Borgward Isabella is an automobile which was manufactured by the
Bremen based auto-manufacturer Carl F. W.
Borgward GmbH from 1954 to
The Isabella was to have been marketed as the
Borgward Hansa 1500 but
the Isabella name was used on test vehicles and proved popular with
engineering staff and media. The production car was subsequently
renamed and only the first few hundred examples were built without
Isabella badging. Hansa badging was also used through to 1957.
Despite its aspirational positioning in the marketplace, the Isabella
had a smaller engine (and was marginally shorter) than its immediate
Borgward Hansa. Late in 1952, the firm had launched
their six-cylinder Hansa 2400 model. The larger car never found many
buyers; but in 1954, it made commercial sense to keep the two models
from competing too directly with each other.
1 At launch
3 In competition
4 End of production
5 Concept (2017)
11,150 Isabellas were produced in 1954, an early indicator that
commercially this would be the most successful
Borgward ever. The
early cars enjoyed an enthusiastic reception in the market place.
Unfortunately, early models were afflicted by teething troubles,
reflecting a rushed development schedule, and the marketplace would
later prove unforgiving as Borgward's Stuttgart based rival,
Daimler-Benz demonstrated that new models did not have to involve
customers experiencing such problems.
The advertised launch price of DM 7,265 was higher than that of
competitor family sedans from Opel and Ford, but significantly less
than Mercedes Benz was asking for their 180 model. In view of the
car's spacious cabin and impressive performance, the pricing was
perceived as very competitive. A road test at launch reported a
maximum speed of 130 km/h (81 mph) and fuel consumption of
8.4 l/100 km. The testers described the modern structure of
the car in some detail: they particularly liked the wide cabin with
its large windows, and they commended the effectiveness of the
brakes. The inclusion of a cigarette lighter and a clock also
attracted favourable mention. Unlike the Mercedes 180 however,
(and unlike its predecessor) the Isabella was only delivered with
The Isabella was constructed without a separate chassis, applying the
monocoque technique which during the 1950s was becoming the norm. Like
its predecessor, the car was designed with a modern ponton, three-box
design, but the line of the Isabella was more curvaceous than that of
the first Hansa, and the car’s body made greater use of chrome trim.
Ground clearance was 6.9".
The Isabella featured a swing axle at the back: it was supported by
coil springs on all four wheels. The four-cylinder 1493 cc engine
had a claimed power output of 60 bhp (45 kW), and was
connected by means of a then innovative hydraulic clutch to the four
speed full synchromesh gear box. Gear changes were effected by means
of a column mounted lever.
A year after presenting the sedan,
Borgward presented the Isabella
Also introduced in 1955 was a two-door cabriolet, known as the
Isabella TS and featuring a more powerful 75 bhp (56 kW)
motor. Production of the cabriolet was contracted to the firm Karl
Deutsch in Cologne: converting an early monocoque design to a
cabriolet necessitated considerable modification in order to achieve
the necessary structural rigidity, and the resulting cost was
reflected in a much higher selling price for this version.
Initial sales volumes were not maintained. Responding to a sales
decline of almost a third in 1955 and 1956, Carl
Borgward decided to
produce a more beautiful Isabella with a shortened roof line. The
Borgward Isabella Coupé was developed, and the four hand built
prototypes were well received by the press.
Borgward gave one of these
prototypes to his wife, Elisabeth, who would continue to drive it into
the 1980s. Commercial production of the coupé, powered by the more
powerful TS version of the engine first seen in the cabriolet,
commenced in January 1957. The coupe appears to have achieved its
marketing objective of further distancing the Isabella’s image from
similarly sized competitors from Opel and Ford. By 1958, the more
powerful 75 bhp (56 kW) TS motor had also found its way into
the more upmarket Isabella sedan and estate versions.
Vehicles were exported to several markets, including Australia, New
Zealand and Malaya, where only 10 examples were sold.
Borgward Hansa Isabella Saloon
Borgward Isabella Cabriolet
Borgward Isabella Combi 1959
Borgward Isabella Coupé (2+2)
Borgward Isabella TS Saloon 1961
Borgward Isabella PickUp
One of probably two 4 door
English Racing driver and tuner Bill Blydenstein raced a Borgward
Isabella in the 1950s with some success.
End of production
At the time of Borgward’s controversial bankruptcy in 1961, the firm
carried a substantial stock of unsold Isabellas. Nevertheless, the
model's production at the
Bremen plant continued until 1962,
suggesting that overstocking had not been restricted to finished
vehicles. By the end, 202,862 Isabellas had rolled off the Borgward
production line which was nevertheless an impressive volume in the
1950s: overall, and despite being hit by falling demand in the
economic slump that briefly hit Germany in the early 1960s, the car is
believed to have been the firm's most lucrative model by a very
Borgward enjoyed a brief afterlife: the production line was sold and
shipped to Mexico where later during the 1960s the P100 (Big Six) was
produced. The Isabella was never produced in Mexico. Back in the
German market, BMW’s stylish new 1500, launched by the Bavarians in
1961, convincingly filled the niche vacated by the Isabella, and was
credited by at least one commentator with having rescued
from insolvency. In Argentina, the Isabella was manufactured from 1960
to 1963 by Dinborg, a local subsidiary of Borgward. 999 Isabellas were
made in Buenos Aires.
Borgward Isabella Concept was presented by
Borgward at IAA 2017 as a
four-door, four seat electric coupe. It has been designed under
the direction of Anders Warming.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Borgward Isabella Concept.
Peter Kurze: „Autos aus Bremen“, Band 3, Verlag Peter Kurze,
Bremen 2001, ISBN 3-9806977-3-8
Völker, Heinrich: Der Weg zur
Borgward Isabella - Unbekanntes aus der
Versuchsabteilung - Bremen: Verlag Peter Kurze 2003 –
Georg Schmidt: „Borgward“, Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1986,
„Motor-Klassik“, Heft 1/2004, Vereinigte Motor-Verlage, Stuttgart
^ Advertisement for
Borgward Hansa Isabella, Metcalfe and Mundy Ltd,
The Autocar, 21 October 1955, page 205
^ a b "Erinnern Sie sich? Verblaßtes Nordlicht:
Auto, Motor und Sport. Heft. 20 1977: Seite 126–129. 28 September
^ a b c d e Michael Sedgwick & Mark Gillies, A to Z of Cars 1945
to 1970, Haymarket Publishing Ltd, 1993, Page 38
Borgward Isabella PickUp, www.kucarfa.nl Retrieved 26 December 2016
^ de la Rive Box, Rob (1998). Encyclopedia of Classic cars Sports Cars
1945-1975. Rebo Productions. ISBN 1-84053-111-8.
^ a b "1957
Borgward Isabella Serie I
Coupe performance data, specs
& photo". Automobile-catalog.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
^ Gloor, Roger (2007). Alle Autos der 50er Jahre 1945 - 1960 (1. ed.).
Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-613-02808-1.
^ a b Marius Venz, ISABELLA, THE BEST-REMEMBERED BORGWARD 2010,
Borgward Car Club of Australia Inc, www.borgwardisabella.com Retrieved
on 7 October 2014
^ Brief History of the Marques and Isabella Production Line,
www.borgward.org.uk Retrieved on 7 October 2014
^ a b c d "Vor 20 Jahren: Erster Fahrbericht: der neue
(ie a page of extracts from the same magazine's edition of exactly
twenty years earlier". Auto Motor u. Sport. Heft. 13 1974: Seite 14.
22 June 1974.
Borgward Unveils Future-Focused Isabella EV Concept
Wikimedia Commons has media related to