Thursday, February 26, 2015

1958-1961 Lloyd Alexander TS

"Take a good look at the new ALEXANDER TS. This is a car in which all desirable qualities are combined and which, in addition, can offer riding safety and economy in fuel consumption and maintenance hitherto completely unknown. The new ALEXANDER TS is the result of many years of experience in the design and mass-manufacture of 'light' cars. Is is not a scaled-down big car, but an independent design, aimed from the outset at achieving a maximum of performance, economy, passenger capacity and reliability. The ALEXANDER TS offers features deemed desirable in big luxury cars and, as you will soon find out, many more that will endear it to the heart of its owner."

What looks like an odd DIY-job, was once a hot seller in postwar Germany. The Lloyd Alexander was presented in 1957 as the successor of the similarly shaped Lloyd 600, which bowed in 1955 and immediately scored a respectable third place behind Volkswagen and Opel in the annual German production statistics.

The new Lloyd Alexander sported some significant improvements which made it more acceptable as a "real" car. Most notably, the trunk of the new Lloyd became accessible from the outside through a proper hatch, and a synchronized gearbox was installed. And you could now actually crank down the windows to get some fresh air in — presumably not an unimportant selling factor in the tropical climate of Cuba.

Despite its frugal look, the Lloyd Alexander was a well-equipped automobile at an inexpensive price. One of its technical singularities was the car's four-stroke engine: the pistons of its "parallel twin" two-cylinder motor moved synchronously up and down. In fact, this was merely a bigger motorcycle engine, as contemporary bikes featured similar technology. With a displacement of 36.37 cubic inch (596 ccm), the 19 hp motor accelerated the light Alexander in about a minute to 60 miles per hour (100 km/h). 

The little Lloyd received a facelift in 1958. Now called Alexander TS, it was instantly recognizable by its semi-elliptic front grille. Bigger improvements happened under the skin: front lights with asymmetric beam and window washers significantly improved safety, while a new rear axle and a stronger engine meant much better handling and an increased top speed of 68 mph (110 km/h). We certainly wouldn't like to go that fast in the little Lloyd, and the insurance companies perhaps thought the same. Soon, Lloyd limited the power to 23hp, and topped the speed at 66 mph (107 km/h) to get a better classification. That's still a remarkable performance for such a little car. The Germans rhymed accordingly: "Wer den Tod nicht scheut fährt Lloyd." ("He who is not afraid of the death drives a Lloyd.")

It might sound surprising, but the little Lloyd was quite popular across the Atlantic, too. Sales in the U.S. were reasonably good between 1955 and 1959, but took a header in 1960. Better compact cars were widely available now, which lead to the Lloyd's sudden fall. With it fell the Borgward Group, Lloyd's single proprietor, in 1961. Income from the U.S. exports was crucial for Borgward, and the crash of the import boom in 1960 contributed to the bankruptcy of Borgward. Who would have thought that such a small automobile could ever play such an important role ... 

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