Goggo Sedan History

Development and production of the Goggomobil

The first 1,300 vehicles

After the successful launch of the Goggo scooter and therefore entering in a new business venture, the agricultural equipment manufacturer GLAS, realized very soon that the future was not in the two-wheeled vehicles, but that people aspired to own a car.

Therefore in 1952 the decision was made to develop a small car. Hans Glas however required that this new car could not cost more to the future customers than 3.000 German Marks. Back then, these were the cost for a motorcycle with sidecar and the accompanying leather clothing. Furthermore, the vehicle should be large enough for a family with two children, and should have a performance of 12 to 15 HP.

Because of the demanding design requirements of the senior boss, the developing team soon realized that for this price they could not outsource important parts such as engine, transmission, and many of the required tools. So the team decided to develop and build as much as possible in house.

But first Hans Glas gave Karl Dompert the task to develop a sports car for his namesake grandson. Karl Dompert ended up having two chassis built and therefore one of them ended up being the first chassis for the Goggomobil (see "Glas derived vehicles - prototypes").

To design the engine and transmission, Glas hired Felix Dozekal from the Adler-Werke. After many efforts, which were also associated with many setbacks, a robust two-stroke engine was developed, which later became known for its longevity. The first engine ran already in 1952. But the first mass-produced engines ended up just after 2 minutes with a piston seizure. Dozekal could not get this problem under control. It worked on him so much that he suffered a stroke. Karl Dompert sprang into this vacancy and decided to visit to the Mahle piston factory in Stuttgart. They immediately took on this problems and the engine was redesigned. A short time later, the engine ran flawlessly.

The 3-speed gearbox, developed by Hurth in Munich ended up being replaced during the testing phase with a 4-speed transmission. This gave the car the necessary" off the line" performance that made it later even famous when racing in the Alps.

For the body, the in-house wood working shop constructed a wooden model. The first three prototypes were built with a front opening door (see " Glas derived vehicles - prototypes"). Karl Dompert wanted, to save tooling costs, to develop only one side stamping and use it on both sides by just turning the front to the rear for the other side. But he feared patent disputes with his low cost front door solution with the Italians. Schorsch Meier was called in for advice and on a Monday morning the staff of the developing department found a big opening on the right side of the front door Goggos. During a late night discussion Anderl Glas, Karl Dompert and Schorsch Meier together came to the conclusion, that the most sensible solution for the Goggomobil would be the side entrance. After consultation with the accounting department, which strictly oversaw the production costs, the Goggomobil then was given two side doors.

For the design of the body, interior, electrics and electrical schematics three employees were responsible. Karl Dompert had already developed the chassis for the Goggomobil. Therefore wheelbase and track were already determined. With a wire skeleton, called "seat box", the minimum body dimensions were determined. With an in-house made measuring board the outer contour lines could be accurately determined.

For the first vehicle bodies only templates and wooden bucks were available for the production of the sheet metal body parts. Drawings were only available for the formed parts. A copy milling machine was not around, this came later for the Isar. Roof, rear and hood were drawn sheet metal parts. Here, the tight curves on the roof had to be heated with a torch and were then formed by specialists with a rubber mallet. The small scoops for the headlights on the hood were soldered in place. Later, the hood became a deep-drawn sheet metal part.

The then plant manager, Mr. Kessler got the deep-draw forming press from the aircraft industry.
Windshield frame and the frame for side windows were stamped parts which were welded together. Later these parts were tacked together and then roll-welded. The roll-welding machine was built by Mr. Bauer from several drill presses. Side panels and fenders were already deep-draw sheet metal parts.

All parts were then degreased and painted individually. At the beginning, due to budget constraints, there was only a single color, Sahara Beige. The parts were initially dried in the same kilns as the scooter parts. Final assembly took place in the same area where the scooters were built. For that it was necessary to create a detailed plan of when the scooter production would cease. Back then only one type of vehicle could be on the assembly line at one time.
The assembly line was designed and built in-house. As early as 1953, the German lexicon of the Motor Vehicle Industry, published by Bertelsmann, showed the advanced assembly line used by GLAS to build the scooter.

The front end and the back section were bolted to the chassis frame. Then wheel arches and fenders were installed. The parts were all screwed together with welts, as used by VW.
Panels inside the doors were initially not installed. Colored textile flakes were sprayed onto the inside of the doors and the roof area. This led to the complaints of the customers, since the flakes after a short time became free and found themselves on their clothing. It was decided to insert a simple piece of cardboard into the doors. Once the wind-up windows replaced the sliding window, the door panels were redesigned for a third time. Door lock and guide wedge were initially supplied by Happich but later converted to a more modern locking system from Tack und Gabel, Wuppertal.
The quite simple seats had from the beginning a folding backrest for easier access to the rear seats, a pretty hard bench seat.

The first wheels still came from the scooter. Bumpers and hubcaps were only painted the beginning. The fully covering hubcaps easily came off if they touched a curb and therefore often got lost. So the design of the wheel and hubcap were changed to the shape still used to the end.
Many of the compromises at the start of production, however, had a reason. Every month, Hans Glas set an exact limit on how much Karl Dompert and his development team was allowed to spend on the Goggomobil. The series launch was set for November 1954. But through the many setbacks in engine development, the conversion of 3-speed to 4-speed transmission and the redesign of the front door to the two side doors, the schedule was brought in jeopardy. However, Hans Glas pushed for the production start, because in the meantime the money was running out. He bridged the financial difficulties with special discounts for agricultural seeding machines if they were paid in full during that winter.

In the meantime, Karl Dompert created a plan on how to get the production started quickly. Thus, the use of welding machines for the body parts was moved back until after the plant vacation in 1955. The first 1,000 vehicles were bolted together. But after the welding machines came on line, the way for a more efficient production and a more rigid body was set.
The vent grille of the VW Beetle, used on the side panels in the beginning were replaced by two vent caps ("Ohrwaschel") for a better air intake to the engine. Only in the autumn of 1956 came the final air vents.

The first cars had a very poor build quality and showed many growing pains on various parts. This meant that the first vehicles soon disappeared from the scene. Today, from the first year of production, there are hardly more than a handful of vehicles. "We had no experience on how to transform our self from a constructor of agricultural machinery to a car builder," said Günter Patron.
But the designers and production staff learned quickly and continuously and the development of the vehicles continued. In the beginning no vehicle looked like the next. The major changes in 1957 were heralded in advertising brochures and in the press.

The logical and continuing development and the right decision to replace the front door by two side doors helped the Goggomobil to become the most successful small cars of the postwar history. The press praised the efforts of the company and rewarded them in their test reports.
For the company GLAS, the Goggomobil, besides of having the highest number of units built also had from 1955 to 1969 the longest production run.

Uwe Gusen