Sunday 7 August 2011
The Borgward Isabella was a medium-sized, two-door saloon manufactured by the Bremen based auto-manufacturer Carl F. W. Borgward GmbH from 1954-1962. Initially, the car was badged — like its predecessor — as the Hansa 1500, but within the company it was known from the beginning by the code name, Isabella (not after Carl Borgward's wife whose name was Elisabeth), and cars produced after 1957 bore the ‘Isabella’ name, inscribed eye catchingly within the rhombus at the centre of the front grille: in retrospect, the car produced from 1954 is known as the Isabella to differentiate it from the (first) Hansa 1500/1800 which the company produced from 1949-1954.
Despite its aspirational positioning in the marketplace, the Isabella had a smaller engine (and was marginally shorter) than its immediate predecessor. 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.
A year after presenting the saloon, Borgward presented the Isabella estate version.
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 saloon and estate versions.
Vehicles were exported to several markets, including Australia and Malaya, where only 10 examples were sold.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1439 cc
- horsepower: 60 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 130 km/h