Editor’s note. This piece was originally published on DTW in May 2015.
At the end of the 1950s, there was a sizeable group of home-owned players in the German industry, but we shall concentrate initially on three of them — Borgward, NSU and Glas. Only the first few paragraphs of this piece are fact, the rest is entirely speculation as to how things could have worked out quite differently, yet might have ended up much the same.
Borgward had been making cars since the 1920s. They were fast to restart manufacture after the War, being the first German company to put an all new car into production, the Hansa 1500. This was replaced in 1954 by the mid-sized Isabella and that was joined in 1959 by both the larger six-cylinder P100 and the smaller Arabella, featuring a flat 4 boxer that Subaru is believed to have used as a reference point when developing their own engine.
Having a decent and attractive range, with innovative yet sensible specifications, Borgward’s pricing was keen, undercutting similar Mercedes models. The only problems were a reputation for introducing under-developed cars too early and, crucially, Carl Borgward’s attitude that the best way to Continue reading “Alternative Paths In An Unpredictable Industry”
We recall the extraordinary career of Walter Schätzle, a former Borgward dealer whose dedication to the marque briefly made him West Germany’s smallest carmaker.
The collapse of any large manufacturing business is a traumatic and far-reaching event. Lawyers quibble, accountants audit, suppliers stumble, vultures gather. When the collapse involves an automaker, loyal customers feel that their prized vehicles are like orphans and may find that their only support and solace is the dealer who sold and maintained their cars. Many of those dealers will have moved on to other franchises – they have to make a living – but some remain in the thrall of the defunct marque, with a dedication that far transcends vulgar commerce.
The collapse of Bremen-based Carl F W Borgward GmbH in 1961 shook the assuredness of Wirtschaftswunder West Germany, but the controversial story of that event is beyond the scope of this article. One former Borgward dealer, Walter Schätzle (1928-2021), not only went above and beyond expectations to Continue reading “Walter Schätzle – Resurrection Man”
A much-derided, now defunct German carmaker comes under the spotlight.
A simple yet honest emblem: name, white and red stripes, triangle. Mathematically sound, an engineers friend, a car company that had two bites of the cherry only to be swallowed up due to that thorny old subject of filthy lucre. Some history: The Bremen based shipping company Norddeutscher Lloyd took the automotive plunge as it were in 1908, building electric powered vehicles under license. Petrol engines soon followed, as did a merger with Hansa in order to Continue reading “The Welsh Sounding Car Company. From Germany”
Two carmakers go head to head over a bright, shiny object.
Diamonds are Forever, or so Ian Fleming told us in 1956. It’s not the view of Munich Regional Court No.1, which found in favour of Renault’s challenge to Chinese-owned Borgward AG’s use of a rhombus-shaped badge firmly in the tradition of their 59 years defunct Bremen-based predecessor company.
As if Borgward AG’s present woes were not great enough, the Bremen newspaper Weser-Kurier reported on 9 May 2020 that Groupe Renault have won an injunction against Borgward AG over the use of their diamond badge design.
Nearly four years have passed since neue Borgward presented the BX7 at the 2015 Frankfurt IAA. DTW’s Borgward-obsessive shares his impressions of one of the first Shanghai-built cars to arrive in the great lost carmaker’s home city.
The car is a left hand drive BX7 TS Limited Edition, not long arrived at Bremerhaven from Shanghai, but tested in south-east England. The first visual impression is how easily the car fits into the British carscape, registering in the visual continuum as just another big European SUV, not quite an Audi Q5 or XC 60 clone, but only by the grace of some well-executed details of its own. There’s nothing awkward or ham-fisted about the styling, but neither is there much that hints at the brand’s ancestry in a subtle or ingenious way. Continue reading “Have I come in at a bad time? The Borgward BX7 TS”
More than five decades after the incident, Borgward’s dramatic bankruptcy is retold in dramatic fashion.
Carl F W Borgward is driving his wife in a Hansa 2400 saloon along a deserted stretch of b-road when he hears that the end for the company bearing his name has come over the radio. He immediately stops the car, gets outside and gasps for air, staring into nothingness.
This is the not particularly subtle introduction into Die Affäre Borgward (The Borgward Affair), a tv movie about the downfall of Germany’s then fourth largest car maker, which was first broadcasted in January 2019. The somewhat fragmented narrative is divided into story strands about Carl Borgward himself, Borgward’s Insolvenzverwalter, Dr Johannes Semler, the goings-on inside Bremen’s senate and, because no German tv movie can Continue reading “(Film) Review: The Borgward Affair”
The tension must be mounting at this point. Driventowrite is nearing the summit of the European motoring pantheon.
The thin air makes every upward centimetre a struggle against gravity. The cold gnaws into the core of your bones. To put it another way, the competition is fierce as more and more cars struggle to be near the epicentre of the best European motoring has offered. So many vehicles and only one can Continue reading “Great European Cars: Number 3”
Autocar’s 23 December 1960 issue contained a comprehensive road test of a technically advanced offering from Bremen – the Borgward 2.3. What did they make of it?
Something of a technical novelty in the 1950s, air suspension had been offered by a number of US carmakers, including Buick, Rambler and Cadillac at the tail-end of the decade, before cost and complication saw its withdrawal, yet it remained a largely theoretical concept for European car buyers.
Across the Atlantic, while Mercedes-Benz were developing an air suspended system, the Swabians were comprehensively pipped to the market by Hanseatic upstarts, Carl F.W. Borgward GmbH in 1960. Having debuted their largest and most ambitious saloon at the previous year’s Frankfurt motor show, the P100 (or 2.3) was offered with the option of air suspension the following April, which later that year became standard equipment. Continue reading “Road Test Retrospective – The Grosse Borgward”
Some time back, DTW surveyed the world of cars to produce a definitive top 50 of all time. In this series, we narrow the field to European vehicles and present a run-down of the best Eurocars ever. The ratings are based on a weighted combination of engineering, styling, boot capacity and overall significance.
We will start off by a reminder of why a Seat, a Borgward and a Fiat are remembered as they are.
Chinese-owned, Stuttgart-headquartered Borgward AG presented an all-electric Isabella concept at the Frankfurt IAA. Is it a hubristic Frankenstein fantasy, or a worthy bearer of the revered name?
Die Isabella ist tot, es lebe die Isabella. Ein gute idee is besser als tausend Bedenken.
(The Isabella is dead, long live the Isabella. A good idea is better than a thousand concerns.)
So said Dr. Jochen Schlüter, the fictional chairman of the living and thriving Borgward AG in Andreas B Berse’s 2006 contra-factual novel ‘Borgward Lebt’ on the occasion of the launch of the fourth generation Isabella at the Frankfurt IAA in September 1989. Continue reading “Diamond Dream, or Ruined Rhombus?”
On the morning of 3 March 2015, a middle-aged man from Wolfsburg, who had chosen a career in the liquor trade in preference to his father’s and grandfather’s calling to the motor industry, stood before the international media, gave a brief history of his grandfather’s business, then introduced the new venture carrying the family name. In the fifteen allotted minutes we were introduced to the venture’s CEO and “business strategist” Karlheinz L. Knöss, their designer Einar Hareide, and finally, distinguished Cooper-Borgward racer Stirling Moss. Continue reading “Geneva 2016 – Posted Missing: Borgward AG”
Just fifty-four years after closing down, Borgward is back with the BX-7. And it just had to be disappointing, didn’t it?
I expected a saloon or sports car.
Autobild reports that the car will be shown at the Frankfurt IAA in late September. Autobild politely call the car a classical SUV with a lightly modernised version of the Borgward emblem. The Truth About Cars thinks it looks like a Buick crossed with a Porsche. The car has a high beltline (Autobild tells us that too) and in case you wondered what the vehicle is when it passes you, it says Borgward in huge individual letter on the bootlid. It’s 4.7 metres long (which is middle-sized). Powering the car are a 244 PS 2.0-litre turbo petrol and a 410 PS plug-in hybrid system. How much for this? €26,000 reckons Autobild. Continue reading “Borgward’s BX-7 Revealed”
USA Today reported that a Mercedes Benz executive, Ulrich Walker, will oversee the return of Borgward to production after a bit of a gap.
The article reported that Walker’s vision for the car is affordable luxury, which is rather intriguing as this translates as that class of car where there has been the most fatalities in the last few decades: Triumph, Lancia, Rover, Saab, Oldsmobile, for example. Further, mainstream brands that have had products that reached into the affordable luxury sector have been less and less successful. Continue reading “More Borgward News”
Following our recent discussions on both Advertising and the Borgward revival, DTW have received an unsubstantiated transcript of a meeting between Borgward’s Head of Marketing and the Creative Director of their London-based Advertising Agency.
Dieter, Dieter, Mein Herr Geezer. How goes it?
Good morning Miller. Very good to see you. Everything is fine at our end. We’re gearing up for Geneva – very confident, though a bit nervous at the same time, naturally. It is all a big step. But we must discuss the film. I showed your rough edit to the board yesterday.
So they loved it, right?
Not exactly Miller. They did not feel that it projected Borgward values.
And what are they Dieter?
As we told you before. As they always were, so will they be. Solid. Dependable. Discreet. Middle Class.
So what’s the problem? That describes the guy driving the car in the ad perfectly. It took ages to find him you know. What don’t they like?Continue reading “Good To Go?”
The coffin lid groans as the once lifeless corpse reanimates
It was revealed earlier this week that Borgward, the long-dead German quality auto marque will announce their first new vehicle in over 50-years at this year’s Geneva Motor show. Borgward, who last produced cars in 1961, join Saab and Bristol amongst deceased marques making belated and in Saab’s case, serial comebacks from the grave.