Thanks to Barn Finds reader and fan, Scott S., for tracking down this one! This is an unusual vehicle, to say the least: it’s a 1958 Goggomobil TS400 Race Car that was raced by none other than the father of the CBS evening news: Walter Cronkite! It’s listed on eBay in Pompano Beach, Florida and it’s barely out of the first turn at around $5,000 in bids, with a finish line Buy It Now price of $39,995 – waaaaaaay in the distance. Those bidders had better step on it!
I’ve always wanted a Goggomobil of any style, if I may use that word to describe a Goggomobil. But, this particular Goggomobil would be the centerpiece of anyone’s wacky microcar collection. Mr. Cronkite actually drove this car at Lime Rock Park in 1958 in the “Little LeMans” race. Unfortunately, he and his co-driver, Frank Macauley, were the first team to exit the race with a “flat battery” and they came in 24th. But, still, that’s a cool little piece of history.
Uncle Walter was a true car guy, in fact he liked vehicles and racing of all kinds. I associate him more with his sailing activities than with car racing, but here’s a fantastic YouTube video showing him in an Austin-Healey in 1962 talking about cars and sports cars, specifically. He raced during the 1950s including the 12 hours of Sebring in 1959 and the Little LeMans at Lime Rock several times, mostly in a Volvo PV444 in which he won first in his class and third overall. In 1962 he became the anchor of the CBS Evening News and became an American icon. That’s also when he had to give up racing, as per a directive from his bosses at CBS who knew that racing was too dangerous to gamble on having him get hurt and lose his position at the anchor desk. But, in the 1959 Sebring race he went up against such names as Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, and another gentleman you may have heard of: Stirling Moss. Mr. Cronkite took fifth in his class driving a Lancia Appia Zagato; so yeah, he knew his stuff.
As you can see, this isn’t your standard Goggomobil, if there is such a thing as a standard Goggomobil.. I love these little two-cycle cars. Old Ironpants (another nickname of Mr. Cronkite) is undoubtedly a big reason why this car has such a following, and such a big price tag. The interior has been stripped of unnecessary hardware and panels and all seats but the driver’s seat, all glass has been removed except for the windshield, a fuel cell has been added in place of the standard gas tank, etc. For a car that weighed under 1,000 with all of those things still attached, this one must really be light!
The TS400 is named for its 400, or 392 cc, two-cylinder, two-stroke, air-cooled engine with about 18.5 hp! This car had about 4 hp more than the TS300 had the previous year. That doesn’t seem like a big increase in power, but a 22% increase in power is pretty nice for any size engine. This car has been restored to “concours standards” back to how it was when The Most Trusted Man in America drove it. It really belongs in a museum, hopefully it’ll end up in one so folks can see it without having it go into hiding in someone’s private collection. I would love to drive this car, around a track, at full speed.. Would any of you like to take this car around a race track or do prefer 3-4-5-6-8-10-12-16 cylinders in your race cars?