The Welsh Sounding Car Company. From Germany

A much-derided, now defunct German carmaker comes under the spotlight. 

Image: Curbside Classic

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.

Lloyd factory. (c) lloydselig.com

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 LloydHe 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.

Lloyd Alexander. Image: Curbside Classic

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.

(c) lloydselig.com

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.

(c) auto motor und sport

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.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

26 thoughts on “The Welsh Sounding Car Company. From Germany”

  1. Although it is said that Borgward can survive in 1961 with only a small amount of assistance
    If there is no fundamental change in the company structure, it will only be sooner or later
    Borgward managed three brands and four platforms,with a annual output at less than 100k per year
    Competed with Volkswagen、Opel、Mercedes at the same time
    Unfortunately, BMC did not acquire Borgward in 1961,not only could saved Borgward, possible to save themself, too

  2. Borgward was sabotaged by certain banks, politicians and bureaucrats allied to its competitors- one key one in particular.

    1. That’s a conspiracy myth Borgwardians cultivate to this very day. A dark alliance between banks and competitors to get CFW out of the way. It’s true that CFW did not have too many friends, particularly not in the Senate of the Free Hanse City Bremen that used the first opportunity to get rid of the autocratic man.
      The big question is whether the denied credit would have sufficed to salvage Borgward. The bitter truth mose probably is that with that credit Borgward would have gone bankrupt later.

  3. Up to 1954 Germany had a driver’s license category that allowed you to drive anything on two or four wheels as long as it had no more than 250cc. For this kind of driver’s license you didn’t need driving lessons and the driving test was a paper exam only so it all came at very little cost and was very popular at the time post-war Germany got mobile again.
    That’s why there were so many German cars with 250cc and after these had ceased production there still was a market for such cars into the late Seventies or early Eighties (Goggomobil stayed in production until 1969). Companies like Steinwinter put Goggomobil engines into Fiat 500s or ripped one piston and con rod out of the 500’s engine to provide elderly drivers with cars fitting their license.
    All these 250cc vehicles were called “Prüfungsangst-Auto” because their drivers didn’t want to take the risk of not passing a driving test for a proper license.

    The Lloyd Alexander with four stroke engine were considered quality products like BMW 700 or NSU Prinz 600 with proper (four stroke) engines.

    1. Thanks for explaining the 250cc vehicles that appeared in Germany, seem to recall reading about Honda making a version of the Honda Z360 with a reduced 242cc engine.

      Did any other Japanese carmakers follow Honda in adapting their Kei Cars to meet the German 250cc vehicle segment?

      Was any consideration given to increasing the 250cc limit to become more aligned with the 350cc generation Kei Cars? Apart from its width and engine size the closest thing to a European Kei Car would have to be the 1957 Fiat 500, with the smallest displacement achieved for the 500’s 2-cylinder engine being in post fuel-crisis 16.5 hp 390cc guise for the short-lived 1974 Giannini 350 EC.

    2. The end of this special category of driver’s licence came in 1954. The reason it existed at all was completely different from the considerations that led to Kei cars. The purpose of the siplified licence was to get people on wheels, not to define a 250cc category of cars and therefore there were no considerations of increasing the capacity limit. Once people had grown out of their 250cc motorcycles (for which this licence was used far more often than for cars) they got a full licence for proper cars and this category was simply abandoned.

  4. Good morning Andrew and thank you for bringing us the story of a marque that was completely unknown to me. Your mention of a six-seater intrigued me, and here it is:

    It is rather charming, don’t you think?

    1. I like it Daniel, especially with that color scheme. It may not have classical beauty, but it is endearing. I have a soft spot for vintage people carriers such as this one.

  5. It’s certainly got character – but charm…? Thank you Andrew for another venture into the obscure and interesting; Dave, too, for the German driving licence information – DTW is proof that you can learn something new every day. Just over a year ago I was supposedly reliably informed (someone here may know better) that the Subaru boxer engine was developed by a group of ex-Nakajuma aircraft engineers who had bought and studied an Arabella. Now there’s an interesting train of thought on which to ponder….

    The Grimsby Lloyd was the creation of one Roland Lloyd, the son of a local garage owner. His pre-war vehicle had a 350cc Villiers 2-stroke engine which drove the near-side rear which by chain; the post-war car (1946-50) had a 2-cylinder 650cc unit designed in-house. As Andrew says, no connection whatsoever with Lloyd/Borgward; the firm came and went almost unnoticed.

  6. Its remarkable how little the artist’s impression of the Lloyd 600 resembles the real thing. Borgward’s publicity material was some of the best in the industry, but like everyone else in the ’50s and ’60s, they did take put a fair bit of artistic licence.

    An unintended resonance of Borgward’s design was that the LP400 defined the Japanese kei car class or “People’s Car Program” established by Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). The first Suzuki ‘Suzulight’ was a near copy, with engine capacity reduced to just under 360cc.

    One small observation – the 600cc ohc twin stayed with that capacity for its production life. The 900cc engine was the water-cooled flat four in the Arabella. Borgward planned to use the 600cc twin in the Arabella, but customer performance expectations and competitor’s power outputs had advanced rapidly by the late ’50s, and a bigger engine was needed. The 1100cc Goliath flat four was too big, and Arabella chassis and bodywork tooling was already ordered. Within the space of a year an all new flat-four and transaxle were designed and put into production. The new engine was actually pretty good, the gearbox wasn’t up to the job and was rapidly replaced with Goliath / Hansa 1100 transaxle.

  7. ‘Lloyd cars were still made up to their eventual demise in ’63, badged now as Wartburg’ – is that right? Not Borgward?

    1. Thanks for that Jonathan. You are correct. This was a typo, now fixed.

    2. In East Germany was DKW renamed Wartburg. Two-stroke Lloyd was Trabant.

  8. Excellent article Andrew about something I knew absolutely nothing about. Keep up the good work please.

  9. Thanks Dave for the link to that Lloyd webpage, it’s got some really cool material to browse for hours and kill any work productivity left in your day 🙂

    I browsed through the owner’s manual with the positively proud smiling character on the cover. This tidbit got my attention and made me chuckle outloud:

    “Don’t be afraid of punctures. Punctures have become a rarity since horseshoe nails are hardly found on the road nowadays…”. Love it!!

    1. Yes, they’re marvellous. They’re very professionally done, but also have (deliberate) humour in them and cartoons to lighten the mood, alongside the text and pictures. The text is encouraging, without being patronizing. I wonder if anything like this is produced, these days.

  10. I gather Carl Borward kept his Lloyd, Goliath, and Borward companies separate in order to get better allocation of steel from the government, even though it increased overheads.

  11. Very interesting article indeed, thank you, Andrew. Like so many DTW articles, it prompted me to go and find out a bit more about aspects that intrigued me.

    I wondered why they used ‘Lloyd’ as a brand name, and it just means ‘shipping company’. The modern day company Hapag-Lloyd is related, so I’ll think of the cars next time I see their name.

    The triangular Lloyd car logo is very distinctive – I wonder when it came in to being. It has a weirdly contemporary feel, to me.

    The cars themselves are pretty neat. Some remind me somewhat of a cross between Škodas of the time and some of the Rootes Group products, such as the Minx. The wheels look relatively large – I wonder if that’s because the cars are small and it’s an illusion, or perhaps they wanted good ground clearance.

    I’ll enjoy looking at the Lloyd site.

  12. Well Andrew, this is a new one on me. Glad they moved to steel construction, rather than plywood and sticky backed plastic 🤣. I’d be a little nervous driving around on one of the early models.
    Thanks for posting smiths great article. 👍🏻

  13. One fascinating aspect of Lloyd and Borgward would be the posthumous role they indirectly played with the Suzuki Suzulight via the Lloyd P400, Suzuki EA Flat-Four via the Lloyd later Borgward Arabella and the Glas 1700 via the Pietro Frua styling of the stillborn Borgward Hansa 1300 and stillborn Borgward Isabella P90 prototypes.

    https://www.borgward.org.uk/Marius%20Venz.htm

    1. As far as I know, P90 was the 4-cylinder version of P100, not the successor of Isabella

    2. My bad that is indeed the case. Other pieces of info suggest the P90 was a P100 with a 4-cylinder “next generation Isabella engine” and without air suspension and less chrome parts etc. Which was to be complemented by an even smaller P75 equipped with an ordinary Isabella TS engine prior to Borgward’s collapse.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.