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Classic Velocity Blog

Filtering by Tag: Goliath

Down the Lane

Classic Velocity

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Nashville, Tenessee naturally brings to mind Country Music and the Grand Ole Opry, Whiskey, and the smoky mountains. A great automotive museum ? Not so much. Which is why the Lane Motor Museum is such a surprising discovery. Not that it is unknown in museum circles, as it is another of those Family-owned marvels that we the public benefit from immensely, and which are fairly well known among gearheads regionally. The museum is a 501c3 established by Jeff Lane in 2002 around his personal collection. Now there are three aspects of the Lane Museum that make it particularly attractive to Classic Velocity. First, it specializes in European vehicles. Second, every vehicle is a running, driving specimen that gets some usage. This is no small feat, as you will see. There is a real mix of near showroom cars, and many with a healthy patina. Third, the museum is housed in a 132,000 ft2 former Sunbeam Bakery complete with brick walls and maple floors. It compliments the collection and vice versa.

If there is a theme for the museum, it is probably "interesting cars" as our basement tour guide described it. The main floor is 40,000 ft2 of those cars along with a history of the bicycle exhibit, which was interesting in its own right. The vehicles (they include a smattering of motorcycles and scooters) are roughly, but not entirely, grouped by the region of Europe. Scandinavia included Volvos and Saabs. A highlight of this area was a Saab 92 from 1950 which only came in aircraft green because that paint was surplus from the war. Next on my circumnavigation of the floor was an impressive collection of micro cars which crossed all geographic boundaries. Well known Isetta, and Messerschmidt shared space with a Zundapp Janus, a Heinkel and a Hoffman. Hondas and Berkeleys and Subarus were intertwined. The French and the Italians were not to be outdone with entries from Renault (a dauphine Henney electric car from 1959!), Citroen, Fiat, and a delightful Vespa. DAF, Daihatsu, and an American Davis were also included. A well executed Tata Nano from India was also present. A truly "interesting" group.

Back to the regions, Italy blurred into France which was dominated by Citroen, but had an iconic Renault 5 Turbo. At this point I need to jump back over to a small group of race cars to highlight the bright orange Citroen DS Ice Racer, complete with snorkel and studded tires. Enough said. The next section was dedicated to Tatra from the Czech Republic, so technically it was regional. However, there were about a dozen Tatras on display, and more in the basement. They are a theme of this museum, and run from a 1925 car to  a 1994 truck. Interesting design, interesting engineering, interesting history. Eastern Europe continued with a Polish FSO, Skodas, and then into Russia via Zil and ZAZ. 

I left Germany for last, given the focus of this blog. This was a great opportunity to see vehicles in person that have been covered on these pages, from marques which went away decades ago, and are not normally seen even at vintage events. Perhaps my favorite was back in the race car section where there was a 1 of 1 Shirdlu powered by a BMW 700 engine. Minimalist at 1000 lbs and top speed of 127 mph. Designed and built by 3 Californians. The collection included a couple of Hanomags, a Hansa, a few Lloyds, a Steyr, several DKWs (including a lovely Monza), a Wartburg, several NSUs, a Goliath, and more.  Incredible, and knowing that all of them were or soon would be running driving examples made it all the more impressive.

If you are anywhere near Nashville, you owe the Lane Motor Museum a visit, but pay the extra for the basement tour. It is well worth it.

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Goliath GP700 Sport

Classic Velocity

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Goliath was founded by Carl Borgward in Bremen, and has been mentioned in these pages before (see The Many Faces of Borgward and Maintaining Tempo). They are perhaps most well known for their three-wheeled vehicles with commercial applications.  After the war, three wheeled production restarted first. Their first postwar four-wheeled vehicle was introduced at the Geneva show in 1950, and it was a small 2 door coupe called the GP700.  It sported a 688cc two-stroke engine producing 25hp in carburetor form, and 29hp in fuel injected form. 

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At the Berlin show in 1951, Goliath introduced the GP 700 sport. The sport was front-engined, and front wheel drive! It featured an enlarged 845cc engine, capable of 32 hp and 44 ft/lbs of torque, but it only weighed 1753 lbs. It was equipped with Bosch fuel injection prior to the Mercedes which is often thought to be the first. Top speed was 78mph, and you did not get there quickly, but this was adequate performance at the time. The GP700 also featured a 4 speed synchromesh gearbox, which was again advanced for the time. The swoopy body was from Karosserie Rometsch, and had similarities with the Porsche 356 and the Borgward Hansa. In particular, the cabin profile, the wheel arches, the hood, and the sloping rear with a small trunklid, could easily lead you to believe that this was a Porsche product. The interior was elegant, with a painted dash and luxurious VDO gauges. 

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The Sport was a true hand built car, and was very expensive. offered from 1951 to 1953 in model years, but was really only in production from Mid 1951 to mid 1952. It's low production numbers (only 27-30 were believed to be produced) and unique features make it rare, and few survived. However, it introduced a number of features which went on to become standard in automobiles for the latter half of 20th century.

Maintaining Tempo

Classic Velocity

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Vidal and Sohn was founded in 1883 to provide fire-fighting services to the harbor where coal was the big mover. Following the decline of the coal industry they established Tempo-Werke in Hamburg in the early 1920s where they concentrated on light commercial vehicles such as delivery vans. The first vehicles were the Tempo T1 and T2, which were both "Tricycle" vehicles. They had a single wheel in the rear, and two at the front, similar to the then popular Goliath utility vehicles. Both models were powered by single cylinder engines of 200cc and 400cc respectively.

I love this picture of an airborne Hanseat. I hope the rear axle stayed attached upon landing !

I love this picture of an airborne Hanseat. I hope the rear axle stayed attached upon landing !

The economic crash of 1929 left Tempo struggling mightily to survive, but the same crash put major competitor Rollfix into bankruptcy. Their chief designer Otto Daus jumped to Tempo, and completely redesigned the vehicles to produce the T6. Although similar in appearance, the new model was a quantum leap forward in quality and reliability. They now used two-stroke JLO engines, and the configuration changed to a single front wheel with two at the rear, giving birth to the model name Hanseat. Goliath was now the main competitor, and a series of "leapfrog" improvements (and experiments) ensued. Different steering mechanisms, fully enclosed cabs, front wheel drive, larger more powerful engines, etc. They also produced a variety of body configurations, including a passenger sedan (the first SUV?), a flatbed, a panel van, etc. In the battle for carrying capacity, Tempo also produced its first four-wheeled vehicle. Named the V600, it boasted a carrying capacity of 1000 kilos. It was also front wheel drive with independent axles. Not long after, in response to an army contract, they produced a four wheel drive light utility vehicle powered by two 600cc Ilo engines (one front and one rear). This vehicle had good ground clearance, good speed (70 KPH), and was efficient due to good fuel mileage and the ability to shut off one of the engines (the first 4WD SUV?). The German military rejected the use of a two-stroke engine, but Tempo went into production anyway, and almost all of the  G1200s were exported. In 1934, Tempo took a Hanseat to the Avus high speed track and set a number of world records including  the endurance record for trucks under 200cc.

Post WWII, Tempo survived by repairing vehicles used to clear and rebuild. Eventually, they began to produce Tricycle based machines again. Then another momentous event took place when Otto Daus retired, and new designer  Bergst decided to modernize the fleet. Tempo launched the four-wheeled Matador which had a Volkswagen engine and gearbox  beneathe the cab-forward design. It proved very popular until Volkswagen stopped supplying engines in 1952 in order to launch its own utility vehicle. Replacement engines were tried from Ilo and Henkel, but with very poor results, and by the mid 1950s, Tempo was in trouble. In order to survive, Oscar Vidal sold a 50% stake to Hanomag, which allowed them to make needed capital investments. They struggled along until 1956, when they were forced to stop manufacturing the Hanseat, and the design and rights were sold to the Indian company Bajaj. The Bajaj-Hanseat was very successful in its new markets.

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Once again, a fortunate turn of events allowed Tempo to finally get a good motor from Austin in England in 1957. This revived the Matador, and sales began to rise once again. They were sold in the UK as the Jensen-Tempo, and were sold in Australia and many other markets. There were several updates and some restyling throughout the late 1950s and the 1960s, includng optional Hanomag diesel engnes. In 1969, Mercedes purchased Hanomag, and they soon consolidated all labels, including Hanomag and Tempo, into the Mercedes brand. The Bajaj-Hanseat was produced without much alteration until 2000.

The Many Faces of Borgward

Classic Velocity

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Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Borgward began building automobiles in the early 1920s in Bremen, Germany. He started with a 3 wheeled utility vehicle called the Goliath Blitzkarren (lightning cart). It was as much motorcycle as it was car, and was aimed at small businesses. It eventually resulted in orders from the German postal service, and proved to be very successful. In the late 1920s Borgward took advantage of the bankruptcy of nearby Hansa-Lloyd to expand his automobile base by acquiring the assets. Into the 1930s, the brands Hansa , Lloyd, and Borgward continued to be used, along with Goliath. Models such as the Hansa Konsul and the 1700 Sport Cabriolet did well into the late 1930s, as did the Borgward Isabella. All the while, Goliath continued to turn out larger more capable vans and trucks.

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.As it did for almost everything in Germany, the war halted business, and diverted efforts toward either military work or hibernation. Borgward emerged from the war to produce the Borgward Hansa 1500, which had a sedan, an Estate (station wagon), and a lovely Sportcoupe. In 1954 the Isabella was introduced, which proved to be the most successful model to date for the company. It was joined by the P100 sedan in 1959.

Hansa 1500 Sport Coupe - source: Wikipedia

Hansa 1500 Sport Coupe - source: Wikipedia

Financial problems began just as the 1960s began. Borgward's insistence that Borgward, Hansa, Goliath, and Lloyd be run as separate entities meant that he could not leverage parts and production lines across the companies. This was in a time when Volkswagen, Auto Union, BMW, and Opel were doing so to great effect, driving down costs and increasing production. Then there was the Lloyd Arabella, which was advanced (air suspension, automatic transmission, etc), expensive, and plagued with quality problems. Not a good combination.

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In 1961, the company was forced to become a state-owned entity in order to protect its creditors. That was short-lived as the company was liquidated later that year. However, there is also a somewhat credible theory that argues that despite the problems, Borgward was not insolvent at the time of its demise in 1961. Statements by creditors partially support this view. The theory further argues that one or more of its larger competitors along with one of Bremen's regional Directors orchestrated a campaign to malign the company and drive it out of business. It reportedly had offers from Chrysler, and separately from private backers, that were not able to move forward because of the state's control over the process. The likelihood is that a combination of the efficiency, quality, financial, and political factors brought an end to an innovative company that should have survived. It is particularly ironic as BMW was being saved by the Quandt family at the same time with arguably worse financials (when adjusted for scale). 

But wait, not so fast....The Borgward name is now back in the hands of descendant Christian Borgward. He is president of Borgward AG, and is hinting at exciting news regarding a new car as of November 2013....

Borgward Essen Video August 2013