE125 that helped English troops during WWII

Perak lives again

Jawa Perak now retails alongside the Jawa and Jawa Forty Two in India. The most affordable bobber motorcycle in the country, it is now powered by a 334cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder DOHC engine that makes 30 bhp and 31 Nm of torque and is paired with a six-speed transmission. The Perak is currently priced at Rs 1,94,500 (ex-showroom, New Delhi).

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