A much-derided, now defunct German carmaker comes under the spotlight.
A simple yet honest emblem: name, white and red stripes, triangle. Mathematically sound, an engineers friend, a car company that had two bites of the cherry only to be swallowed up due to that thorny old subject of filthy lucre. Some history: The Bremen based shipping company Norddeutscher Lloyd took the automotive plunge as it were in 1908, building electric powered vehicles under license. Petrol engines soon followed, as did a merger with Hansa in order to become Hansa-Lloyd Werke AG in 1914.
Handfuls of cars (finances were never strong) and commercial vehicles were built up to the year 1929 when Carl Borgward took over the company, merging them into his already burgeoning engineering empire. Car production paused until after the Second World War when the name Lloyd was resurrected with small, economical and reliable cars that an emerging Germany needed badly.
Funded by Borgward, the Lloyd Motoren Werke AG products were designed to fit beneath Borgward’s own range. Steel was in short supply, the LP 300’s bodywork consisted of plywood veneered with kunstleder a vinyl (or equivalent) which soon earned the sobriquet band aid bomber due to medical tape being particularly effective for bodywork repairs.
The mechanical side consisted of that 293 cc transverse fitted two-stroke engine complemented by three forward gears mounted inline. Front wheel drive and rear swing axle suspension soon found favour with those more adept at steering manoeuvres but three more rather derisory nicknames would follow the two-door saloons and their later siblings.
The first being Prüfungsangst-Lloyd or “Lloyd for exam nerves” where older drivers did not have to pass the new driving test. Swiftly following was Wer den Tod nicht scheut, fährt Lloyd “He who is not afraid of death, drives a Lloyd“. And of course, (literally) bringing up the rear with “stands at the foot of the mountains, howling” referring to the gutless power output. Suicide doors may (or may not) have assisted these derogatory feelings.
However, sales started well and rather took off. What Pomeroy and Walker discovered at the 1951 show was swiftly updated. An estate (LS), Van (LK) and rather dinky coupé (LC) retained the mechanical aspects for the first few years of production and helped Lloyd become something of a big hitter – only cars made in Wolfsburg and Russelsheim sold more by 1955. Thoughts turned to export with those proudly wearing the triangular badge headed out to other parts of mainland Europe and to further shores – America, more of which, presently.
Original models were pared to the bone (though purchasers often ticked the options box to upgrade such items as bumpers, hub-caps and rear seats); with decent sales, these items became standard fit. The range now included a soft-hood cabriolet and by the mid ‘50s a four stroke air cooled motor propelled power outputs accordingly – 600 cc then almost 900 cc by the close of the decade.
Add in a known designer, Pietro Frua who based his coupé on the (now named) Alexander TS (Touring Sport) pushed sales far and wide. Milwaukee’s population having a large German contingent saw the biggest stateside success but sales remained strong across the US from 1955-59. These pocket rockets even managed to hit Australian tarmac, a joint Borgward/ Lawrence Hartnett venture saw approximately three thousand LP 600’s built and sold down under from the late fifties to 1962.
After the war, materials required to build a car were doled out irrespective of company size. Steel was used for the whole car’s construction from the LP 400. The Lloyd cars could also be adorned with chromed pieces such as the Alexander name on the sides, grille, indicator surrounds along with the centre bonnet line as an obvious nod to the USA’s jet-age styling on vehicles far larger over there. The extra weight nullified somewhat the nineteen horsepower.
The 600 became the flagship model with its 62 mph capability from the 19bhp mill. Four speed gearboxes became standard on the van, estate and cabriolet versions slightly later. Longer wheelbases could be had to seat six, or as a caravan/camper yet keeping the two door format. In my research, I have noted some versions ditched the triangle badge for the Lloyd name to fit at the bonnet’s front edge.
Handsome, capable and reliable, Lloyd cars had carved out more than a niche product. 21,000 250 and 300 LP, LS and LC’s were made. The 110,000 produced 400 versions were second only to the 600s and Alexanders weighing in at 176,000 which came at the latter end of Lloyd’s days.
Herr Borgward had bigger plans, the Lloyd Arabella, a proper saloon he saw as the key to take on the might of Mercedes. Brought to life in under two years, this one tonne (loaded) boxer engined 38bhp all new design swallowed much of his investment capital to the point that the name Lloyd became defunct by 1961. Lloyd cars were still made up to their eventual demise in ‘63, badged now as Borgward. They even managed a de Luxe Arabella variant – selling 47,000 overall examples – but a trickle to the Star’s output.
Bankruptcy extinguished the Borgward and therefore Lloyd light that had shone so brightly for but a decade. As to the Welsh connection; there really isn’t one. Barring that very popular Brittonic surname, there was a Lloyd Cars Ltd of Grimsby, North Lincolnshire who had no connection to this stout little German purveyor of popular and respected cars – regardless of the taunts.
Data sources: curbsideclassic.com, and the UK Lloyd website which holds a plethora of information for those wanting more, including the British Lloyd car.