Many people have heard of the German car marque that is 'Borgward', and particularly well
known is their 'Isabella' car. There are other marques within the Borgward group that
are less well known. These are 'Goliath' ‘Lloyd and 'Hansa', all of whom made a number of small
two stroke cars and light commercials.
The company Goliath-Werke Borgward & Co was created by Carl F.G. Borgward and Wilhelm
Tecklenburg in 1928, but Carl Borgward started out a bit before that.
In 1919, he had a tiny factory in Bremen-Hastedt that employed just 20 people.
Here, they made car radiators and bumpers, both of which had been in very short supply
His radiators soon got a reputation for being of excellent quality and he successfully bid
for the contract to supply the venerable truck and luxury car makers Hansa-Lloyd, who were
also based in Bremen-Hastedt.
His factory grew and employed 60 workers by 1921.
Borgward had long dreamed of building his own car and drew up plans to make a small
two seater roadster, but these plans never came to fruition as he realised his factory wasn't
equipped, nor tooled adequately for such an enterprise, despite working on a prototype.
Some sources claim he sold this prototype to Hansa-Lloyd who then put it into production,
But I’m not convinced this was the case.
In 1922, the small firm bought a larger factory in nearby Bremen-Neustadt, where employees
would wheel parts around to the different workstations by hand-carts.
A disgruntled employee Opa (Grand-dad) Klie complained to Borgward about how labour
intensive and inefficient this process was and this led directly to Borgward designing a simple
3-wheel kart powered by a 120cc two stroke engine that produced just 2 hp from its one cylinder.
The kart had no starter, nor gearbox and had to be pushed to start with the driver then jumping
on. It only had the one fixed forward gear. It was named Blitzkarren (lightning cart).
It used bicycle wheels and the driver sat at the back, behind his cargo.
|Figure 1: 1924 Blitzkarren.|
He realised that this product, although crude and minimalistic, did the job and the factory
made 100 of these karts by 1924. It sold for 980 Marks.
These sales were greatly aided by the salesmanship of Wilhelm Tecklenburg, who had
recently became a partner in the company and devoted his efforts to selling the Blitzkarren.
So successful was this small motorised kart, that it quickly became the factory's main
product and a greatly improved version was built in 1925.
The workforce voted to name this model 'Lilput' but Carl Borgward named it 'Goliath'
instead after the biblical figure. The implication was that although small, it could do a giant
of a job.
It became hugely popular with small business owners for deliveries and the Reichspost
(postal service) was a big account for the company, who used them to deliver letters.
This made sure that Borgward's product was seen all over Germany and his business
continued to flourish and grow rapidly.
|Figure 2: The 1st Goliath 1925.|
This rapid growth necessitated yet bigger premises and the factory moved to another
motor factory that had become bankrupt, that was opposite the Hansa-Lloyd works.
The Hansa-Lloyd company who Borgward supplied with radiators were also struggling in the
marketplace that was prevalent in depression-like Germany.
Few could afford their luxury, expensive vehicles and sales plummeted.
When their share price also plummeted, Borgward bought up enough of them that he took
control of the company in 1929.
He culled the model range and replaced most of it by smaller, cheaper vehicles that were
quicker to produce and in demand in the current economic climate.
Goliath continued to build mostly three wheeled light commercial vehicles, but launched
its first passenger trike, the 'Pionier' in 1931.
This vehicle had room for 2 people and its body was made of wood, which was then
covered with leather. It was good for about 25-30 mph from its 5.5 Hp engine.
At this point all Goliath vehicles were still powered by one cylinder engines.
|Figure 3: 1932 Goliath Pionier.|
By the end of 1934 over 4000 of the Pionier were built in different body guises.
Vehicle building for the Goliath company continued in much the same vein, making
Mainly three wheeler commercials.
We have to go to 1950 before any two stroke passenger cars of note were produced
under the Goliath brand.
In 1934, Carl Borgward introduced two new two stroke cars under the Hansa brand, which
were the Hansa 400 and Hansa 500.
|Figure 4: 1934 Hansa 400.|
They were rear engined and rear wheel driven, with two stroke engines of 400 and 500cc
respectively. Although small cars they had room for 4 passengers and were also constructed
from wood covered with leather. Both cars were 2 cylinder units.
These cars were not a big success due to bad timing.
In 1933, Hitler's Nazi party had come to power in Germany and the German economy
improved almost instantly. With that, the market for bigger, more substantial cars improved
from 1934 and sales of the Hansa 400 and 500 were poor.
It would be the aftermath of WWII which would once again pave the way for similar cheap
to produce and cheap to buy cars.
|Figure 5: Hansa 500.|
Carl Borgward didn't fare greatly during WWII.
From 1939, he was instructed to make trucks, torpedoes and guns for the Wehrmacht.
He continued this until 1944, when his Bremen-Hastedt factory was almost totally
destroyed by allied aircraft. Another factory of his in nearby Bremen-Sebaldsbruck was
badly damaged also at the same time.
In 1945, he was arrested by American forces and imprisoned for 2.5 years for aiding
the German war effort ( like he had much choice!).
Initially after WWII, Borgward first made handcarts and small trailers for bicycles.
Then as the German economy slowly started to rebuild itself, the company started to
remanufacture the 3 wheeled vehicles in 1949 that were so successful before the war due to
their low cost and practicality. Just the thing a struggling economy needed.
Materials necessary for vehicle manufacture were in such short supply that the Government
were allocating equal supply measures to all car makers, regardless of size or production
Carl Borgward had two factories, rebuilt from the ashes of WWII, from which he build all
vehicles. He realised that if he registered each of his marques separately, he could avail of
more of what he needed. He quickly registered a new brand of car, the 'Lloyd' which debuted
Borgward-Hansa vehicles were manufactured in the newly rebuilt Bremen-Sebaldsbruck.
Goliath's were made in his Bremen-Hanstadt factory, into which the new Lloyd LP300 would
This car was very similar to the ill-fated Hansa 400/500 that preceded it, in that it was
cheaply made from wood and covered in leather type material to protect from rain.
This time though, the Lloyd was a winner as cheap transport was all the rage in Post-
War Germany and soon a new factory had to be built to accommodate ever-rising
With production of Lloyd moving elsewhere, Goliath could then turn their attentions to
making a new two stroke car of their own and it turned out to be a cracker!
Goliath GP 700. 1950-1957.
GP 700 Sport 1950-1953.
There was also a cabriolet version of the saloon and a kombi estate model.
|Figure 6: 1950 Goliath GP 700.|
Former employees from Dkw, who had fled Zwickau when it became Communist and
subsequently annexed along with the rest of East Germany from West, had found
employment with Carl Borgward in Bremen.
These employees brought all the Dkw know-how and expertise not only in small
car manufacture, but also in two stroke engines and front wheel drive technology that
up to this point was still relatively unused.
These employees had a big input into the new Goliath car which was named the GP700.
It had a very good separate type chassis and clever suspension set up, that was very
Dkw-like. The engine was a 688cc, straight twin cylinder unit and the car was front
The engine was mounted far ahead of the front wheels and mounted transversely along
with the gearbox, which drove the front wheels.
Ist engine was 688cc and produced 25 Hp in carburettor format.
The same engine with fuel injection put out 29 Hp.
The fuel injection was first introduced on the sport coupe only but
shortly afterwards was offered as an option on the saloon.
Two stroke power seen a revival of interest in post-War Germany as their engines
were cheap to make, quick to produce, simple to maintain and economical.
Carl Borgward designed the GP700 himself and it's still today one of the nicer
two stroke saloons ever made.
For 1950, the car's styling was very bold and adventurous indeed and it was superbly
crafted with wings that were fully integrated into the bodywork.
Most unusually,( for these times) the passenger cabin utilised the full width of the car.
It had a 4 speed gearbox ( all syncromesh was available from 1952).
Unlike the Lloyd LP300, the Goliath was a steel bodied car and was quite a bit
bigger and more expensive.
In size terms, the car is roughly the same size as the IFA F9 and its clever
design gave excellent interior space for its time, despite a wheelbase of just 2300mm.
Much of the labour on this car was done by hand as the factory wasn't retooled
adequately since the War for high production output.
The chassis was made by hand-welding and every body panel had to be finished with
a hand-held disc sander before assembly.
The GP 700 was a very good car and was praised for its handling and road manners.
Despite its quality, sales were never what they could and perhaps should have been.
In 1952, this car became the first car ever to offer fuel injection ( Bosch) and the
only two stroke car ever to have it.
This increased the already excellent fuel economy that the car enjoyed and also
increased its performance.
In the 1956 Mobilgas Economy Run in Australia, Colin Oliver and Kenneth Wright won with an
incredible 54.43 mpg or 5.12 litres /100 km!) Even under normal conditions the Goliath was
exceptionally economical. A Wheels road test got 43.5 mpg (6.5 litres /100km).
A range of vans and other light commercials were launched in 1954, called Express but
they never achieved great popularity despite being spacious and as good as anything else
in the marketplace. They used the same engines as the Goliath cars.
|Figure 7: The Goliath Express range.|
GP700 Sport. 1950-1953.
|Figure 8: An early GP700 Sport.|
This car looks a bit like a miniature Porsche 356 and thus has beautiful lines and looks.
This lovely car was only produced in small numbers.
Initially, the car had the same 688cc engine as the saloon car but soon had fuel injection
which boosted its power to 29 hp.
The sport version was also lighter than the standard car and its low slung, aerodynamic
presence ensured it handled like it looked.
In 1953, a more powerful 845cc version was available, with fuel injection as standard.
Goliath GP 900: 1955-1957.
This was the same car as the Gp700, but with a 900cc engine( 886).
It had Bosch fuel injection as standard and had a claimed power output
of 40Hp( 38% more than its predecessor).
It had a 4 speed all syncromesh gearbox also as standard.
This was extraordinarily powerful for these times , yet it was still almost
as frugal on fuel as the 700 model.
Buying a Goliath today:
Goliath’s these days are extremely rare in any format and the chances of buying
A 700 Sport is probably near impossible.
I saw in June of this year on ebay Uk, a Gp700 saloon that needed total restoration.
Despite this, it looked like a very good base for such.
The car only made £640 by auction end and I would have bought it if it hadn’t been in
England which would put at least £400 onto the price, to get the car to Ireland.
The car in question was a 1954 model with fuel injection, although it needed a replacement
Engine or rebuild, I’m sure.
I made contact with the seller a few days after the auction ended to see if it had indeed sold.
He told me the car had been paid for and picked up by a transporter, who was taking it to
Germany for its new owner!
Any remaining Goliath’s left will almost reside in Germany and most will have been restored.
I imagine the parts availability for these is somewhat precarious these days.
I couldn’t find any at the time of writing, for sale, other than the one mentioned, but a pristine
Goliath will cost a small fortune if you can get one.
German ebay is probably the best bet, although Goliath’s sold very well in Australia and have
A following there.
There’s no doubt that Carl Borgward was an immensely talented Engineer, who made many
Quality cars that were always amongst the best in Germany.
He made many four stroke cars also and for these he is undoubtedly renowned for, but
Less is widely known about his two stroke creations.
The Gp 700 or 900 is definitely one for the wish list!.