Project or Parts? 1958 Goggomobil TS400 Coupe

For a certain segment of our Australian Barn Finds readership, the sight of this 1958 Goggomobil TS400 Coupe will immediately generate some fond memories. A similar car, albeit in far better condition, was the star of a 1992 television advertising campaign for the country’s Yellow Pages telephone directory. So recognizable is this ad that even today, the section where the owner spells the name of the car’s make remains an iconic part of Australian culture. This little TS400 has fallen on hard times, and the owner debates whether its future is a restoration project or a parts car. It might be cheap, but in its current state, it is far from cheerful. However, if you think you have what it would take to return this classic to its former glory, you will find it located in Lincoln, Nebraska, and listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the BIN at $2,000, although he also is open to offers.

This poor little Goggomobil has seen better days, with Cream paint that has peeled away and surface corrosion as far as the eye can see. That is the least of its problems because the owner indicates that it has rust for the buyer to tackle. I can see some obvious spots in the rear quarter panels and rockers, but a skilled owner could address these with patches if they cannot locate replacement panels. It isn’t clear whether there is any rust in the floors, but even if there is, addressing it should be no more complicated than for any other car from this era. All of the exterior trim is present, and I think that most of it would present nicely after a trip to the platers. The most significant barrier that the buyer is likely to face will be sourcing a replacement for the missing rear window. Locating one in the US might be a major hurdle, but companies in the UK can supply them and are willing to ship internationally. It will still cost a pretty penny, but when you begin to consider the potential value of this little gem once restored, it might be money well-spent.

In keeping with its microcar credentials, the Goggomobil offers a tiny engine with a power output that could diplomatically be referred to as modest. However, from a positive perspective, the TS400 offers potential buyers what could be considered the “big-block” motor. Of course, that term is relative, with the engine bay occupied by a 392cc twin-cylinder air-cooled two-stroke motor that would pump out 20hp. All of those rampant German ponies are fed to the rear wheels via a 4-speed transmission. That isn’t a recipe for high-performance, although the car’s overall weight of 1,587lbs means that it was surprisingly lively. Pointed at a ¼ mile, the journey would take 24.1 seconds. If the driver were brave enough, the little two-pot would scream its way to 65mph. That might not set your heart racing, but when you consider that the entire motor would fit into a single-cylinder of many domestic offerings of the day, it isn’t that bad. It’s no surprise that this motor doesn’t run, and it isn’t clear whether it turns freely. However, they aren’t complicated units, so rebuilding it might not be an issue. Once again, several companies in Britain can supply parts, and a surprising number of internet sites hold workshop manuals to assist in this undertaking.

When you slip behind the wheel of a TS400, there’s little chance that you’ll mistake the experience for gliding down the road in a Cadillac. Interior equipment and trim levels were pretty basic, and this was to save both weight and cost. The “Not Available” list included such luxuries as air conditioning, a radio, and power assistance for windows, locks, or seats. For potential buyers, there is a sliver of good news with this car. The interior is essentially complete, with the seat frames present and enough of the door trims intact that they could serve as templates to make replacements. Whipping the interior into shape will almost certainly mean that the buyer will have to hand-make items like door trims and seat covers, but the wheel and dash could be restored in a home workshop. There is nothing complicated about the trim, so it is likely to consume more time than money to return to its best.

For those who have never seen it, I can offer this YouTube video which demonstrates why the Goggomobil has become such a significant part of Australian culture. For those outside Australia, the 1958 TS400 is probably more of a curiosity. Microcars have a strong following, and I would be willing to bet that we’ll have a few readers who would love nothing more than to get their hands on this little beauty. As a project car, there’s a lot that is attractive about vehicles like this. Their diminutive size means that they take up a minimal amount of workshop space. The engineering for the TS400 is pretty basic, so a competent person can complete many mechanical restoration tasks in a home workshop. Then there’s the question of potential values once the work is completed. Hagerty quotes an eye-watering $50,000 for a pristine example, while they suggest $27,000 for a #3 car. I tend to take those figures with a grain of salt, but nailing down a definitive figure is difficult because they don’t come to market that often. However, those that do seem to sell quickly for figures of more than $30,000 if they are spotless. The owner has a BIN of $2,000 on this one, and if the buyer is willing to perform most of the work themselves, that leaves a lot of room to move before the financial viability of this project comes into question. With that thought in mind, are you likely to become a microcar convert?


  1. Will Fox

    Back window is missing. Goooood luck finding one of those…..

    Like 2
  2. Steve Clinton

    Looks like a No-gomobil.

    Like 5
  3. Derek

    Strokers’re fab. Out with the files…!

    Like 0
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    Slice it lengthwise, hang half of it on the garage wall….

    Like 5
  5. Trevor

    I’m more interested in the FJ 40 in the background. This was posted a couple weeks ago I (google earth) the address in Nebraska it’s a used car lot could not see this sitting behind it

    Like 0
  6. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    I happen to have found an older Goggomobile in a scrapyard in central Germany back in 1975, and I was able to talk the yard owner into letting me grab the front 2-piece ornament, and the tiny grill opening in the back. I’ve still got ’em if someone needs ’em.

    Like 1
  7. Gerard Frederick

    It is said that Lord Snowdon, husband of Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth drove one , even to royal functions. When the family, understandably rather miffed by this, asked him why on earth he was driving himself in this german contraption rather than being chauffered about in a Daimler he is said to have replied: ¨When british industry builts a car as reliable as the Goggomobil, I will. If that story is historical I don´t know, but given Lord Snodon´s attitude I wouldn´t be surprised. This little car was ubiquitous in Germany in its day and would be found on the autobahns as well as in the cities. The engine was designed by the same engineer who designed the Adler motorcycle SB 250, which was reborn in England as the Ariel Leader. The Goggomoibil Coupe in black with a red interior was good looking little tyke.

    Like 2
  8. Richard Haner

    blown hemi,on a tube chassis would be about right…;-)….

    Like 1

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