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Classic Velocity Blog

Filtering by Tag: Rometsch

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.

Rometsch Roadster

Classic Velocity

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Friedrich Rometsch was a German coachbuilder based in the Halensee section of Berlin. The company was founded in the 1920s when classic coachbuilding was still in its heyday. The basic idea was to select a chassis (usually complete with drivetrain), and then marry it to a custom made body from your  selected coachbuilder. Of course, only the well heeled client could afford this process, but the end result was a unique vehicle (or one of few).   

Fast forward to the postwar period, and Rometsch joined many others in using the Volkswagen Beetle chassis and drivetrain as a platform. VW happily sold this platform to a variety of coachbuilders such as Karmann, Beutler, Porsche, Reutter, and Hebmuller. It was a simple and sturdy chassis with a great flexibility to increase overhangs and power. Rometsch was perhaps the first though, to introduce a production model rather than true one-off customs. They produced a four door sedan that was popular as a taxi, but they also produced a handsome cabriolet called the Beeskow. Romaine Beeskow was chief designer for Rometsch in the late 1940s, after making a name for himself developing cabriolets for Austro-Daimler, Maybach, and Erdmann&Rossi. The cabriolet body was mostly his own design pitched to Rometsch in 1949, so when it finally got approved for production, his name became the model designation. 

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Production versions of the roadster first went on sale in 1951, had many distinctive features for the time. Among those features were aluminum body panels for light weight, "eyebrow" accents over the fenders later seen on Mercedes cars, and extensive use of chrome trim (at least for a European car).  The Beeskow was very well received, and went on to win the prestigious Golden Rose of Geneva at the show in 1953. This success had not escaped the attention of VW CEO Heinz Nordhoff, who promptly prohibited the sale of the chassis to Rometsch. Rometsch purchased them independently, and VW countered by prohibiting that as well. Rometsch then converted customer purchased cars, and even exported some to the sole US dealership in Hollywood, California where a few made their way into the hands of Hollywood stars. However, purchasing full cars only to strip them down to the chassis was not cost effective, and so began a decline.

The ultimate damage however, was done by the introduction of the VW Karmann Ghia. Here was a good looking coupe on a longer VW chassis with Italian styling, and all the benefits of a factory production model. And at a good price. Karmann then executed the coup de grace by hiring Beeskow away from Rometsch in 1956. He helped them design the cabriolet version of the Karmann Ghia. The Rometsch Beeskow ended production the same year. It is estimated that only 170 cars were produced in total, making them pretty rare.