In the center of the Bavarian city of Augsburg, the coach builder Markus Göppel founded the body shop in 1923. In addition to carts and vehicle bodies, the company also produced its own skis and sold them on site together with other sports equipment. As early as 1925 bus bodies were also manufactured, in addition to bodies for commercial vehicles. The company grew steadily and from 1935 Göppel also manufactured innovative all-steel bodies for chassis for the MAN company from Munich. But coaches were also part of the core business back then.
Thanks to numerous orders, Göppel was able to build a new factory in Augsburg in 1938. They served a broad field and manufactured bodies for city buses, bus trailers, industrial vehicles, but also passenger cars – the customer’s request had top priority, which is why bodies from third-party manufacturers were also converted. The Second World War then slowed down the success significantly. It even got to the point that the plant was destroyed in an air raid in 1944, but could be rebuilt relatively quickly. This made it possible to catch on previous successes shortly after the end of the war. There was no shortage of orders – after all, there were enough vehicles that had to be repaired or rebuilt.
In the Fifties vehicles for the federal post office and fire service were built. With the introduction of the Volkswagen Type 2 (T1) Transporter in 1950, Göppel discovered a versatile vehicle. This is how decorated advertising vehicles such as display buses with large shop windows were created. Of course, luxury window buses for passenger transport were also made from Type 21 (closed panels) buses. At the end of the 1950s, Göppel ended classic body construction and focused entirely on bus construction – primarily on MAN chassis.
With the beginning of the sixties, the focus was set on the production of articulated buses for public city transport, mainly because bus trailers for passenger transport were banned. The MAN 890 UG articulated bus built by Göppel, which still exists today, dates from this time. On the photos in the linked Wikipedia article, the Göppel lettering on the rear can be clearly seen. But coaches were also still strongly represented in everyday business. After the death of the company founder Markus Göppel in 1960, his wife Anna and son Anton took over the management of the company.
The production of trailer bodies for MAN played an increasingly important role in the early 1970s, so that Göppel stopped producing touring buses. Special structures such as book buses or prisoner transporters were nevertheless carried out. In 1978 business was fine. There were 140 employees in the company – who handled extensive large orders for MAN and exports even as far as New Zealand. When, in 1979, many buses were already being manufactured directly by MAN, thus eliminating the important production of back-up vehicles for articulated buses, the production of touring buses was taken up again in the portfolio.
From 1980, midibuses were a focus at Göppel, then low-floor buses in the nineties. In 2006, the Augsburg bus construction company took over the Neoplan plant in Ehrenhain – before the Göppel company unfortunately went bankrupt in 2014 and was dissolved due to a lack of investors.
Special thanks to Mr. Weber who published an extensive article in „Last&Kraft“ magazine (issue 05/2009) that includes much more info about this coachbuilder. Without him i wouldn’t have known much about Göppel history – and in general he helped my a lot with my research.