One can never have too much of highly useful trivial knowledge. Post-war Germany introduced us to several interesting engineering breakthroughs, and one in particular was named in a manner where it was quite clear that it was the resulting product of big dreams and even bigger goals…
As I’m sure we will all be aware, the average conversation at any pleasingly social cocktail party requires a broad amount of trivial knowledge to ensure that smalltalk never ceases. Only last Friday, I offered you a bit of ammunition for such occasions with an explanation on the small black dots surrounding the edges of windscreens on most youngtimers. Today we will expand and take it to the next step. Often the trained cocktail party conversationalist will at some point during the evening lead the conversation towards one of two subjects. Either the many joys of the functional squeegee, or – at least for the typical ViaRETRO reader – perhaps more likely the invention of Bosch’s direct fuel injection system. It’s a fabulous subject which is naturally widely discussed. This ground-breaking invention to aid the fuel supply of automobile engines was truly canonised by the almighty Mercedes-Benz 300SL – yes, the one with gullwing doors – during the early fifties. But as we so often find here at ViaRETRO, reality can be presented in a somewhat obscured light, as someone else always came before those who we thought came first. Sometimes, someone even came before those who we were surprised to find came before those we thought came first.
So in an attempt to nail that useful trivia when discussing the aforementioned fuel injection system, I have now understood that there seems to be two car manufacturers who share the honour of first using the system. Both are indeed German, but neither is Mercedes-Benz. One is Gutbrod – a small company which produced a variety of agricultural equipment, and from the early fifties onwards even a proper automobile. It was small and practical, and was designed as a cheap way of getting the Germans back on the road.
The other manufacturer was also German and even shared the same first letter for their name: Goliath. The name was biblical and suggested grand ambitions from the car manufacturer. According to the biblical stories, Goliath was a Philistine giant equipped with armour and javelin. However, the giant was killed in a dual by a single rock from a slingshot sent on its way by the young shepherd, David, who was later to become King of Israel.
Why this particular story was chosen to lend its name to the car manufacturer can easily seem decidedly odd today. Especially as we know that much like the biblical giant, no hugely successful and sustainable company came from all their efforts.
Yet it was in fact the esteemed Carl F. W. Borgward who provided the initiative for the company Goliath-Werke Borgward & Co. which was first registered in 1928. I’m convinced that Herr Borgward won’t require further presentation among our ViaRETRO readers. While Borgward cars are a thing of the past, the historical significance of his many merits have been widely discussed before and must surely be regarded as common knowledge. Goliath was put into this world by Herr Borgward to produce small three-wheeled delivery trucks and eventually even family saloons for the middle class.
As early as 1931, they introduced a small three-wheeled car which equally wasn’t given the most humble of model names: Goliath Pionier. Despite what the name may suggest, the picture below clearly shows that it was a fairly rudimentary contraption.
Shortly after this, Germany commenced implementing what they called a new world order. Needless to say, they quite rapidly met some resistance and subsequently started a bit of a war. This of course brought on significant restructuring at Goliath which thoroughly changed their future visions at the time. For a number of years, their entire production catered for the military. But as the fresh new decade of the fifties rolled in, Goliath were ready with a brand new car for the people: the Goliath GP700. This time around it had all of four wheels. It was also equipped with a 2-cylinder water-cooled two-stroke engine with Bosch fuel injection. The engine was transverse mounted and might even have been inspiration for Alec Issigonis, when he the following decade developed his iconic Mini.
In 1955 they introduced a new model: the GP900 based on the same technic and general constriction as the predecessor. Then two years later, Goliath upgraded to a four-stroke engine with the GP1100, which was however quickly rebadged to be sold under the name Hansa 1100 as there were concerns in management that sales would suffer from the link with Goliath’s old three-wheeled image.
They stuck with the Hansa name for some years until the whole Borgward empire collapsed in 1961 and pulled Goliath with them into the ashes. The German brand never grew into the giant they so wanted to be. Yet I’m sure if you look hard enough, you’ll find remains of Goliath ingrained into the German car industry.
ViaRETRO bonus-information: As we here at ViaRETRO certainly don’t wish to be associated with “fake news”, we find it worthwhile bringing to the attention of our readers that the combat between David and Goliath in truth wasn’t really fair at all. Of course, everyone knows that! But in reality, the odds played to David’s advantage – NOT Goliath’s! A well-trained slingshooter can send his projectiles flying with huge precision and power. The stones in the Elah Valley – where the legendary dual took place – consist primarily of barium sulphate which gives them a very high density. According to ballistics experts, combining such a rock with a slingshot speed of up to 35 m/s, equates roughly to being hit by a Calibre 45 bullet.