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Early-Goggo escapes in the last minute an aqueous environment


It may have been about five years ago, when Uwe Gusen called me and told me that he heard about a very old sedan in Berlin. I should, he suggested take a look at it and submit a report for the club magazine. The owner had bought an old owner's manual from him, was living in the north of the city and would like to show me the car.
The shock in a wet shed


We agreed on a date and I got to meet the friendly owner of the Goggo, who as it seemed like wanted to round out his car collection at the lower end by adding less expensive and smaller cars: The other vehicles he owned are more often found at the other end of the car collector spectrum, like more or less older copies from the brand Porsche.
When he opened the creaking door of a dilapidated wooden shed, my expectation quickly degraded to disappointment: It was raining through the roof on a heap of misery surrounded by rubbish which one could barely make out in the dark as a Goggo. It was not accessible enough and too dark for a closer inspection. To my question if this wreck was for sale, the man said no, therefore I went back home with little accomplished and from what I was shown certainly not enough for a story for the GCN.
The useful box
For ever I keep on my desk a small box where I put old notes, addresses and business cards that might eventually be of interest again. Every blue moon I scour through the box to see if it contains something worth my while to dig into it again. On this day the address of my old Porsche friend fell into my hand and I decided to contact him again.
I sent him a postcard from the 50s that I had just bought on eBay: It showed the Berlin Victory Column and the "Street of the 17th of July" still with relatively little traffic and a Goggomobil in the foreground.
As soon the man had received the card, he called me and told me that he has moved the Goggomobil into his new building and he would like to part with it, since his main interest really were other vehicles.
Visit to the Auto-paradise
We agreed to meet again and when I walked into the spotless, bright, warm and covered facility, my eyes fell on a wide variety of in mint condition Porsches, all neatly lined up. In addition, there was a freshly restored, rare Lloyd bus in a better than new condition. And then there was also something else and somewhat misplaced in this environment: the old Goggo sedan still covered with moss and dust and with its moldy interior, the result of years spend in the wet shed. It was resting on a cart looking like if his wheel were not allowed to touch the clinically clean floor.
"Prehistoric" model with aftermarket parts
The interior loks really originalThe interior loks really originalAt least, for the first time I could inspect the vehicle better now and recognized right away, that many strange parts had been used: the front bumper came from the later model, headlights, turn signals and tail lights came from East German cars. The reason for this was, that the car had been running since 1957 in the GDR, where of course original spare parts were not available. On the other hand this was precisely the reason why this car survived in the country of workers and peasants, because not to my knowledge there are not many 1955 sedans around.
When the owner mentioned that he actually did not want to take up the challenge of a full restoration, I asked him if his asking price would eventually harmonize with my "pay grade." We agreed on a sum for which I could have bought three Goggos in this condition, but not a 1955.
Getting home
After pumping up the tires we loaded the picture of misery on my trailer, which as a precaution I had brought along, for the change of location from North to South Berlin. Once in my garage, I realized after a little cleaning, that the condition of the car was not quite so hopeless, as I had feared five years ago. Sure the body and parts of the floor pan needed work, but on which old Goggo is this not the case? Although much work would be necessary, but for sure Goggos in much worse condition had been restored.
Early model of the start-up phase
And the trouble here could be particularly worthwhile, because it was the oldest Goggomobil known to me. I had noticed that the chassis number 31 and engine number 13 were not only noted in the GDR vehicle registration of 1957, but also in the original maintenance checkbook of 1955. And there, the last one of four maintenance checks was past due for the past 58 years ...
Interesting was also that in these early stages, shortly after the start of production no "right" owner's manual existed: Only briefly were the main operating elements described in the maintenance check book, and the company explained in the first sentence, that because of the large demand they put their focus on an early production start and everything else, for the time being, was going to be addressed later.
Mysterious engine number
motor no. 13!motor no. 13!Still, it is not quite clear to me that vehicle number "31" was carrying an engine with number "13," especially since there is a "02" stamped in front of it. At least for the latter, there would be an explanation: The "02" had apparently been added later and with a different typeface than the original motor number, probably the motor went back to the factory in the warranty period for repair and there the repair was marked with the "02." That engines in the early days of production were plagued with problems is well known and also that the company responded very accommodating to the complaints. And to this day the engine seems to be in good health: it turns over with good compression and when looking through the intake ports one sees two perfectly preserved pistons.
Looking for a fearless restorer
Now this "early" sedan awaits a restoration shop, which should not be very inexperienced with sheet metal work, as I myself will not attack this project and do not want to keep the car. Pleased that our 1962 sedan was just completed, time is spend increasingly driving and traveling in our cars. Spare time is limited more and more to the maintenance of existing vehicles and not taking on a new project.
Wanted is someone who is not afraid to pull off the "full Monty," separate the body from the floor pan and unbolt the top and the four fenders and start a thorough restoration. Anything else would not make sense, and the "effort" would be rewarded with a further increase in value. Anyone fearing the effort may, of course, look for a better preserved specimen, perhaps with the help of an old postcard ...

Bernhard Bergmann