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Classic Velocity Blog

Filtering by Tag: Lloyd

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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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