Lloyd Alexander TS 600 Coupé by Frua

There are a number of terrible names for automakers, but Lloyd, born from the shipping company North German Lloyd located in Bremen. Car operations, run under Norddeutsche Automobil und Motoren AG (NAMAG) merged with Hansa, then post-Second World War with Borgward, establishing the little-known Lloyd machinery factory as, essentially, Borgward's sub-brand for small cars.

(Side note: if you're looking to read up on a company that tried pretty much everything, from streamliners to luxury busses to three-wheeled trucks, the Borgward group is a fantastic place to start.)

Lloyd's first post-war model, the LP 300, had a…reputation. I can never really understand German humour (who does?!), but this one is pretty straightforward. Its nickname was the Leukoplast bomber, Leukoplast being adhesive bandage. Bandage bomber—I suppose it wasn't the sturdiest vehicle on the road.

Fast forward to 1955 and the company was confident its newest car, the TS 600, would start to capture buyers. Taking over from the TS 400, the larger 600cc engine and more grown-up styling started to win fans, but by the time it had been refreshed and renamed into the much better-known Alexander, the company still had image problems.

A 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 60 seconds…6-0(!) probably didn't help, but a plan was hatched to grace the model with some Italian design flair. Thing is, the Italian styling house Ghia had founded a sub-brand of their own, Ghia-Aigle, in Switzerland. Operating as an independent entity from 1953, a number of great designers like Mario Boano, Giovanni Michelotti, and Pietro Frua got to work on cars that occupy a number of spaces in my personal fantasy garage, like the Jowett Jupiter, Panhard Dyna Z, and Alfa Romeo 1900.

The brief on the Alexander was simple: make people forget about our image problems and lack of performance by creating a stunning body—at least long enough until LLoyd's 900cc car, the Arabella, was ready.

Body parts were to be delivered from both Ghia, in Turin, and Ghia-Aigle, in Aigle—with the body numbers stamped on all pieces to ensure they could be fitted together during final assembly in Bremen, Germany—as no two bodies were the same. Forty eight cars were completed between 1958 and 1959, with the Ghia-Aigle prototype first shown at the 1948 Turin Motor Show, and the production version shown at the Lloyd stand at the Geneva Motor Show the following year.

Frua's rocket-inspired bodywork looks fast standing still, a great feature to have when the car featured the uprated TS engine—25 horsepower, 600cc engine, with a top speed of just 100 km/h (62 mph). A rocket it was not.

Inside, two-tone leatherette seats in beige and red were complemented by aluminum door sill plates, fancy interior trim panels with lots of chrome, wood steering wheel, and red carpet to match the bodywork: all were painted fire engine red.

Reviewers of the period complained that its lack of speed was even worse than in the normal car, because at least if you were blown into the weeds while driving a family sedan, nobody would bat an eye. A concept-like coupe struggling to make it up a hill was embarrassing.

But it looks great.

Adjusting for inflation (and, hopefully, for the defunct German Mark), the car would have cost about $31,000 US today; with the least expensive Alexander at just $18,000, the company's most often lower-income buyers often couldn't justify such a pricey car. Many apparently ended up in the hands of high-ranking Borgward executives…who gave them to their wives or daughters.

For those of you wondering how to get into classic cars inexpensively, for far less than $20,000 you can have your very own Italian-designed German car, though don't expect to be going very quickly! (And be patient as you wait for one of the 48 to come up for sale!)

A final note on the car: it's called about 1,000 different things, from the Lloyd Alexander Ghia-Aigle to the TS 600 Coupé, to the Lloyd Alexander-Frua. I titled the article based on current convention, that is, the designer's name after the base model, which in this case is the TS 600 Coupé. If you'd like to read (much) more on the car, including photos of survivors, pietro-frua.de is highly recommended.

 

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