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Classic Velocity Blog

Gutbrod

Classic Velocity

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What comes to mind when someone asks you about an automobile manufacturer from Stuttgart that produced rear engine cars? Porsche would be the most obvious answer, but there was another manufacturer that would also be a correct answer. Gutbrod. Actually, they were in Feuerbach, which is a suburb of Stuttgart, but close enough. What comes to mind when someone asks you about a German company that first started producing motorcycles in the 1920s and then went on to produce cars starting in the 1930s? BMW would be the most obvious answer, but there was another manufacturer that would also be a correct answer. Gutbrod. They produced motorcycles under the brand "Standard" beginning in 1926, and went on to produce their first car under the same brand in 1933. The cars were small basic rear-engined machines. The fact that we are not all riding or driving around in Gutbrods today, tells you that their story is very different from  Porsche or BMW. 

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Wilheim Gutbrod started out high quality producing motorcycles in 1926 and immediately grasped the value of racing to publicize the brand. Gutbrod was both active and successful with machines ranging from 250cc to 1000cc in the late 1920s. They had particular success with the 1000cc sidecar class. Gutbrod purchased the Swiss motorcycle company Zehnder in 1930, which was ironically what enabled the production of cars. The company transitioned to son Walter and motorcycle production ended in 1939.

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Postwar in 1950, a new small car now called the Gutbrod Superior was introduced using a 593cc or a 663cc front-mounted two-stroke engine.  It was developed by former Mercedes engineer Hans Scherenburg (who later returned to Mercedes). This link with Mercedes is probably responsible for the Gutbrod being the first production fuel-injected car in the world, a few years before Mercedes introduced theirs. Models included a ragtop, a station wagon, and a sedan. There was also a sport roadster. The car only weighed 1433 lbs, and top speed was around 62mph (100kph). In 1954, Gutbrod was forced to close its' doors for auto production, but lived on via the sale of engines and farm/lawn equipment. The Norwegian Troll car company produced cars using the Gutbrod chassis for a brief period as well.