G-O-GG-O. Say those letters to most Australians, and it will instantly conjure up an image of a stocky bloke with dark, receding hair, dressed in greasy overalls, labouring over the engine bay of a tiny yellow automobile. You know that your television advertisement has done its job when it instantly becomes part of pop culture.
For (then) Telecom Australia’s Yellow Pages, the multi-award-winning 1991 ad (a Silver Lion at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, for starters) depicting a Scottish-accented home mechanic searching for a part for his broken-down Glas Goggomobil was an unqualified success.
In car yards and workshops all over the country, there is now a “Goggomobil” section, where they store all the really hard-to-find parts.
Even the actors (real-life husband and wife Tommy Dysart and Joan Brockenshire) found the ad changed their lives: they wound up buying the car that featured in the G-O-GG-O advertisement, and later released a single based on the car - which, it has to be said, did not exactly burn up the charts…
Tommy said: “What decided us [to do a song] was when we went into a shop and they all started with the G-O-GG-O, and the guy there said to us, ‘I reckon everyone in Australia knows the rhythm of that ad … you should write a song.’ Then he said - and this appealed to our egos - 'In fact, it’s not a song, it’s an anthem.’” In the song, the couple from the ad set off in the Goggomobil for a picnic and have a bit of trouble after they pass a group of cyclists along the way. [Larrikin CD LRS 371, 1995]
The car featured in the ad is a coupé design copied from the 1955 Goggomobil, but manufactured in fibreglass by Buckle Motors in Sydney, on a chassis and with two-stroke running gear imported from Germany (as were all Australian-built Goggos). Goggo models produced here included direct copies of the German sedan and coupé with variants such as soft top versions of both types. Most popular was the 1959 Dart, a sports model described by Hans-Ulrich von Mende in the book Kleinwagen as “the most beautiful Goggo of all times… Pininfarina could not have designed a better front. But having done such an excellent job with the fibre glass [sic], the company might also have designed smaller tailgates. The only indication that this is a Glas is the company logo with the »G« at the front and the chromium-plated ventilation grid at the back, which can also be found on the Goggo.”
The Dart cost £685 new, and featured a four-speed manual gearbox linked to a 400cc, two-stroke engine. It has a top speed of 80kmh. The tiny open-top vehicle - narrow enough to fit on a footpath [sidewalk] - has no doors, passengers having to step in pedal-car style. It has a basic interior, which includes two tiny vinyl bucket seats and only a speedometer on the dashboard. Tall people had to drive in a semi-reclined position so they can fit in the car properly. Of a total of 700, only around 30 Darts remain in Australia.
Also popular in Australia was a carryall van, quite different to the German equivalent.
A 40% increase in the tax on imported cars and chassis in 1960 rendered further production uneconomical, so the Australian Goggo operation was consigned to the used-car yard of history.