The Lloyd was the object of my father's first longing for a vehicle of his own.
"How wonderful it must be to drive to work in such a car," he thought to himself as he stood freezing at the bus stop. At the time, the early 1950s, he was a bank trainee making just 55 Deutsche marks a month, equivalent to $13.10 at the official exchange rate at the time.
A Lloyd was the minimal form of powered transport. The body consisted of plywood and artificial leather, which gave it the nickname "Band-Aid bomber."
Given that it wasn't exactly the safest way to get around, it became an object of often-macabre humor. "Anyone not afraid of death," one derisive saying went, "drives a Lloyd."
Under the hood, a two-stroke, two-cylinder engine generating either 10, 11 or 13 hp, depending on displacement, rattled away in a space the size of a shoebox. A 19-hp sedan was introduced in 1955.
When my father finally bought one, it had a sheet-steel skin and looked a little better, almost like a real car.
Indian automaker Tata now aims to conquer the world with a similar vehicle: two cylinders, tiny wheels, hardly any trunk space but with four doors.
And it is priced at 1 lakh, equivalent to just 1,700 euros or about $2,500, at least for the base model in India. More expensive, better-equipped models are being considered both for India and for export to more developed markets.
With help from Robert Bosch, the Tata Nano has achieved Euro 4 emission standards. But even if registration in Europe is rather improbable, the Nano seems just right for markets on the threshold of becoming motorized.
And that is a huge potential market. Automotive analyst Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer estimates that 90 percent of the world's sales growth will take place in emerging economies in coming years.
Within these markets, he says, one buyer in three will settle on a car priced under $7,000.
India's media already are calling Tata's economy box the "People's Car," perhaps forgetting where the name comes from and that it is taken. But everyone now advising Volkswagen to plunge back into the bottom-rung segment should look more closely at the history of entry-level brands like Lloyd, Glas or Fend.
None still exist. Even BMW, manufacturer of the legendary one-door Isetta, came within a hair's breadth of bankruptcy. That's because the cheap-car boom was already over by the end of the 1950s in Germany.
People didn't want to drive economy boxes any longer. They wanted at least four cylinders, four full-fledged seats, a secure body made from sturdy sheet metal, and -- not least -- a name that sounded good.
My father had already traded in his Lloyd by then.
It was for a real car, a Volkswagen.
Guido Reinking is editor of Automobilwoche