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My stepmom, Olly, has a cat named Gogo. She’s got this wild, fluffy black hair, a rip-roaring purr, and huge green eyes (Gogo, not Olly). Basically, she’s absolutely adorable, and I bet even the SMV engineers would love her, based on this highly educational video.
Anyways, I love the name Gogo, so obviously, I love the Goggomobil, even though it’s a little difficult to find information about the company’s history.
The Goggomobil began its life story in 1895. At that time, a Bavarian man called Hans Glas opened a repair shop for agricultural equipment. I can’t say he had the catchiest name I’ve ever heard of (Hans Glas, Reparaturwerkstaette fuer landwirtschaftliche Maschinen mit Damptbetrieb or the Repair Shop for Steam-powered Agricultural Machines). Despite the ultra-long name, Glas enjoyed some success, particularly with his sowing machines. His business kept expanding as Hans went through life (and several wars). Eventually, his son, Andreas, joined the business. After World War II, the demand for agricultural machinery was in a steep decline and Andreas was scouring the European countryside for new ways of generating business. Lo and behold, in 1951 he came upon a Vespa scooter.
He brought this idea back to the Dingolfing factory and Glas began pumping out scooters. In a stroke of naming genius, Andreas and Hans decided to call the scooter after the youngest Glas boy, nicknamed Goggo. The Germans went wild and the scooters sold like hotcakes to the economically-depressed Germans who were hungering for affordable, respectable forms of transportation. The scooter’s success led to the development of a larger car, and thus the Goggomobil was born.
The Goggomobil T300 was produced from 1955 through 1968. Like other Goggomobils, it had a low center of gravity which provided good stability on the roadways. Pietro Frua, a top Italian designer linked with Maserati, designed the body, which featured a pressed-steel chassis and stiffening ribs for reduced flexibility. The car had swing axle suspension and independent springs, making it a comfier ride than many of its fellow micro competitors. This model sported a 297cc engine that topped out at about 60 mph and put out 15 hp. Like many other microcars, the Goggomobil sipped gas at the leisurely rate of over 50 mpg.
Like many microcar makers before them, Andreas and Hans were not satisfied with their tiny cars and sought to expand into the large car market. Their attempts were not received well and in 1966, the company was sold to BMW. Goggomobils were made under the BMW name until 1969, at which time the Glas factory at Dingolfing began producing BMW suspension components instead of mini cars.
However, the Goggomobil reigned supreme in its glory days. By 1956, the small car was exported into 36 countries and ultimately over a quarter million Goggomobils were sold, making the vehicle the most successful German microcar ever sold.