Aspen Snowmass
Automobiles
LOT148
1959 Borgward Isabella Coupe PHOTOGRAPHY BY Bill Pack
Estimate: $35,000 - $45,000 USD
  • 1959
  • Borgward
  • Isabella Coupe
  • 348490
  • White
  • White with Red
  • 30,105 Miles
  • Full Concours Restoration
  • Excellent Mechanical Condition
  • Excellent Cosmetics
  • Owners’ Manual Included

The Sign of the Rhombus

Production of the beautiful Borgward Isabella Coupe began in 1957, and its immediate popularity among sporting enthusiasts was another success for the Borgward Company. The 1959 Isabella Coupe being offered here represents a very rare opportunity to acquire an example of this much admired sporting automobile from Bremen, Germany. It has been totally restored both cosmetically and mechanically some years ago by a mark specialist and remains a stunningly beautiful example of the Borgward Isabella Coupe to this day.

Owners

This Car’s Past

In the 1990’s, this Borgward Isabella Coupe was owned by Werner Stebner, a mark expert and restorer in Texas. This automobile was comprehensively restored both mechanically and cosmetically by Stebner during his ownership. However in 2001 he sold it to Mac Jones, a noted collector from Tennessee, who added this Isabella Coupe to his fabulous collection of automobiles. Within the past year however, Jones acquired a fully restored engine from Stebner and had it installed in this automobile. Additionally, G And S Motors of North Carolina have just completed a service and installed a new starter motor. This stunning Isabella Coupe is in outstanding condition throughout and is beautifully finished with a white exterior and red and white leatherette interior. The interior also features a nice set of instruments as well as the famous “piano key” electrical switches and a gear-shift lever on the column. There is a smallish seat for two in the back. As a result of the careful stewardship of its current owner, this wonderful Borgward Isabella Coupe, with the factory rhombus fitted prominently to its front grill, has seen very limited use and remains in excellent cosmetic and mechanical condition throughout. It is an exceptionally beautiful example and runs and handles every bit as well as it looks.

History of the Model

Carl F. W. Borgward was a north German industrialist and entrepreneur who at one time was the second largest automobile manufacturer in Germany, and who also produced commercial vehicles as well as other manufactured products. Based in the northern city of Bremen, his companies produced a complex array of automobiles from the 1920’s to 1962. The company began post-war automobile production in 1948, and thanks to the German economic miracle of the time, the company enjoyed considerable success with a range of economical compact cars. Early in the 1950’s, Carl Borgward foresaw the need to create a new line of cars that would be considerably more aspirational than its current offerings. During the development of the new automobile, a group of automotive journalists saw two people having dinner in a fashionable Bremen restaurant. They recognized Carl Borgward seated at the table with a young woman and approached him and began to ask questions about the new automobile. When one of them asked for the name of the new car, Borgward paused for a moment, then looked across the table at his young female companion and replied “Why, Isabella, of course.” The Borgward Isabella model line was introduced in 1954, and it filled the niche very nicely by attracting thousands of consumers from the growing German middle class and contributing significantly to the company’s bottom line. It was also exported to markets around the world including Australia and the US. The first model of Isabella to be offered was a two-door sedan. An independent road test at launch reported a maximum speed of eighty-one miles per hour. The testers liked the modern structure of the automobile, particularly the wide cabin, the large glass area, the effectiveness of the brakes and the inclusion of a clock on the dash. Notice was also made of the unusual row of electrical switches on the dash which were ivory in color. These switches were each in the shape of the “ivories” of a piano keyboard and numbered eight in total, a full octave! Favorable comment was also made of the Borgward Rhombus, a diamond shaped emblem with the word “Isabella” in the center and which graced the frontal aspect of each Isabella that was produced.

The chassis of the Isabella was of monocoque construction, rather than a separate body and frame, and was supported by coil springs all around. Power was provided by a 4-cylinder overhead valve engine of 1493 cc displacement with an output of 65 horsepower. It was connected to a fully synchromesh 4-speed all-synchro gearbox via an innovative hydraulic clutch. Gear changes were made through a column mounted lever, and power was delivered via a swing axle to the rear wheels.

“There are two main streams to our tale. In one, we find a convoluted record of financial coups, mergers and acquisitions… In the other, we see a diffuse, often overlapping but more often competing palette of models, which included some of the most interesting and advanced … cars of their various eras, along with several near misses and wild flights of fantasy that were even more tantalizing.”Jerry Sloniger, Borgward, Automobile Quarterly, Vol. 26. No. 3, 1988.

In 1955, Borgward introduced the Isabella estate wagon. This was soon followed by a 2-door cabriolet that featured a more powerful 75 horsepower motor. In 1956 Borgward began developing a more sporting 2-door coupe to be powered by this motor and featuring a slightly shorter greenhouse. Four prototypes of the Isabella Coupe were produced and were well received by the motoring press. Carl Borgward gave one of these prototypes to his wife, Elisabeth, and she continued to drive it well into the 1980’s. Commercial production of the beautiful Borgward Isabella Coupe began in 1957, and its popularity among sporting enthusiasts was another marketing success for the company. By the time production of the various Isabella models ended in 1962, a total of approximately 203,000 had left the factory gates.

Four years after the launch of the Isabella Coupe, Borgward, the company, was gone. A recession had left the company short of cash, and neither the Bremen City Senate nor the national government in Bonn would provide the needed bridge loan. The City Senate forced Carl Borgward to turn his company over to them, and they filed for bankruptcy, needlessly some would later argue. The last Borgward came off the assembly in 1962.

Restoration History

This wonderful Borgward Isabella Coupe has been the subject of a comprehensive restoration by a mark specialist some years ago. It has been used very sparingly since restoration and remains in excellent cosmetic and mechanical condition throughout.

Market Trend

The Borgward Isabella line was perhaps the greatest success of the Carl Borgward industrial empire in its postwar years. The Germans loved these automobiles when new, and a growing number of enthusiasts feel exactly the same way about them today. In particular the Isabella Coupe has increased steadily in value in recent years. Demand has been greatest in Europe and the US, and values continue to rise. Average examples are in the $30,000 range, and concours examples can command $50,000 or more.

Summary

This stunningly beautiful Borgward Isabella Coupe has been comprehensively restored both cosmetically and mechanically by a mark specialist some years ago. Since restoration, this wonderful automobile has seen very limited use, and it is now ready to serve its fortunate next owner very well indeed, whether that be on the open road or on an important concours lawn.John Kleen, Vintage Consultant

References

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