A fascinating range of Bremen’s finest converged on Brooklands for the first Borgward International Meeting in the UK on 9-10 May.
Organisers John Wallis and Matt Hunt were delighted with the turnout, with 40 vehicles attending over the weekend. About a third were from overseas, with cars from Belgium and The Netherlands, plus eight fantastic commercials that came in convoy from Germany.
Fireman Werner Hilscher brought his unrestored 1959 B4500-based water tender (on the right). “It was built by Arve and was in service until ’76 when it was bought back by the manufacturer,” he explained. “It was then used as a demonstration vehicle until the company closed in ’92.
“Most pumps at the time were worked by hand but this was driven by air. It holds 1650 litres and still has the original hose and nozzles. It has a 2.4-litre, 82bhp petrol engine and four-wheel drive.”
Alongside was the superbly refurbished B4500 tipper truck of Hubertus Hennecke, president of the NVG – Nutzfarzeug Veteranen Gemeinschaft – the German association for classic lorries, bulldozer and excavators. “It was made in July 1961, so it was one of the last trucks built by Borgward,” he said. “It had been in a barn since ’68 when I bought it in 2012 and restored it over three years.”
“The lorries have come from across Germany: Bremen, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and one from Bavaria,” explained Berry Bennis who’d ridden with his mate Hennecke in the tipper. “Then we convoyed through The Netherlands, Belgium and France to the ferry for Dover.” Three of the lorries had been cleverly converted into motorhomes, including the immaculate B 655 of Hans Peter Deutschmann, which still sports its red-and-white Karl Klees livery on its Ackermann cool box body.
There was even a Goliath, the fabulous GD 750 three-wheeler pick-up of Lothar Gehlhaar from Bremen. “I had to make a new timber frame for the cab,” he said, “and let in lots of new metal before overhauling the mechanicals. The only thing I didn’t do was to paint it.”
Isabellas of all varieties featured in front of the famous Clubhouse, including the striking two-tone Coupé of Matt Hunt with the similar car that Colin Fortnam bought about five years ago. “It needed new half floors, plus parts of the sills and repair panels to all of the wings,” Fortnam recalled. “We went all round Europe in it last year – doing 3200 miles through France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany – and it didn’t miss a beat.”
Borgward enthusiasts certainly seem keen on using their cars. Manfred Sauer was one of the furthest travelled, having driven about 700km from Frankfurt in his ’59 Isabella TS – one of two original Cabriolets that were at Brooklands (in top photo). “I spent about 2000 hours restoring the car 27 years ago,” he said, “and have been everywhere with it since: Spain, the Isle of Elba, Hungary. Just 12 are known to remain of the 150 built by Karl Deutsch.”
Graham Mander had driven down from Wednesbury, West Midlands, in the immaculate dark blue ’58 Isabella TS soft-top that he began restoring in about 2000 (to the left in the top photo). “It started off as a saloon,” he explained, “but it was converted using an original Karl Deutsch roof. We go to Germany every year in it.”
Ollie Richmond-Jones’ 1957 Isabella TS was shipped new to Ghana and bought by a Lt Col Brown, who was stationed there for three years: “It eventually passed to his son, Bob, who had the car extensively restored in 1986 but then it stood for 27 years. I bought the car in 2014 and recommissioned it with my Dad, but we kept in touch with Bob, who’s now in his 80s, and took him for a ride in it yesterday.”
Dad – club president Robert Richmond-Jones – also has a project that was dormant for even longer: “I would describe is as being delightfully scruffy, but it’s a rolling restoration. It was registered in ’58 and taken off the road in ’63. The engine has been stripped and checked, but it only needed new shell bearings and a few piston rings. I bought it in 2007 was first able to drive it on the road in March last year.”
Parked next to it was Gavin Watson’s fruity sounding Isabella, which is an exact replica of the car that the late legendary tuner Bill Blydenstein raced in period.
The line-up also a super-rare ’53 Hansa 1800 diesel, one of three cars brought by Nick Driscoll. “As far we know,” he said, “it was the first commercially available diesel car in the UK, apart from taxis.”