The history of the impressive Goggomobils at Cooly Rocks On!

Amongst the many impressive vehicles you’ll see at Cooly Rocks On in its famous Show ‘N’ Shine, there’s often a collection of small but eye-catching cars that always takes everyone’s fancy – the Goggomobils.

Petite in its design, the Goggomobil was first introduced and manufactured by Hans Glas GMBH in Germany. After noticing the high import duties and freight costs of bringing these Goggomobils to Australia, Bill Buckle of Buckle Motors persuaded Hans Glas to have the bodywork of the car produced in Australia using fibreglass.

Bill Buckle OAM "The Goggfather" with a fibreglass DART body at the Buckle Motors Manufacturing facility in Sydney, 1959.

The first Australian built fibreglass Goggomobil Sedan was then released into market in the latter half of 1958. The Goggomobil Coupe, DART and Carryall models then followed and gathered immense success.

Despite its small stature, these “microcars” are a crowd favourite at Cooly Rocks On every year. One of the Goggomobil owners who will be proudly displaying his beloved cars is Howard Knox. An ex-pilot, Howard always had a desire to rebuild vintage cars. His wish was finally fulfilled in 1993 for his 50th birthday, when his children bought him a Goggomobil DART that was up for sale.

The condition of Howard's red DART body when purchased in 1993.

“It was a wreck, an absolute wreck. So I thought I’d rebuild it, but I couldn’t get the parts. The only way you get parts is by buying other cars and I ended up with all these cars.”

Unbeknownst to Howard at the time, one of the cars he bought is actually a one-of-a-kind, original Goggomobil Coupe Cabriolet that was used to make the master body mould for all Australian built Coupe Cabriolets.

Howard made this discovery after reaching out to Bill Buckle about his unusual vehicle. Once the paint was removed and the fibreglass alterations was discovered, it was clear that Howard’s car is the only Australian built Goggomobil Coupe Cabriolet that did not have the fibreglass bumper bars. This made the vehicle a truly unique Goggomobil car, and in Bill Buckle’s words “a part of Australia’s automotive history”.

Howard and his wife Veronica with their yellow, red and blue Goggomobils.

The Goggos have now been part of Howard’s life and family for almost 30 years. His yellow, red, blue and the yet to be painted green Goggos now each belong to one of his four grandsons, who were all busy driving them around the backyard as soon as they were tall enough to reach the floor pedals.

Despite clocking up less than 1000 kilometres in mileage each over the three decades Howard has owned them, the Goggos have travelled far and wide across Australia. From museum displays to being the centre piece for the iconic Goggomobil Yellow Pages ad, Howard still struggles to put into words the charm that Goggomobils have.

“It stops people because it’s small. I do not know why, but people have a fascination with small, little cars.”

But because of this unexplainable interest, Howard’s Goggos have garnered visits from enthusiasts all over the world.

“We had people come from all over the place. People from New Zealand and Germany, and the reason they came over was because they wanted to take their kids for rides in the Goggo, and we used to do that at Cooly Rocks On.”

Howard with his red DART after completing restorations in 1995.

Howard’s Goggos have now made an appearance at every Cooly Rocks On since 2005 and 2023 is no different!

“Cooly Rocks On is a fantastic gathering of enthusiasts. The theme, the eras of the 60s and the rock ‘n’ roll, it’s a good vibe and it’s absolutely great to be there.”

 If you’d like to take a closer look at these small but wondrous Goggomobils, make sure to seek them out from 7-11 June on the streets of Coolangatta. In the meantime, stay up to date with Fire Up Fridays on our Facebook and Instagram and start your count down for the festival! 

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