GOGGOMOBIL should be revived. I really think that it should.
Produced by the Hans Glas company in Dingolfing, the same town which now hosts a BMW plant, this company made adorable small cars in coupe and sedan configurations and even made an impossibly cute delivery van at the same time.
They may have been the first to use timing belt on an overhead camshaft engine but that technological innovation is nothing when compared with the cuteness that they brought to bear on the world.
The innovative timing belt caught the eye of Bavaria Motor Works and in 1966, it was bought over by the Munich firm, which phased out the Goggomobil line-up and happily continued with the new engine technology.
In 1895, mechanic Andreas Glas started his business as a repair shop for steam powered agricultural machine in Pilsting, a small town in the district of Dinglofing-Landau in Bavaria, but business wasn’t exactly booming — he only had work during the summer months.
By 1905, he began making a seed drill and this business was good enough for him to maintain a workforce year-round and a branch office in the district capital of Dingolfing.
After World War 2, demand for his agricultural products tapered off and so Glas quickly got into the trending business then - building cars.
Like many post-war carmakers, they could only really find markets for small cars and that was how the comically named Goggomobil was born in 1950. (Actually, he named the cars Goggomobil after his grandson).
The Goggomobil looked like it was made in full size but shrunk in the paint dryer. Really cute.
The cars came with an air-cooled 250cc two-cylinder engine as the base, although buyers could also opt for the larger 350cc or 400cc units. They engines were matched to electrically operated pre-selector gearbox.
A pre-selector gearbox works with the driver pre-selecting the next gear he wants to be in and then pressing the clutch pedal, which also engages the chosen gear in one move.
Pre-selector transmission is mostly used in prime mover tractor units and it’s there in order to make gearchanges smoother and more efficient.
Why a simple sequential gearbox like those found in motorcycles were deemed insufficient, we will never know.
The engine hung out behind the rear axle to avoid taking up valuable cabin real estate while giving mechanics easy access to everything.
A year later, Andreas saw the original Vespa and immediately fell in love with the idea. The Glas Goggo Roller was born in July that same year.
The first Roller, and I’m not making negative references to Rolls-Royce here, came with a 125cc air-cooled engine but they later offered 200cc and 250cc engines, too.
I think the design is very whimsical, looking like a floating scooter because the tyres are well hidden underneath the chubby bodywork.
A chrome plated handlebar that sticks out on top of the headlamp cowling completes the looks.
Underneath the bodywork is a tube frame that forms a box of sorts around the engine and connects it to the upright and the front wheels.
While the cabriolet is a laugh, the coupe is a giggle and a half, the sedan is ruthless smile inducer, but it’s the van that takes my fancy. It looks like a clown van and even in plain grey paint, it’s cute and looks ready to show you a trick.
Since BMW has been very successful reviving the MINI, I think that it’s time they wield some of that substantial engineering and styling talents to reviving the Goggo.
Imagine the queue that would form outside BMW Motorrad showrooms if they offered a roller complete with sidecars.
I would definitely take my place in the line if the cute van is on sale again.