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Return of a Legend - Borgward the First Modern Postwar German Car

Updated on June 4, 2011

Prototype of new Borgward

It's True, Borgward is coming back

Remember the Borgward?

Oh! Not that old to remember the legendary German car?

Don’t worry.

Christian Borgward (Grandson of Karl Borgward) and his partner Karlheinz L. Knoss are working hard from 2008 to bring back the legendary Borgward to the market. They founded Borgward AG in 2008 and making progress in developing the concepts and attracting the investors to make the comeback a reality. They vow to comeback with a paradigm shift in the auto industry. A prototype for the new car to be introduced is being tested.

Borgward Logo

Loved by the owners

Borgward was a car that the owners loved and still there are many owners who still keep those cars in mint condition. This is evident from the number of Borgward car clubs in many countries allover the world. In fact Borgward Isabella was the first post war modern German car that came to the market and won the hearts of those who bought them. In 1961 Borgward was the fourth largest car maker in Germany and was considered a real threat to the established number one automaker Mercedes Benz. The story of the forced bankruptcy of Borgward was still a puzzle. I liked to collect some information on history of Borgward and the comeback of new Borgward.

Borgward Isabella

Isabella was competeing with Benz 180

Another Competitor Opel Kapitan

Early History of Borgward

Although the name Borgward was first used in 1937, Carl Borgward designed and manufactured cars and vans under the names Hansa, Lloyd and Goliath. The first vehicle designed (1924) by Carl Borgward was a three-wheeled small van fitted with a 2 horsepower engine. Known as “Blitzkarren” it was a phenomenal success and was very popular among small businessmen. Upgraded version of the three-wheeler was introduced to the market as Goliath Pioneer. German Postal service also purchased many of these small three-wheelers. By the end of the decade (1920s) one fourth of the transport fleet in Germany were Goliaths.

Goliath Pioneer - the three wheeled van

Borgward before the War

There have been several changes in the business structure of the Borgward companies. The Cars produced during thepre-war years were Hansa 1700, Hansa  3500 and Hansa Borgward 2000. In 1939 the brand name was shortened to Borgward. A new factory was opened in 1939 near Bremen and the company employed more than 20,000 people. During the war the company mainly produced vehicles for the military use. Two manufacturing plants of the Borgward were destroyed by air-raids in 1944. Carl Borgward was imprisoned.

Hansa 1700 Sports

Post war Borgwards

Carl F.W. Borgward was freed in 1948 and he started production of cars in 1949. The postwar models were Lloyd LP300 with a wooden chassis and a plywood body, Borgward Hansa 1500. Biggest success of Borgward came with the introduction of Isabella in 1954. Isabella incorporated many novel features like coil springs for all four wheels, gas shock absorbers and hydraulic clutch. With roomy interior and panoramic view with large windows the car became very popular everywhere it was sold. The power and the easy handling were liked by many and those who bought the car became enthusiasts of Borgward. Variants like Isabella Coupe and Cabriolet also were developed in order to build the image of the brand. As a part of this exercise a sport racer with a 1500 cc 16-valve engine also was introduced to the market.

Isabella Coupe

Borgward Racer

End of Borgward

In 1961 creditors forced Borgward to liquidate the company. Carl Borgward insisted that the company can pay the debts. But Bremen Government ordered the liquidation. After liquidation the creditors were paid in full that shows with little help Borgward could have carried on the business. Shortly after the liquidation Carl F.W. Borgward died of an infarctus.

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    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      6 years ago from Srilanka

      Jandee, Thanks for the comment.

      I haven't heard of Wartburgs.

      Like to do some search for it. If I find something interesting will write another hub.

    • jandee profile image


      6 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Hello Sun,

      I must say you have given me a 'merry chase'down memory lane. As soon as I read the words 'Borgward'it took me back to many years ago! I well remember the Beaut. car then it disappeared ! Shortly after, a different car was on the scene-'Wartburg' same makers ??who knows ??

      P.S think they did vacs. as well,best from jandee

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Thank you very much for the visit and encouraging comment.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for another fine Hub. I must confess that I had never heard of a Borgward. Both the old ones and the new prototype are sharp. Well done!

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      AllsuretyBonds and Shampa Shadya,

      Thank you for the visits and the encouraging comments.

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Writer on line,

      Thank you very much for the visit and the very informative comment with the story. I too was a kid when one of my uncles bought a Borgward. He wanted to upgrade his Opel Rekord to a Kapitan. But a salesman persuaded him to buy the Isabella. We were treated to a trip in the new car. He was full of boasting and I can remember only a little of that talk. Anyway, He also was very enthusiastic about Borgward and he did not want to have another car. Family sold it after he was gone. Now that car is a regular participant in annual old crocs rally in Colombo.

    • shampa sadhya profile image

      Shampa Sadhya 

      7 years ago from NEW DELHI, INDIA

      I don't know much about the cars but I liked your hub as it is quite informative. The different models of Borgward look really great.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Sun Pen 50. Growing up in New Zealand in the sixties, I was a fan of the very few Borgwards that came to our shores. Most of the NZ fleet then was made up of cars of English origin, plus Australian, American to a declining extent, and a surprising range of European marques. I worked for a time for the NZ importer of Peugeot and Renault, which came in CKD (completely knocked down) form and were brought to life in an assembly plant in Thames, a tiny town south of Auckland, the main port and metropolitan area. The Japanese were just beginning to make an impact, with cars like the Daihatsu Compagno, and the Hino Contessa, based on English and French engineering.

      But the Borgward even then was a car of unique class and distinction. I have a particular memory of the marque, because my father owned a car painting business, and I spent every available hour there after school and on holidays, helping to prepare cars for repairs and repaints. On one occasion, the panelbeaters next door had a Borgward Isabella delivered to their yard, which had been badly damaged, but not so badly that it was beyond repair. Rather, because of its comparative rarity, and more importantly, distance from its country of origin, the price of importing parts to repair it outweighed the logic (to the insurance company) of writing it off. But, it was such a beautiful car that the owner was determined to keep it, if it could be repaired. Most of the damage was 'fixable', although I doubt that would be the case today, because it relied upon the old-fashioned use of hammer and dolly (make that hammers and dollies), in the hands of skilled tradesmen, to reshape the damaged panels. Of course in those days cars were still made mostly from steel, not plastic composite, so the panelbeaters at least had something to work with.

      The only item that looked like defeating them was the petrol tank, which had been crumpled into a non-functioning shadow of its former self as a result of the road crash which had damaged the rest of the car. However, it happened that at the time, a young guy (just a few years older than me) had approached the panelbeaters about a job, but as he had no formal Trade qualification, they were reluctant to take him on.

      Instead, they gave him two days in their workshop, access to all tools, heat, and welding equipment, and challenged him to restore the Borgward's petrol tank. Both my Dad's and the panelbeaters employees shared an outdoor area during teas and lunches, so it was common knowledge that the challenge had been issued, and accepted.

      Suffice to say that after two days, the Borgward was again taking on petrol, and the panelbeaters were taking on a new staff member.

      He never looked back, and neither did the owner of the Borgward, as he drove away from Dad's shop two weeks later, in his gleaming repaired and repainted Isabella, polished to a shiny and pristine finish, by yours truly...

    • AllSuretyBonds profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Hub. What an awesome looking car! I really like the look and style of it!

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Yes Ann, I found photos of two cars that Borgward Isabella was in direct competition.(Included in the Hub) Opel Kapitan priced below Borgward and Benz 180 more expensive than Isabella. Compare the looks.

    • annmackiemiller profile image


      7 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      those are classy cars - put my Smart Car to shame even if I do tell people it is a Mercedes.


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