THE BORGWARD GROUP’S POST-WAR MODELS
 
BORGWARD: Immediately after the War, the Borgward factory began production of a range of trucks. At that time the British occupation forces still intended that Germany de-industrialise and revert to being an agricultural land, so the factory had only limited permission to assemble some left-over parts into trucks. Borgward owned numerous scattered factories, which enabled a continued production of “left-over parts”, despite the surveillance by the suspicious military authority.
Based on the pre-war models but continually upgraded, these trucks would continue in production until they were replaced by the modern forward-control range that came in 1958. The lighter models of these new trucks included such advanced features as independent front suspension and unitary construction! Borgward trucks were generally not imported to Australia. A Borgward Club member in Perth once had a job driving one that had been imported to Perth by a Dutch immigrant, and perhaps some others made it here in a similar way. A small number of B611 forward-control buses was imported to Australia shortly before the closure of the firm. Borgward trucks enjoyed an excellent reputation, and also brought significant profits for the company. Critics of Carl Borgward sometimes claim that the sale of trucks financed his “hobby” of building cars!
When Carl Borgward was released from American imprisonment and the ban on building new vehicles lifted, Borgward stunned the motoring world with the new Borgward Hansa 1500 (produced from late 1949). This was allegedly Germany’s first car with fenderless, “straight-through” styling, called “Ponton-Stil” (pontoon style) in German. Conventional wisdom would have us believe that this car was a copy of postwar American designs, but, as the article on the Hansa Windspiel shows, it is also a further development of that stillborn aerodynamic pioneer, which had had this same advanced styling features in 1937! 
The Hansa 1500 was imported to Australia in very limited numbers. Expensive even in Germany, and with thirties engineering, it was losing sales by 1953, leading to a rush-programme to develop its replacement, the Isabella of 1954. With unitised body and mechanicals mounted on sub-frames, the Isabella could be built and sold much more cheaply, and its brilliant engineering made it the outstanding car of its era. Expensive but still regarded as good value, these cars were very much admired in Australia when they were new. Especially attractive was the brilliantly styled Coupé. Those of us who drive Isabellas regularly can confirm that, even by today’s standards, they are cars of outstanding comfort and very good performance and economy. A man who rode in mine gave me the following favourite quote: “By any standards this is a very good car, but for a 1959 model it’s absolutely incredible!”
By the early sixties the styling of the Isabella was looking dated, and some other features, such as the mechanical noise from the engine, also needed upgrading. A new Isabella was developed and ready to go into production. After the compulsory acquisition of the company by the Government of the state of Bremen in 1960, the prototype was stolen from the factory’s experimental section! Much controversy and conjecture surrounds its fate, and is the subject of an article in this site.
From 1952 Borgward also built a luxury car, the Borgward Hansa 2400, with an aerodynamic profile and fastback styling. It was hand-built, and only found very limited sales, serving more as a prestige-bringer for the firm and, of course, a suitably prestigious personal car for Carl Borgward himself. Its rear end styling was altered to a conventional style in 1953 and received a new motor (a six that was really one-and-a half Isabella motors!) in 1958.
In January 1960 this new motor was the only carry-over feature in the new Big Borgward P100, a bold and handsome car with brilliantly successful air suspension. One of these cars was shown at the 1961 Melbourne Motor Show (and allegedly still exists, in Queensland!), but those Australians who ordered P100s never received their cars – the factory closed first. All commentators agree that this car would have made a huge impression on the big car market, at the expense of the Opel Kapitän and the Mercedes Benz. (One wonders if either of these firms could have been involved in the conspiracy to destroy Borgward.) The Big Borgward was built in small numbers in Mexico from 1967 to 1970. Many of these superb cars are still running, in those lucky countries where numbers of them were sold.
GOLIATH: After the War, a new version of the famous Goliath three-wheeled commercials was marketed, helping to fill an enormous need in the impoverished, bombed out country. They were built in the old Hansa-Lloyd plant (Borgwards were built in the new factory at Bremen-Sebaldsbrück, which today belongs to Mercedes Benz), and Goliath was established as a separate company to take advantage of a loop-hole that enabled a better allocation of scarce raw materials. A new version, the Goli, was released in 1955, and was built, albeit in ever diminishing numbers (its market went down as the country’s prosperity went up) until the end. A four-wheeled version was also built, but found few buyers, leading to the development of the very attractive Express range of forward-control commercials in 1953. These were offered in Australia and sold quite well here, and at least one member has several on his waiting list of cars to be restored. Quite a few other members would like one!
In 1950, Goliath released an exquisitely pretty two-door sedan. It was styled by Carl Borgward, but its engineering was designed by a team of ex-DKW engineers under contract. These men later became full employees of Goliath (and their leader, August Momberger, its Managing Director). The new Goliath had the typical DKW features of front wheel drive and a two-stroke engine. Goliaths were sold in Australia and awed motoring writers with their superb handling, which was far superior to that of any other car sold here. Once the fuel-injected model was released (a world-first shared with the German firm of Gutbrod) they were also celebrated for their outstanding economy, winning two Mobilgas Economy Runs. Two-stroke engines, while loved by some, fell out of favour in the mid nineteen-fifties, and a superb water-cooled opposed four was developed for the 1957 Goliaths. Late in 1958 the styling was updated with tasteful tail-fins, and at the same time the car was re-named the Hansa 1100. This was done because the Goliath name, associated with three-wheeled two strokes, had a ring of poverty about it in Germany. Australians, for whom the name represented a high-quality, high-performance European sports saloon, found that hard to understand. The Express underwent the same engine and name changes as the sedans and Combis (station wagons). The Hansa 1100 Combi sold especially well in Australia. It was imported (without a rear seat!) as a panel van, thereby attracting a much lower import duty. The rear seat was then supplied as an optional extra! An excellent car at a bargain price, it was one of the best station wagon buys of those years.
Goliath recognised that the styling of its cars was out-dated by the late fifties, and assigned the task of developing a new model to the Italian designer Pietro Frua. Frua had already designed a very attractive coupé for Lloyd in 1958 (only 49 were built) and his work had obviously found favour with Dr. Borgward. Frua had also served as an advisor when Borgward styled the P100. Dr. Borgward was grooming his sons to take over the engineering and business side of his company, and seems to have regarded Frua as the future “house stylist”. 
The new Hansa 1300 (its engine capacity had been increased) was an attractive four-door sedan of typical Italian line for the era, though with rather long front and rear overhang. It was a car that would have appealed very much to buyers of the time, being modern, fashionable and of the right size and capacity. Its most exciting feature was perhaps that it would have reintroduced fuel injection! What a shame no-one had the chance to buy this advanced automobile. The prototype was sold after the firm was wound up, and still exists.
LLOYD: Momberger’s team also designed a tiny economy car, which was also built in the old Hansa-Lloyd factory. To help obtain scarce raw materials, Borgward registered another new company, Lloyd – the firm that had been swallowed up by Hansa in 1912. The first postwar Lloyd was a primitive thing with a loud two-stroke motor and a fabric-covered plywood body, but at barely more than the price of a motor cycle, it sold very well. A new plant at Bremen-Neustadt had to be built to keep up with the demand. The Lloyd underwent rapid development, receiving a better 400 cc. motor (1953), and body panels progressively replaced by steel pressings.  The first Lloyds with all-steel bodies were called 400S, for Stahl (steel) (1954). A 600cc. two-cylinder four-stroke motor became available in 1955, and the Alexander, with wind-down windows and a boot with a lid (previously, access had been from behind the back seat) came in 1957. The Alexander TS, with more powerful motor, new rear suspension, and new styling details, debutted in 1958. As already noted, there was also a Lloyd Frua Coupé. Lloyds were built in Australia by L.J. Hartnett, and found a ready market.
Lloyd also built a commercial, the LT from 1952. Cheap and reliable, it was an ideal small transporter. A few of these were sold in Australia. A restored utility survives in South Australia. The LT was also available as a wagon with three rows of seats – the world’s first “people mover”!
The Lloyd had developed into an attractive car, but it was reaching the end of its potential. A new car with attractive, modern styling (again by Carl Borgward) was developed in 1959. It was named the Arabella, an obvious association with the successful Isabella. Originally it was planned to have the Lloyd 600 motor, with a correspondingly small engine compartment. The heavy body was then found to need more power – but the press tools had already been ordered! A new engine, a compact version of that in the Hansa 1100, had to be developed, greatly adding to the cost of building the Arabella. Lloyd’s inexperience in developing an entirely new car proved very expensive. In the end the Arabella was an excellent car as well as an attractive one, but it brought the company huge losses and made the Borgward Group vulnerable to the malicious interference that would kill it. 
Shipments of Arabellas reached Australia and some survive – but none in our Club. Early Subarus had motors that almost exactly copied that in the Arabella, and parts are even said to be interchangeable.
 
In this short history, you have seen that Borgward continually upgraded cars and introduced new models as they were needed, intelligently adapting to the changing market. Models were kept in production long enough to pay off tooling costs, but replaced at the right time as they became obsolete. Borgward was a well-run company that, if not destroyed by treachery and vicious misuse of government power, would be a thriving firm today.
 
Written by Marius Venz; Copyright © 2010 Borgward Car Club of Australia Inc. The use of this article by other not-for profit car clubs is permitted provided full credit is given.