West German Alternative: 1974 AWS Shopper

A 1974 WHAT?! You aren’t seeing things, this isn’t some photo magic with a toy car, this 1974 AWS Shopper is an actual car. An actual, real production car. Or, it was, for two years. This super interesting vehicle can be found in Terborg, Netherlands with an asking price of €9.500 ($11,667). It’s listed on the Potomac Classics website. Let’s check this thing out.

Es ist ziemlich süß, oder? I say, it’s pretty cute, right? This is one of the most unusual cars that I have ever seen. I’ve never even seen one in the hidden lower level of Jeff Lane’s Museum outside of Nashville, that’s how rare these cars are. AWS stands for Automobilwerk Walter Schätzle. Herr Schätzle was a prolific Borgward dealer in West Germany and he designed and created the Shopper on a Goggomobil’s floorpan using the Goggomobil T250 two-stroke engine with plastic-coated metal panels that went together with a drill and rivet gun. The AWS Shopper was an alternative to East Germany’s Trabant in some ways.

Now there’s a profile that car designers of today can aspire to. The construction probably isn’t anything for today’s roads with the delicate frame made of square steel tubing covered by thin, flat sheet metal panels. They only came in orange and black so this one must have been painted this ivory color at some point, although the seller says that this is an early prototype. Early Piccolo prototype examples are shown here, for the beach, for hunting, small trucks, industrial transporters, and vans.

They were marketed as a shopping cart for families in an era where small, cheap transportation was popular. You can see how the rear hatch opens. It would have been nice if the top could have been left off for a little air and sun inside. These little cars were made from a prototype constructed around 1970 but production was started in 1973 and ended in 1974 with around 1,700 of them being produced in total in two models, the early Piccolo and the Shopper. This German hobby magazine from 1970 shows a couple of early prototypes with a loosely-translated tagline, “20,000 have already ordered the go-go-car from the kit”.

This almost looks like a 1970s EV interior to me, like a CitiCar. The interior is spartan to the extreme, although there is still a radio and it’s hard to argue with red seats. The seller says that this is a “prototype that served as an example for the other cars in the factory.” Maybe that explains the unusual rear hatch door configuration and the non-orange color?

The chassis and engine would have been from a Goggomobile T-250, a 247cc twin-cylinder two-stroke engine with just under 14 hp. Hey, that’s enough horsepower to have fun, according to these satisfied owners! Have any of you heard of an AWS Shopper? If so, do you have any additional information on the Piccolo vs. Shopper?

Comments

  1. Michael

    Cute car. Never seen one before. That thing would fold like aluminum foil if a modern day car ever crashed into it.

    Like 10
    • Dickie F

      I agree with the safety concerns expressed.
      I think much worse could happen to the human, as a passenger on a motorcycle .

      Yet we continue to build and sell them with no built in safety at all.

      Like 2
  2. Ken Carney

    Looks like an overgrown golf cart on steroids! Would make a great EV
    though. Hmmm, wonder if you could duplicate the building process to
    accomplish that end. Would use it to putt around town after that. Great
    find!

    Like 3
    • Meetoo

      Looks like you would lose most of the storage area for batteries.

      Like 3
  3. Beatnik Bedouin

    Nice to know that there are a few more folk besides Scotty and me that like this sort of stuff.

    To be honest, if given the choice, I’d rather have Steinwinter’s Goggo-powered Fiat 126 from the same era. I’ve seen running examples going for half the price of the AWS.

    Like 5
  4. Beatnik Bedouin

    For those who’d prefer something Gallic – and more practical – there’s this.

    Back in the 1970s, the French had a special class for microcars – basically four wheel mopeds – that didn’t require registration and road tax. The Acoma was one of many manufacturers that took advantage of the rule.

    Like 7
    • jw454

      Beatnik,
      Very cool looking little car however if it were to be sold in English speaking countries they may want to rethink the name.

      Like 5
  5. jw454

    Cool little car for around town. I wonder if there are any countries that would allow something like this being built new today?

    Like 3
    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Japan has had cars like that for decades (pic is one from the 1980s) and are still available new, albeit electric and single seater. They’re classed differently from the Kei cars and vans and are limited to 50 kph/31 mph.

      Like 5
      • Meetoo

        That looks like it could get up to 31 mph. It all depends on how high the building is you drop it from the roof of.

        Like 11
      • rod

        @Mettoo … up to 35 mph when it falls upside down.

        Like 2
      • D. King

        As a 3-wheeler, wouldn’t it be possible to import this to the US as a motorcycle, even if new?

        Like 0
      • Riton

        Look at all the Jaguar MKII behind!

        Like 0
    • Meetoo

      Not the U.S., that’s for sure.

      Like 3
      • Rube Goldberg Member

        Bingo! Never ceases to amaze me, we were driving Monte Carlos and Thunderbirds you could land a plane on the hood, and these poor folks were driving this.Granted, these folks were only going 2 miles, and we were crossing deserts, but still, USA,USA!!!

        Like 5
  6. Meetoo

    Cute car. Unique. Buyer would certainly have the only one around. But stay off the freeway and stick to around town surface streets, unless you have a death wish.

    Like 3
  7. Meetoo

    Cute car. Unique. Buyer would certainly have the only one around. But stay off the freeway and stick to around town surface streets, unless you have a death wish.

    Like 1
  8. Fred W.

    Certainly would be practical if tooling around on streets where there is nothing that is much bigger, like Japan. If it ever encountered a typical SUV though…

    Like 4
  9. Adam T45 Staff

    I like it, but I think that it’s because it’s so different. I think that this may be the only car in history where the designer only had access to a pencil and a ruler when designing it.

    I do also cringe at the crash worthiness if things go horribly wrong. I tend to think that any collision involving this and anything larger than a medium-sized dog could go either way.

    Like 8
  10. CanuckCarGuy

    Cool little car: what amounts to a four-wheeled moped, would be ideal for a new driver. In theory, they could make the same mistakes at much lower speeds.

    Like 4
  11. Mark

    Heard a guy got charged with insurance fraud after he claimed hailstone damage to one of these…..turns out the neighborhood kids had thrown marshmallows at it.

    Like 5
  12. Blyndgesser

    It makes the Amphicar behind it look like an Expedition.

    Like 3
    • Pvtpilot91

      Speaking of, if I could afford it, I’d love to have that Amphicar!

      Like 0
  13. Whippeteer

    They’ve dropped the price considerably since January when it was listed at 12K euros. Don’t forget to add in shipping from Netherland.

    Like 1
  14. rod

    Looks like someone’s middle school shop teacher said, “Here’s two sheets of plywood and a ruler. Build a car.”

    Like 2
  15. carbuzzard Member

    Looks like it could be made out of cardboard for a grade school project or play.

    Like 0
  16. Kevin Lee

    I think the design was from an 11 year old trying to draw a VW Golf, or maybe a Chevette.

    Like 0
  17. Lance

    We had a Westinghouse refrigerator that came in a box like that.

    Like 3
  18. Maestro1

    One of the wonderful things about Barn Finds is the stuff you guys come up with.
    Well done. Keep up the good work.

    Like 2
  19. Wayne

    Perfect for areas (Like The Villages) where the main mode of transport is golf carts.
    Let’s see, lower it, front and rear sway bars, wider wheels, lower profile tires, front and rear spoilers. Oops, now too heavy to move. I don’t see this as any fun at all!

    Like 0
    • Peter

      My response too Wayne. Looks like it has been adapted from a golf k/cart.

      Like 0
  20. John

    Potomac Classics has some cool cars!

    Like 0

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