The Selve company, © Museum Hameln

The Selve company

Walther von Selve

N.N., around 1918

In 1917, Walther von Selve, a motor manufacturer from Altena, acquired the Norddeutsche Automobilwerke. In 1920, the first Selve models developed by the designer Ernst Lehmann replaced the “Sparrowhawk”, also produced during the First World War. These motors, which were manufactured in Altena and could reach a breathtaking speed of almost 100 km/h, were a guarantee of success at this time. 

Märkisch District Archive, Altena

Assembly at the Selve-Automobilwerke

N.N., 1920s

Matthias Waldeck

1,000 mark share in Selve Automobilwerke AG

Hamelin, 1921

Selve-Automobilwerke became a public limited company on 17.11.1921 and the first shares were issued. The firm thus gained completely new financial horizons. The “Golden Twenties” only lasted until 1926 for the Hamelin automobile industry, however. Then new and cheaper competition edged into the German market.

Item on loan: Christian Block

Four “Selve Selecta” vehicles in front of the Selve-Automobilwerke

N.N., 1928

Reinhard Burkart Archive

Illustrations from the advertising brochure “Selve, the best”

N.N., around 1923 

The Selve-Automobilwerke were defined first and foremost by the excellent quality of their vehicles, here proudly presenting a view of the factory on Ohsener Straße and the current model range. Information such as “8/32” refers to the engine performance: 8 stands for “fiscal horsepower”, which was typical at the time, calculated by cubic capacity and used for vehicle taxation, but the engine actually developed 32 horsepower.

Fair stand of “Selve-Automobilwerke” at the German Automobile Exhibition

N.N., around 1921

Newspaper “Motor”, September/October 1921

The Colibri

Hans Hilles, 1970s, N.N., around 1910

The Norddeutsche Automobilwerke (NAW) was founded in Hamelin in 1907. It manufactured the “Colibri” from 1908, and a larger model, the “Sparrowhawk”, from 1911. Even very early on, the models were distinguished by very high reliability, such that the “climbing” of the Brocken in the Harz mountains could be celebrated with a poster. 

Hilles Automobile Museum | Hamelin City Archive

Members of the Hamburg Automobile Club in front of the Selve factory in Hamelin

Blesius Studio, Pentecost 1923 

Hamelin City Archive

“A Selve vehicle recently delivered to India with a Hindu at the wheel”

N.N., 1922

Newspaper “Motor”, September/October 1922

Selve racing car

N.N., 1926

Paul Niehenke and Rudolf Meyer sit at the wheel of a 9/36 Selve in Bad Neuenahr and wait for the start of a motor race. Success at motorsport was extremely important at this time. It demonstrated what could by no means be taken for granted with vehicles of this era: Selve cars combined performance with reliability. 

Advertisement for the Selve Selecta 

N.N., 1928

“Selve Selecta. The choice of the best.” The new model was a symbol of the decline of the firm: Selve was categorised as belonging to the luxury class because among smaller cars, it could no longer keep up with the prices of the assembly line-produced competition. There were simultaneously massive problems with the construction of the larger vehicles: The quality decreased. In January 1929, the factory was shut down. 

Reinhard Burkart Archive

Trade office index card on Selve-Automobilwerke AG

Hamelin, 1922

The Hamelin trade office created this index card on Selve in January 1922. After closure in 1929, the Mederer Institute in Berlin took over the factory from 1931 and registered “Deutsche Automobil-Werke AG” in 1934. Nothing came of the “extensive orders from the state” repeatedly promised by the operator, however. In 1944, it is noted on the index card: “Shut down years ago.” 

Item on loan: City of Hamelin Street Warden Department


the best

Title in an advertising brochure, around 1923