Borgward Isabella

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Borgward Isabella

1954 - 1961
4 cyl.
1493 cc
60 bhp
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
81 mph
Number Built:
4 star
Borgward Isabella
The 'Isabella' had a 1493cc inline 4 cylinder OHV engine of 75 x 84.5 mm bore and stroke with a single downdraft carburetor, fitted to an extremely short intake manifold inside the rocker box.

This actually gave the appearance of an OHC engine as opposed to it being an extremely efficient pushrod powerplant of 60-bhp din (65 bhp SAE). The pretty car was spacious, thoroughly well made and comparatively light for its size at 1,000 kg.

Light aluminum alloys were used extensively for the gearbox, cylinder head and on many engine parts, covers, etc., as opposed to the cheaper and noisier pressed steel.

The body not only looked ultra new for 1954 it comprised a unit construction body and separate front and rear sub frames, the front one being rubber mounted. The front suspension featured unequal wishbones, coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, checked by an anti roll bar.

At the rear was a fully independent swing axle, again featuring coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers. The front of the axle was located by radius arms, pivoting in rubber bearings, the differential being mounted to the rear subframe in large rubber bushes.

Very large hydraulic drum brakes were used with twin leading shoes at the front and single leading at the rear, complete with wide aluminum alloy shoes.

The gearbox had four all synchromeshed forward speeds and one reverse and was actuated by an extremely efficient and precise column gearchange marred only by its rather long throws.

The handbrake was mounted under the dashboard and was the umbrella type that, with the bench seat, allowed three across the front and three across the back. The polished Bakelite dashboard contained three large gauges, a clock/temperature gauge, petrol gauge and the speedometer. There was a cigarette lighter with a plug in map reading light, three ashtrays, one under the dashboard and two in the rear side panels.

Ample storage space was provided comprising two door pockets, glove box and later supplemented by two retractable cord strung tubular framed map holders, mounted on the side of each footwell. Unusually, the doors had separate wind down quarter lights providing draft free ventilation. Separate heaters for driver and passenger were provided, as were separate controls.

The large white steering wheel actuated a lightly weighted and rubber coupled worm and peg or worm and roller steering box with three turns from lock to lock. The steering was very precise with a turning circle of around 32 feet; later cars being fitted with a hydraulic telescopic steering damper. The very well balanced weight distribution coupled with the low centre of gravity and all round independent suspension endowed the car with very high cornering powers.

The fuel consumption was low at around 34 mpg and the top speed was 87 mph yet Carl F. W. Borgward kept the price low by a mixed price calculation with his other products. The only real vices were the vertical fixing of the front bulkhead to the floor making it slightly awkward to rest your feet and the rather low driving position of the front seats, but these were only minor faults against all the advantages.

Although the factory-reconditioned units for items such as the engine and back axle were relatively expensive in 1954, there were no rivals.

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