Borgward Arabella Restoration

The History Of Borgward

The founder and owner of the Borgward group in Bremen, West Germany was Dr. (Eng.) Carl F.W. Borgward. He was born in 1890 in Hamburg-Altona, and first trained as a fitter and turner (Schlosser), then studied mechanical engineering (Maschinenbau). Wounded in World War 1, he returned and bought a share in a small manufacturing business, which he later took over completely. He turned the little firm into an automotive component manufacturer, producing radiators and fenders.

He commenced making three-wheeler 200cc 2-stroke delivery vehicles (named Blitzkarren) in 1924. This vehicle was quite successful, and led to the improved Goliath light commercials. The growing business forced Borgward to move several times to larger premises, and in 1929 he made his great coup, buying shares of the ailing Hansa-Lloyd company for a fraction of their value, effectively taking control of the company. The old-established Hansa-Lloyd firm had resulted from the merger in 1914 of Hansa (established 1905) and Lloyd (established 1906). Borgward later bought the firm completely and merged it with Goliath in 1930.

In 1931 the first Goliath passenger vehicle, the three-wheeled Pionier, was produced, and some 4000 were sold. By 1934 Borgward had developed the Hansa 1100 and 1700, which were attractive, well-enginered cars that re-established that marque. Production of Goliath and Hansa-Lloyd trucks continued successfully.

During the second World War, Borgward was forced to build military vehicles. (A man near Perth, W.A., has a W.W.2 Borgward staff car which seats 11 and can be used with 2, 4 or 6 wheel drive.)

With most of his factories destroyed in Allied bombing raids, Borward had to begin again after the War. His first post-war car was also the first all-new German car, the Borgward Hansa 1500, released at the end of 1949. The modern styling of this car was a development of the streamlined Borgward Windspiel of 1937, though it is often said that it was also inspired by new American designs Borgward had seen in magazines while interned by the Americans after the war. As with all Borgward Group products, the styling was wholly the work of Dr. Borgward himself. He had re-established his firm and designed this lovely car at the age of 58 – an age at which many today consider people to be no longer productive! The car was built on a central tube chassis and had swing-axle independent rear suspension.

In mid 1950 two new cars appeared from the Borgward Group, both with two-stroke motors and front-wheel-drive. They were the tiny Lloyd with a 293 c.c. motor and leatherette-covered plywood body, and the larger Goliath, with a 688 c.c. engine.

In 1952 the Borgward Hansa 1800 came on the market, followed in 1953 by a diesel engined Hansa.

In June 1954 a totally new Hansa 1500 with unitary construction was released, and was soon renamed the Isabella. A special model of the Isabella was the Coupé, often celebrated as Borgward´s most elegant design. A total of 202.862 Isabellas was produced.

In January 1957 the Goliath 700 and 900 models were replaced by the all-new 1100 c.c. flat four, 4 stroke engined cars with a sinilar body to their predecessors. The name was changed to Hansa in 1958, to get away from the two-stroke image.

Lloyds also developed further, into steel bodied cars with 600 c.c. four-stroke motors. 1959 saw a new Lloyd, the Arabella, with a 900 c.c. flat four simlar to that in the Hansa 1100. These cars were greatly admired for their very attractive styling.

The big six cylinder Hansa 2400 was replaced in 1960 by an all new design, the P100 or "Grosser Borgward" (in correct German “Der große Borgward“) of 2238 c.c. This car had a new design of air suspension, well before a similar system was introduced by Mercedes Benz. Unfortunately only 2547 examples of this brilliant automobile were built before the end of the Borgward Group.

The end of the Borgward Group is a shameful story. The Government of the state of Bremen (where Borgwards were built) claimed that Borgward was insolvent, and then effectively compulsorily acquired the company. They then side-stepped all schemes which might have saved the firm, putting the cars out of production and selling up the assets. All creditors were paid in full, proving that the company had never been insolvent after all – but governments that act improperly are always above the law. Borgward died a broken man in 1963. There is some evidence that other car makers were involved in the plot to destroy Borgward, but the full truth has not yet been revealed.

A group of Mexican businessmen bought the machinery and rights to the Borgward cars and had full intentions of restarting the production in Mexico. Various problems with finance and bureaucracy delayed the new start until 1967 – too late to be successful. Only 2267 P100s (called Borgward 230s in Mexico) were built in Mexico before the plant closed in 1970.

Today the former Borgward plant at Sebaldsbrück, Bremen is owned by Mercedes Benz.




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