Walter Wyss W2




Young, very talented Swiss automotive engineer Walter Wyss developed and created this unique automobile in the early 1930’s.

Walter Otto Wyss created three very unique cars in his career. Two of them while he lived in Switzerland before 1939, and one after he had moved to the US. We will highlight all three of his automobiles here on the Custom Car Chronicle and start with his second car the “W2”. The reason to start with his second car was because this car linked me to Walter Wyss the photographer and triggered my interest in this very interesting person.

Walter originally wanted to production the cars he developed for buying customers. However after creating his second car, the W2, Walter realized Switzerland might not be the ideal place to produce such an typical Custom Sports Car. There simply was no good market for his dream project then and there. Walter abandoned the idea. After a tragic accident Walter decided to leave his beloved Switzerland and move to the US to try and find his place in the blooming automotive industry. He ended up working for Ford, Chevrolet and would later, in the 1940’s, be head of a team developing a Hybrid car of his design in Wichita.

The Walter Otto Wyss W2

Walter Wyss was student engineering in Zurich, Switserland when he started to work on his cars. To be able to construct the cars he had in his mind and sketched on paper, he re-modeled his parents two car garage into a well equipped workshop. The W2 as Walter named his second car was constructed over a period of two years. Walter started sketching his W2 in the early 1930’s, once decided on the rough shape of the car, he created several small models from wood, clay and metal. He used these model to find the right proportions and most desirable shapes.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-01One of the wood/clay.metal models Wlater created before he started the real car. The distiggtive teardrop shapes on the fenders are still missing here.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-12A section of Walters workshop in which he could create any part he needed.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-15Walter posing with the finished Chassis. This photo shows how low it sits.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-02When the chassis was completed it was time for the body. For this Walter used cardboard and bed sheets to create the shapes he was looking for. Once completely satisfied he started to create the body from sheet metal and possibly aluminum.

Walter picked an 1.1 litres, twin overhead camshaft Salmson race car engine for motivation. An old frame from old wrecked American car was cut up and reused as a backbone rectangular frame. An Peugeot rear axle was installed in the kicked up rear portion of the frame. Walter designed and created his own independent front end. Two small radiators are mounted on each side of the frame, next to the engine. This allowed Walter to create a very low body-line. The teardrop shape is the overall theme of the body. An really unique feature are the front fenders which are fully concealed. To stream line the front even more Walter created separate tear drop shaped extension behind the front wheels. The rear fenders were created with the same teardrop shape. A low windshield sits rather straight up on the cowl. There are no doors in the car. Walter wanted the car to look and feel as race car as possible so the body sides are cut out very low for easy access. The interior was upholstered in leather and can house four people. The back seat is completely removable to access the rear axle and suspension.

Once completed the Walter Wyss W2 drove really great, only the engine ran a little hot from time to time. So Walter used some photos of his W2 and started sketching a version with a taller grille on the front of the car. The new grille worked well with the design of the car and cooled the engine perfectly. The low center of gravity of the car gave it perfect driving qualities.

Walters W2 is an interesting mix of Custom styling, combined with Sports Car and Coachbuilt design elements. Perhaps the car would have been a success if he had decided to bring it to the US in 1939. At least we know that he brought many photos and albums of his two hand built cars when he moved to the US. So those must have helped him in his US career in the Automotive industry.
As far as we know the W2 does not exits anymore. The Wyss family looked for the car, but found no evidence is was still around. The car was sold at one point, but with Walter in the US, no effort was taken to keep in touch with the new owners. Nobody really knows what happened with the car.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-03The work on the W2 is almost finished. The body is all shaped and only missing paint and details. This must have been quite a spectacular sight on the streets of Zurich, Switzerland in 1935.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-05This photo of the freshly finished car shows the front suspension and the small radiator behind it. For the era the car was extremely streamlined.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-06The rear of the body is wonderfully streamlined into a boat tail shape. The huge Swiss license plate frame affects the lines quite a bit.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-07Side view with the soft top up.


CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-08When the two small radiators on the side of the frame proved to be insufficient to cool the engine Walter made several new designs using some of the photos he hat taken of his car.


CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-11The later version of the W2, with the reshaped nose with radiator added in front of the engine. The top could be folder up partly to create an half open top.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-10Tight, but it was possible to fit four people in the W2. Walter, on the right, giving some instructions to the driver.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-09The rear three quarter view is particular attractive.

CCC-Walter-wyss-W2-14A full page of one of Walters photo albums he put together about his W2. The top row and a few other photos, show Walters car parked in front of his workshop.


The Autocar magazine published a full page on Walters W2 in the March 27th, 1936 issue. Walter had this article reprinted for promotional usage.

[box_light]For more articles on the Amazing Walter Wyss check out the Section on the CCC-Site we have created for his amazing work. With special thanks to Tobias Wyss for supplying information and material from the Walter Otto Wyss Collection.[/box_light]





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Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

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