A Brief Borgward History
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
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
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.
There are Borgward Clubs in Germany (3 clubs),
Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, France, Great Britain, South
Africa and the USA (2 clubs), most of which are much larger than our Borgward
Register in Australia. All are
devoted to preserving the various cars built by the Borgward Group, and in doing
so they preserve the memory of Carl F.W. Borgward, one of the most creative and
individualistic of automobile builders. The
preservation of Borgward cars also serves as a protest against the enormous
injustice that was done to Dr. Borgward and his firms.
BORGWARD IN AUSTRALIA
A small number of Borgward Hansa 1500s was imported
into Australia in the early 1950s, and one was even entered in the 1955 Redex
Trial (by Messrs Tottey and Hedley, of Armadale, Victoria).
A much bigger impression was made by the Goliath,
imported by the Kenneth Wright organisation from 1954, and assembled in
Melbourne to reduce import tariffs. The
Goliath was chosen because the two-stroke DKW had been very successful in
Australia before the War, and it was recognised that the Goliath would appeal to
the same market segment. With
well-placed advertising and spectacular successes in Economy Runs (in cars
driven by Kenneth Wright himself, with co-driver Colin Oliver), these cars
quickly established themselves securely on the Australian market.
From 1958 Kenneth Wright also imported the Borward Isabella, and marketed this thoroughbred automobile very successfully. As the following road test excerpts show, the Isabella was regarded with admiration and even awe by the motoring press. The transformation of the Goliath into the Hansa 1100 (marketed as the Borgward Hansa 1100 in Australia) gave these cars an even greater acceptance among discerning buyers, who paid more than the price of a Holden for the small but high quality cars. Dealers were appointed in all states, and included Mr. Wright´s son, also called Kenneth, in Adelaide.
There were plans to assemble the Isabella in
Australia, but unfortunately this was one of many dreams that died when Borgward
was forced out of business in Germany.
Quite independently of Kenneth Wright, L.J.
Hartnett (father of the Holden car and the Harnett project) assembled and
marketed the Lloyd vehicles in Australia. According
to his book „Big Wheels and Little Wheels“ (page 229)
Harnett sold some 3000 Lloyds, which were called Lloyd-Hartnetts in
Australia. L.J. Hartnett claims
that Dr. Borgward himself suggested this name, a gesture which Hartnett greatly
appreciated. In reality,
unfortunately, the number sold was probably considerably less than Hartnett
It is clear that Borgward could have had a greater
role in Australia if the Borgward Group had stayed in business.
Hartnett imported several Lloyd Arabellas, and Kenneth Wright one
Borgward P100 („Grosser Borgward“), and these cars were very well received.
Indications are that they would have sold very wll here.
It is very interesting to read what contemporary
Australian road-testers had to say about Borgward vehicles.
the following excerpts capture some of the feeling of that era, but above
all show that the Borgward Group products really were recognised to be superior
(„Wheels Road Test Analysis of
With only five moving parts in its two-stroke
engine and without the complex valve gear universal in cars today, the
front-wheel-drive Goliath seems assured of a market among people who buy cars
for reliability and economy and are not prepared to put up with any sort of
The car is foolproof. Fuel injection replaces a carburettor; the suspension will deal with all sorts of road conditions.
Gears are selected with an all-synchromesh gearbox.
Steering, handling and safety are good.......
All told the Goliath is a small car that has many
workmanlike features that will assure a long, maintenance-free life.
It behaves a lot differently on the road from conventionally engined cars
and has an acceptable performance for most drivers.
(This was the 700cc version, that was really a little underpowered!)
Australian Motor Manual Febrary 15 1956 („1956 Goliath gets Uplift in Power and Styling“)
Borgward, Goliath and Lloyd are three divisions of one of Germany´s
biggest automobile concerns, the Borgward Group. Factories are situated at the big seaport of Bremen on the
North Sea Coast. While the actual
Borgward Company builds cars of 1500 and 2400 c.c., Lloyd concentrates on
minicars. The Goliath Division, the
new product of which this article is concerned with, builds particularly
spacious automobiles that fall into the small car category......
With an extra 11 b.h.p. the Goliath is now
adequately poweredto undertake any job or trip that may be put its way.
Speeds in gears have increased only slightly for although higher gear
ratios are used the wheels are smaller. The
excellent flexibility of the smaller-engined car is still maintained.
Handling and cornering power are imperceptibly improved by less unsprung
Cruising speed is now about the same as the earlier
model‘s top speed.
Moror Manual May 15, 1956 („Lloyd
600 is Economy Car “)
The West German Lloyd is an attractively styled
small car with an economical appetite and a lively performance.
Recently introduced to the Australian market, the Lloyd 600 is a most
attractive small car. It is available in three body styles, a four seater saloon, a
station wagon and a panel van, all powered by an amazingly economical 596c.c.
air-cooled twin cylinder engine.......
The interior of the Lloyd, like the exterior, has
the excellent finish which characterises Continental cars.....
Summing up, we feel that there will always be a steady if not great market for any car which can offer the operating economy, excellent finish and attractive appearance of the Lloyd. It is to be regretted, however, that excessive import duties and sales tax have raised the price of the car so that it is more a luxury means of transport than the „people‘s car" for which we have waited so long.
Today December 1956
(„Goliath goes hard – and likes
One of the most interesting small cars on the Australian market is the Goliath; its unconventional two-stroke design, with petrol injection, is fully justified by results.
It combines extreme economy, a high
standard of road behaviour, and more comfort and excellence of general finish
than is usual in cars of its size......
The whole of the distance from Melbourne to the top of nearby Mount Dandenong, by way of Croydon, involved no change down from fourth, except when stops were made, and there was always something in hand even with two solidly built people in the car.
Maximum speed was 78 mph.
In the course of my run I encountered enough rough road and potholes to prove the Goliath is a notably good-riding car. As to its handling qualities, they were well up to the standard for a good front-wheel-drive – and that´s saying plenty.
Motor June 1959 („A
A new, more powerful and better-equipped
Lloyd-Hartnett has just been released in Australia – it´s the TS family
saloon, TS standing for touring sport.
The TS does not supersede the standard job, which of course is the Australian-assembled version of the German Lloyd Alexander 600; it just has more sting in the tail (or rather the nose) and more equipment. .......
The normal Lloyd-Hartnett saloon is alredy remarkably equipped for its price, with heater-demister, camping body and blinking lights fitted as standard.
Add to this the new contoured seats, armrests, internal and external rear-view mirrors, coathooks, ashtrays front and rear, a control for flashing the headlights to cars being overtaken, and assymetrical headlights, and you have the Lloyd Hartnett TS.
The Lloyd is one of the few
front-wheel-drive cars in production – and combined with independent
suspension all round (transverse semi-elliptics with an auxiliary anti-roll bar
at front, trailing wishbones and coil springs at therear) its handling through
corners and over rugged surfaces is well above average. .......
With only 45 Pounds difference between the two cars, we´d tip that the distributors will soon find the TS model outselling the standard Lloyd-Hartnett saloon.
(„Borgward´s value for money
One of the really exciting family cars to come to
the local market, and one which I might add, is finding many friends, is that
highly efficient piece of Teutonic machinery, the Borgward Isabella TS........
We voted this the most desirable car under 2500
Pounds in which to do a long-distance interstate trip.....
The appeal of the Borgward is in its many
abilities, rather than aesthetic appeal. It
is a fairly expensive car (1775 Pounds) but is virtually unbeatable value for
the person who cares about the type of car he drives. Performance, handling and economy are unexcelled in the
class. Interior appointments and
comfort belong to a car of around twice the price.
In the best German tradition, the Isabella TS is a
chunky, solid car that really gets its teeth into the job.
In a word, great!
prices of other cars in April 1960, all in Australian Pounds:
Holden, 1169, Ford Zephyr, 1318, Vauxhall Cresta, 1468, Humber Super
Snipe, 1824, Chrysler Royal V8, 2059, Mercedes Benz 190, 2270, Chevrolet Bel
Air, 2313, Jaguar 2.4, 2382, Ford Fairlane 500, 2468, Pontiac, 2472, Studebaker
Lark, 2495. From 1966 Australa used
Dollars, 1 Pound = 2 Dollars.)
Moror Manual May 2, 1960 („A
car for the connoisseur – The potent, beautifully finished Borgward Isabella
During the recent test the car performed so well
that even now it is hard to believe that the performance figures are genuine.
And the test car was not specially tuned.
Actually it had covered over 20.000 miles as a demonstration vehicle and
the only preparation it received for our test was a polish........
Summing up, the Borgward is a car that has to be
seen and driven to be appreciated. Offering
a standard of performance, appearance and economy unmatched by any car
in its class it is also renowned for reliability and long life.
It is hard to see how anyone with 1775 Pounds to spend could buy anything
Motor Sports and Automobiles, August 1961
(„Borgward Isabella TS, A
gentlemen´s carriage for the sportsman“)
In the few years that Borgwards have been available
in Australia, the marque has secured for itself a reputation forsuperior finish
and reliability which must be the envy of its rivals.
The reputation is wll-founded and based on indisputable fact........
This is a car which must be driven to be believed,
but be careful – many a driver has attempted this and then spent a frustrating
time putting his affairs in order prior to purchasing one.
Don´t say we didn´t warn you.
Other interesting Borgward History Links:
Borgward History at a glance ....
Very detailed Borgward History
Home (Australian Borgward Club)