Rare Rides: The 1959 Goggomobil Dart, Tiny Roadster Sans Doors
Today’s Rare Ride is an obscure variant of an already obscure microcar. The Dart you see here was an Australian-designed and built version of the Glas Goggomobil.
We’ve featured Glas cars in two installments of Rare Rides twice previously. The first example was a luxurious 2600 V8 coupe, followed up late last year by the much more mainstream 1304 shooting brake.
The car underneath this roadster body is perhaps the most well-known Glas, the Goggomobil. A very small city car, the Goggomobil was the first car produced by Glas and went on sale in 1955. Available in several body styles, the Goggomobil lacked an exciting roadster variant. The Glas is worth a Rare Ride of its own, so we won’t delve too far into it today.
The story of the Dart began at Buckle Motors, a large Australian car dealership chain. Bill Buckle the senior established his dealership selling Triumph and Talbot cars in 1927. The business grew steadily, and Buckle’s son, Bill Buckle Jr., convinced the management of Buckle Motors to build its own sports car. The idea was inspired by a visit to the London Motor Show in 1953, where many a fiberglass sports car was on display. Management agreed, and Buckle’s first car was the Buckle 2.5 Litre, manufactured in New South Wales and based on a Ford Zephyr. We’re racking up the Rare Rides entries today.
After the 2.5 Litre, Mr. Buckle realized that import taxation could be avoided if a chassis was imported to Australia instead of a complete vehicle. With this in mind, he knew the car he wanted to use and went off to Bavaria to strike a deal with Glas. Glas agreed to send Goggomobil chassis across the sea to Australia, and the Dart was on its way.
Buckle himself designed the fiberglass roadster body, which consisted almost entirely of smooth edges and lacked doors. Of note: At least one (above) had doors added after the fact to improve usability. It seated only two people and had a very small canvas roof to keep out the rain. There was no trunk as the engine was in the rear, but there was storage in the nose, accessed from inside the passenger compartment. The design entered production in 1959 and was again built in New South Wales.
A very lightweight vehicle, the Dart weighed just 761 pounds. It had an overall length of 120 inches, and a width of just 54 inches. Power was provided by one of three two-stroke two-cylinder engines, in 300-, 392-, or 400-cc displacements. Power ranged from 14 to 18 horses. All shifted their big power through a four-speed manual.
The Dart project was a mild success, and about 700 examples were made by the time the project completed. Though the Dart was the company’s most successful offering, Buckle would go on to build a Goggomobil-based van, and a take on the Mini called Mini Monaco. Today the business is called Bill Buckle Auto Group and sells Toyota, Subaru, and Volkswagen vehicles to the Australian populace.
Today’s Rare Ride is one of about 100 estimated to exist in present times. A lovely orange and grey example, it’s in excellent condition and located in Germany. Yours for $59,665.
[Images: Buckle Motors, YouTube]
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