Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

The best bread never lasts.

Gutbrod Superior. Image: Motor-car.net

For a company that claims to have brought mass produced direct petrol injection to the engine world, few have heard or remember the short lived German firm of Gutbrod – the English translation being good bread. If Lloyd were a flash in the pan for their eleven years, Gutbrod was the mayfly – forty two months and gone.

Founded in Ludwigsburg 1926 by Wilhelm Gutbrod, their initial wares were motorcycles under the Standard brand name. Light agricultural machinery soon followed as did their first car – the rear engined Standard Superior. Expansion saw them move to Feurbach, a district of Stuttgart, come 1933. Similar to their Lloyd counterparts, the Gutbrod name laid pretty much dormant (aside for military purposes) until after the war when the nation grasped for transportation.

Relocation to Plochingen am Neckar in 1949 saw the Gutbrod name resurrected and the Calw factory begin production. Their first post-war pre-production model, was named 600 – rather decadently being a convertible! The entire cloth roof could be retracted which one could expect the car’s frame to shudder, although I have yet to read a report acknowledging this.

 

With its diminutive dimensions: 3.6 metres long (with a two metre wheelbase), just less than 1.5 metres wide and standing a full 1.4 metres high with its water cooled two cylinder, 583 cc two stroke engines with carburettor producing around 25bhp, the model cost Dm 3,990. The Luxus 700 model with the 663 cc plant pushing an extra eight horsepower, arrived later in 1953 could be had for Dm 4,380.

Running before they could really walk, Gutbrod had early ideas above their station. For 8,000 Deutschmarks, a Wendler bodied roadster named Superior Sport could be had, an unwise and untimely decision as only twelve were sold and vital cash assets were lost developing this handsome enough dead-end.

gutbrod
The Wendler bodied Superior Sport. Image: Coachbuild.com.

Walter Gutbrod (his father and company founder, passed away in 1948) must have held some sway in engineering and monetary terms, enticing technical director Dr. Hans Scherenberg from Mercedes at the very beginning. After the war, the Allies had put a halt to all production, including engine development.

Scherenberg took on the role of introducing direct petrol injection to the tiny cars engines – this upped output to 30 bhp. The technology was not new; surfacing near the beginning of the twentieth century, it took the might of Bosch along with Scherenberg’s know how to achieve mass production for the re-emerging German car industry.

Utilising a diesel high pressure pump combined with an air intake throttle linkage, with a separate tank for engine oil, this was blended by the system; the owner no longer having to combine his own oil/ petrol mixture. And this pre-dates Mercedes’ own systems by some two years, although Scherenberg became frustrated at Gutbrod, returning to Stuttgart-Sindelfingen in 1952.

Contemporary reports state a car with very decent handling, a turn of speed (more in a moment) but best to keep below 80Kmh if you wished to hold a conversation with your (extremely close) passenger as interior noise became excessive. Speeds for such a small fry depended on how the fuel was metered out. With the carburettor, roughly 110Kmh could be achieved by the brave. The foolhardy FSI powered driver might add another five, downhill with tailwind. Station wagons being naturally a little slower due to their heavier stance.

Initial examples had coach doors, but late in ‘51 the decision was taken to use conventional openings, adding such luxurious items as carpets. Consider the chrome laden behemoths that the United States were building to contrast with that last sentence – the gulf of excess. Even Blighty’s wares, although austere were at least accommodating. The next Gutbrod level of decadence was a boot flap, as lid really is far too strong a description here.

For the entire 7,726 production run, the chassis was that of a “forward bifurcated central tube frame.” Drum brakes all round attached to coil sprung suspension. The styling may have influenced the (much later) Nissan Figaro, or possibly something out of Enid Blyton. Regardless, Gutbrod’s coffers ran dry in 1954. Bankrupt, the Gutbrod car dream was over.

gutbrod
Image: Motor-car.net.

The German light of Gutbrod may have been extinguished but there was a minute glimmer from more northerly regions – the Troll car from Norway. Having a two year production run from 1956-58 is again notable for its brevity, along with a non-committal government leaving the Troll & Plastik Bilindustri company caught as a fly in the web.

The Troll Car. Image: Digitalmuseum.no.

Just five examples were made. Engineer Per Kohl-Larsen secured the German moulds, bringing Gutbrod chassis and extending them. Hans Trippel is deemed the Troll’s designer, he of Gullwing door and director of the Bugatti atelier during wartime, fame. Fibreglass bodywork styling that perhaps only a mother could love was not the cars undoing –  plans being hatched for up to 2,000 per year with all but fifteen planned for export to Denmark and back to Germany.

The Norwegian government permit only allowed those fifteen homespun affairs, fearful of upsetting a long standing barter arrangement between Europe and Russia for Norway’s fish.

With halted investment, this company also went bankrupt early in 1958, closing the door on this slice of German car history for good.

Data sources: motor-car.net, wartburg353knight.blogspot.com

Author: Andrew Miles

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

20 thoughts on “Best Thing Since Sliced Bread”

  1. Dr. Scherenberg knew direct injection designs from his work on Daimler aero engines – he was responsible for development of the DB601. Like these engines the Gutbrod (and later M198) had injectors that were protected from the combustion pressure by having the piston in frontvof them at the moment of ignition. The Gutbrod had its injection valves in the two stroke transfer ports.

    1. Scherenberg arrived at Gutbrod from Mercedes where the victorious war-time allies had enforced a pause in engine fuel-injection development, and in 1952 he would return to that firm.

    2. There was not so much a ba on development of injection systems but a ban on anything able to fly powered by an engine.
      Bosch continued development of injection sytems and just needed a showcase and most aircraft manufactuers were looking for something else to do like Heinkel cars and scooters and Messerschnmitt bubble cars. Aircraft development concentrated on gliders.

    3. I agree. I don’t know exactly, but Dr. Scherenberg was employed by DB during the war. After the war he worked for Gutbrod and Goliath befor he came back to DB. He had to have a reason for that.

    4. Scherenberg primarily was an academic engineer who got his doctorate in 1942 but in the Thirties was responsible for development of the DB601 before returning to university somewhere around 1935. Post war he worked for Schnürle (of reverse flush two stroke fame) and Gutbrod before going to DB.

    5. The DB601 and 605 successors were the German equivalent to the Rolls Royce Merlin. 33.6 litres/1300 PS (601) or 36.5 litres/1600PS (605) and some of the most reliable piston engines in aircraft with 20,000/40,000 made at 3,000 man hours to build per engine.
      A huge engine with the crankshaft at the top and the cylinders pointing downwards

  2. Good morning Andrew. Another interesting automotive history plucked from obscurity – well done!

    Aren’t those advertising posters lovely things (even the first plays fast and loose with scale)? The advertisers knew thst they were selling a lifestyle as much as the car itself, even back then.

    I’m strangely taken with the Troll car. Perhaps it’s those 300SL wheel arch eyebrows? If only it had gullwing doors!

  3. Morning Andrew. Another car I’d never heard of, well done on the research. The first picture looks like it could have been used to style the later Hillman Californian, very similar lines. Another great Saturday morning breakfast read. What’s next I wonder 🤔

    1. What about Goliath
      “Four short days pass from Turin closing to Frankfurt, the first West German show, opening. Over half a million punters stumped up the 2s 6d (I have no clue) entrance fee to witness products “from just forty manufacturers.” These spread over fourteen halls, “where the home teams devoted huge areas, halls even” to their wares. The largest queues were for the Mercedes 300, but Opel, Ford, VW and DKW “did well.” Seen as perhaps “lesser” marques also drew the crowds; aforementioned Lloyd then Gutbrod and Goliath. “From Gutbrod, 593cc. And Goliath 688cc.” No mention of price, designer nor availability. They were however impressed by “Frankfurt’s dimensions, staging and organisation,” respecting the “great deal of engineering activity” within Germany.”
      https://driventowrite.com/2021/03/17/englishmen-abroad-1951-european-motor-show-review/

    2. If you like obscure German post war makeshift mobility substitutes then there are plenty to choose from.
      Brütsch Mopetta

      Kleinschnittger (no reverse gear but a handle to lift and move it, started by pullin on a rope with a wooden handle)

      Messerschmitt (yes, them), no reverse gear – you start the two stroke engine in the opposite direction and get four of them, nickname was ‘humans in jelly’

      And its four wheeled sport version with up to 140kph – not for the faint hearted

  4. It’s unbelievable what automotive gems are unearthed here on DTW.
    Great article.
    As Daniel noted, the advert does indeed show a completely different vehicle size to reality. Pure fantasy, fascinating.

    (Oh, there’s an “e” missing in “Feuerbach”. A completely unimportant detail that I also only noticed because I went to vocational school there during my apprenticeship).

  5. Afternoon Andrew. I often wonder where you find these hidden gems but it doesn’t really matter as they make such an interesting read. Many thanks again for putting the information out there for us all to enjoy.

  6. Good evening all

    Many thanks for all your additional information which is very much appreciated. I’m learning constantly and never fail to be impressed by who really knows what’s out there; it’s as humbling as it is enlightening. Stay tuned for something Goliath based – coming soon to an uninfluential website near you

  7. Funnily enough, my father still has a Gutbrod lawn mower. And there are echoes of the Superior in Nissan’s Figaro, whose style my wife loves.

  8. Well done! I’d never heard of Gutbrod before.

    How about an insider on Fairthorpe? The British have had all sorts of shed in the back garden attempts at seizing the brass ring of automotive greatness. There must be a dozen all but forgotten such car companies from the fifties and sixties. I fancy a Fairthorpe Rockette myself, but Enid Byton seems to have fixated on the Electron Minor for Noddy and Bigears. Actually, I think Fairthorpe may have copied her considering the timelines! The Electron Minor was of course a styling tour-de-force compared to their first car, the Atom. Google image that one for a quick squint! And then feast your eyes on the Atom Major for a late ’50s fin-fest!

    1. From Sliced Bread to Garden Sheds – wherever next?! I’m not sure about Bill’s dozen but the blobby styling of the Fairthorpe Atom Mk 1 (there were Mk 2 & Mk 3 versions as well, depending upon which single-cylinder BSA motorcycle engine was fitted) makes a nice contrast to the contemporary Rodley Coupé (2-cylinder J.A.P.). But it wasn’t only the British – the French, Germans & Italians were all at it as well (Rosengart, Champion & Panther for starters) though admittedly with rather more panache….

    2. Bill, you’re not kidding about the fins!

      It looks like something from a fairground ride.

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.