Hans Glas GmbH from Dingolfing had grown up in the fifties with the famous Motorroller, the Goggomobil and one of the smallest vans in history: the TL. The European mainland rose from the ashes caused by the Second World War. The citizens were again financially fat on their bones and the car manufacturers responded to this. Mass motorization was in full swing. For Hans Glas that was a reason to join the world of larger cars. The ambitions in Niederbayern were not out of the air, which resulted in the arrival of the Glas 1700, among other things.
Luxury sporty middle class sedans were more than a fashion phenomenon during the sixties. They embodied the demographic and economic developments of the time. BMW came more and more above Jan, and showed the Neue Klasse. Alfa Romeo brought in 1962 a jewel of a successor to the Giulietta. The Giulia would form the basis for perhaps the most beautiful post-war Alfa Romeo era. Sedans, Bertones and Berlinas from the Tipo 105/115 series appealed to many enthusiasts. The Italians were high on the list. The extravagant Lancia came up with the Flavia and the Fulvia. And where the Bremer Borgward lowered the sails in a debatable way, Hans Glas GmbH saw an opportunity to take the model technical upward line.
Glas-Aufbruch with 1300 GT and new middle class car in Frankfurt
In 1963, during the IAA in Frankfurt, the press and public saw a beautiful coupé (the 1300 GT) and a very beautiful sedan designed by Pietro Frua. The luxury middle class asset from Dingolfing was the Glas 1500, which as such never went into production. A year after its launch in Frankfurt, the new sedan made its debut as 1700, so with a larger engine than originally planned. In a straight line, he mainly competed against the neighbors from Munich, the BMW 1600 and 1800. In addition, Glas also developed a TS version based on the 1700. Both elastic 1700 engines had the overhead camshaft, which was driven by a toothed belt. In addition, the power sources fell exactly between the range of the neighbors.
Strong and modern engines
The regular 1700 initially did it with eighty DIN horsepower. The technicians in Dingolfing later adjusted that number to 85 DIN hp by making some adjustments. The magical 100 hp limit was for the 1700 TS, which had the same engine as the base version. The difference was that the TS had two horizontal Solex 40 RH carburetors, the basic version had one Solex 34 PDSIT downdraft carburetor with automatic choke. Remarkable: the fast 1700 TS still had a manual choke. The TS was a very fast car for its time. A top of 170 kilometers per hour were possible. The basic versions were also fast for their time, with a top speed of 155 kilometers per hour.
Glass pioneers four-speed automatic transmission
Hans Glas Gmbh took a progressive approach. The standard version of the Glas 1700 was the first car that could be supplied with a four-speed automatic transmission. The machine was named Dickomat by Glas (after one of the creators, Heinrich Dick). It was also developed in the own Dingolfinger house. The transmission was electro-hydraulic. The driver engaged the automatic transmission with a lever on the steering wheel. The floor lever shifted through the gears in an H pattern, without a human hand being involved. The gear changes were regulated by an ingenious electronic BOSCH system that continuously collected data during every ride. Incidentally, the driver could also operate the gearbox manually in the event of a failure of the electronics, for example. Not only the vending machine from Glas was progressive. The four-speed manual transmissions with their Porsche synchronization system were also top-notch.
Self-supporting body, power-assisted brakes
For its time, the Glas 1700 was certainly a modern car from a cosmetic point of view. Naturally, it had a self-supporting steel body, the bottom of which was later reinforced. The front wheels were hung independently. The rear suspension was conventional with a rigid axle and leaf springs. A Panhard rod was also installed. It was also noticeable that Glas installed a 6V electrical system. The front wheels were slowed down by disc brakes, and glass drum brakes were mounted at the rear. The braking system was not separated, but it was energized.
The press reviews were positive. Matters such as finish and use of materials were praised. For example, the furniture was covered with a combination of Helio Antico artificial leather and woven fabric. Furthermore, things like body stiffness stood out. Glas realized this by using sturdy sheet steel. The handling was also praised. The Glas 1700 could hardly be shaken and the spring and damping comfort was praised, as well as the individualistic character. The downside of fame was heavy consumption. The Glas 1700 and the 1700 TS were decent drinkers with an average consumption of respectively 11 and 13 liters of petrol per 100 kilometers driven.
Very stiff competition from the established order
The Glas 1700 and the 1700 TS were not sold easily. Compared to the volume competition, the prices were tough. However, the Glas sedans were more competitively priced than BMW's competitors, Alfa Romeo and Lancia. But these manufacturers benefited from a stronger class image. Moreover, glass was still seen as a manufacturer of small(er) motor vehicles. Furthermore, the (mainly) European volume producers (e.g. Opel, Ford, Peugeot, Renault, BMC, Fiat) also offered a great deal of choice within the 1500-1800 sedan class. As stated: these competitors were often more competitive in terms of price and they could also boast a greater reputation within this class.
Built 13.789 times as Glass
From the second half of the sixties, Japanese manufacturers also knocked on European doors with competitors, for example the competitively priced Toyota Corona RT4# and the Mazda Luce. Despite the fact that the Glas 1700 series was highly praised, the car was ordered sparsely. From 1964 to the end of 1967, Glas produced a total of 13.789 vehicles of the 1700 sedan. 928 units rolled off the production line as 1700 TS. The Glas 1700 was ordered 284 times with the automatic transmission mentioned Dickomat.
By as BMW SA models
After Glas was taken over by BMW in November 1966 (willingly) the last Glas 1700 models were revised. In addition, the combi variant designed by Frua was not made ready for production. In normal Dutch: he was removed from the future plans. BMW took over all stocks of Glas after the takeover. This ensured that the 1700 and 1700 TS units that had not yet been sold were also subjected to strict quality controls by BMW. Partly due to this development, 1700 Glass units were sold with BMW wheel covers and a BMW approval stamp. For 1968, BMW moved the production line of the Glas 1700 to South Africa. There the car with BMW M10 engines was sold in South Africa as BMW 1800SA and 2000 SA. That lasted until mid-1973.
The very last adjustments
After this, Frua's original design was adapted one more time. The design now got the BMW grille from those years (with double headlights) and a new dashboard. The car was sold in South Africa as BMW 1804 SA and BMW 2004 SA for another year after the modifications. Frua's design thus continued for more than ten years, although Hans Glas GmbH probably also had a different path in mind for his beautiful middle class car. Just as he had in all his ambitions for his company, because Glas certainly built beautiful cars during the sixties. Such as the 1700, which became one of the Lower Bavarian paragons of German engineering and Italian design art. A beautiful car.