Cars of Tintin Series – Borgward Isabella

borgward-isabella_cTintin and Captain Haddock bumped into General Alcazar on a Brussels street. The general seemed to be disturbed and left in a hurry. Soon Tintin realised that the General had dropped his wallet as he had walked away. Picking up the wallet, Tintin and Captain rushed across the street looking for the General. As they crossed the street, three cars are shown on the street in the background. The first was a Panhard Dyna which I described in my last post. The second car was s Borgward Isabella. Lot of people will ask, Borgward who?

goliath-pioneerSo to answer this question, let me start with a little bit about the company, which I will follow up with the Isabella. Borgward was originally founded by Carl FW Borgward in Bremen, Germany in 1929. The company produced four brands of cars, Borgward, Hansa, Goliath and Lloyd. The company was formed by the merger of two companies, Hansa-Lloyd-Werke AG and Goliath-Werke-Borgward & Co AG. One of the first vehicles produced by them was the Goliath Pioneer, a three wheeled vehicle extensively used by German post in the recession hit post World War I German economy.

borgward-bx7Borgward was a progressive company and introduced advanced technologies like air suspension and automatic transmission to the German market. However, it got into financial trouble as its working model was very expensive with all its component companies acting independently, even developing cars independently. The result was they could not compete against the bigger companies like Opel and Volkswagen which used the economy of scales to minimise cost and lower prices. The company was forcibly declared bankrupt by the creditors in 1961 under controversial circumstances as it still had 4.5 million Marks in cash after all the creditors were paid. The company has been revived by the grandson of Carl Borward with help from Chinese investors and presented its first model the BX7 at the 2015 International Motor Show at Frankfurt.

borgward-isabella_3Borgward Isabella was manufactured by Borgward between 1954 and 1962. The car was designed as the replacement to the Hansa 1500, however, the Isabella name used on one of the prototypes became more popular with the engineers as well as the media. As a result it was renamed as the Isabella. Though the car wanted to be an aspirational model, it had a smaller engine and dimensions than the Hansa 1500. The Isabella was offered in a number of variants like: –

  • 2-door saloon
  • 2-door cabriolet
  • 2-door station wagon
  • 2+2 coupe
  • 2+2 cabriolet

borgward-isabella_1The Isabella introduced the idea of a sporty middle-class car in a compact form for everyday use to northern Europe. Its Italian version of the Spanish name Isabel, satisfied the Northern European craving for sun and south. Though the car received an enthusiastic welcome into the market, the early models suffered with teething trouble. Though, it could have been acceptable at that time, Borgward’s rival, Daimler-Benz proved to the market that such teething trouble need not happen for a new model. The Isabella was positioned between Opel and Mercedes-Benz and for its size and cabin space it was considered to be great value for money.

borgward-isabella_2The Borgward Isabella had a monocoque structure and was based on the Ponton three-box philosophy.  This car was 4,390 mm (173″) long, 1,705 mm (67.1″) wide and 1,480 mm (58″) tall. It weighed in a pretty light 1,010 kg (2,230 lb). It had a drag coefficient of 0.5cd.

borgward-isabella_4To carry this body and weight, the Isabella was powered by a 1,493 cc (91 cu-inch) inline four cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine. Breathing through two Over Head Valves (OHVs) per cylinder, this engine could produce 59 BHP of power at 4,700 rpm. It also generated a pulling power of 108 N-m (80 ft-lb) at 2,400 rpm. All this power and torque was transmitted from the forward mounted engine to the rear wheels through a four speed manual gearbox and a single plate dry clutch. The shifter was mounted on the steering column as was the trend at that time.

borgward-isabella_6This 1.5 litre engine could push the Borgward to a top speed of 134 km/h (83 mph). It could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 19.6 seconds or a 0-60 mph in 18 seconds. On a drag strip it could do a quarter mile in 20.9 seconds reaching a speed of 102 km/h (63 mph) before the brakes were applied. Isabellas were raced in the 1950s by Englishman Bill Blydenstein to some success. The car had a weight to power ratio of 16.6 Kg/ HP which was better than the Alfa Romeo Guiletta  (17.4 kg/ HP) and Lancia Appia (21.6 Kg/ HP). It was even better than the weight to power ratio of the bully of the time, Fiat 1100 TV (16.8 Kg/HP).

Stopping power was provided by four drum brakes on 230 mm (9.1″) dia on all the four brakes. Handling was taken care of independent suspension having coil springs on all four wheels. The rear axle was a swing axle.

 

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