Glas, the incredible gamble

Based in Dingolfing, Glas produced cars for 18 years, evolving very quickly, before being absorbed by a famous Bavarian firm.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Marcus Glas opened his first workshop for the repair of agricultural machinery in the town of Pilsting. The successful family business was taken over by his son, Andreas, who opened a branch for the manufacture of seed drills in Dingolfing in 1905.

In 1908, all the company's activities were transferred to the same town. Hans, Andreas' son, worked for a time in Canada in the field of agricultural machinery, before moving to the USA after the stock market crash of 1929. He became production manager for Indian motorbikes and, after the Second World War, bought out his father's company, which had become the world's leading manufacturer of seed drills.

On two, then four wheels

In 1949, Andreas Glas, the boss's son, had the opportunity to try out a Vespa at a trade fair in Italy. He saw the scooter as a commercial success in Europe at a time when Europe needed to be motorised. Despite his father's reluctance, Andreas had his team build three prototypes. The tests proved successful and mass production began in 1951. It was a great hit and several versions of the scooter were developed.

Very quickly, the company worked on a concept for a vehicle that would protect its occupants from the elements, riding the wave of microcars. Thus, in 1955, the Goggomobil was born, a car with a two-cylinder, two-stroke, air-cooled engine. The car was very spartan at first, but in 1957 it was equipped with a second windscreen wiper and hinged windows.

A saloon and a coupé were marketed, both with a choice of 250 or 300 cc displacement. From 1957, a 400 cc engine was also available, as well as a utility version ideal for urban deliveries.

The serious stuff...

The success of the Goggomobil prompted the company to develop 'real' cars to compete with popular models such as the Volkswagen and the Ford Anglia. The Goggomobil T600 was presented in 1957 at the Frankfurt Motor Show: this blandly styled saloon suffered from average reliability. A more powerful T700 version (30 hp) was added to the catalogue.

To distinguish itself from the microcar, the car was renamed Isar and a station wagon (K) was launched. In the early 1960s, Glas had to change its image and needed a new, more modern and more serious range. The S 1004 coupé, which was also available as a convertible, introduced a new liquid-cooled four-cylinder engine, the first in the history of the automobile to have a timing belt.

A 1204 saloon was subsequently marketed to meet customer demand, while its capacity was increased to 1.2 litres. From 1963 onwards, the power output of the Glas 1.0 and 1.2 increased and the fastest versions reached 160 km/h, which was enough to compete with the more expensive Alfa Romeo. The German brand also distinguished itself with a 3-door hatchback version of its model, a rare choice at the time.

The peak

In 1963, the Glas stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show was abuzz with excitement: the new 1300 GT, a lovely coupé designed by Pietro Frua, was presented. Under the bonnet was the engine of the S 1004, which has been upgraded to 1.3 litres and produces 75 hp.

Capable of reaching 170 km/h, the 1300 GT was available as a convertible from 1964. To improve sales, a saloon was designed by Frua. The engine was increased to 1.7 litres and developed 100 hp. Naturally, this engine was adopted by the coupé and cabriolet. Following the success of the 1300, Glas thought big and designed a luxurious coupé, powered by a V8 engine and whose styling was once again entrusted to Pietro Frua.

The result was the 2600 in 1965, a car whose styling was very similar to that of the Maserati Quattroporte. It had two overhead camshafts and a V8 engine developing 150 bhp. A 3-litre version was also sold in small quantities: with its 160 bhp, this engine allowed the coupé to exceed 200 km/h in top speed, a first for Glas!


Although business was good for Glas, production costs were difficult to control. Despite a spectacular development in a very short time, the company was bought by BMW on 10 November 1966. For the Bavarian manufacturer, Glas represented an opportunity to increase its production capacity quickly and at low cost.

For a time, Glas products were rebadged as BMWs, as with the 1700 GT, which became the BMW 1600 Coupé. In 1969 the last Goggomobil was produced and the Glas brand disappeared for good. The Dingolfing factory was given a new lease of life as the birthplace of the new BMW 5 Series.

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