The Borgward Isabella is an elegant car manufactured in Germany from 1954 to 1962. It competed with Mercedes-Benz and BMW, two of its better-known contemporaries, offering comfort, style, and ironclad build quality. In the US market, it developed a loyal following, which is why cars like this black coupe turn up from time to time.
According to WD Detailing, this Borgward Isabella sat untouched in a shed for 25 years. While not as rare as a Bristol 408 or Daimler DB18, it’s still unusual to stumble across one. This particular car is even more unusual because of its backstory – it was stored in a barn in Europe that caught fire, charring the paint before it was imported to the US.
While the car’s backstory is unusual, how it was extracted from the barn is even more strange. The Isabella is part of a collection of rare and unusual cars, including a Bentley used by Queen Elizabeth on visits to the US. When the WD Detailing crew was unable to extra the Isabella from its resting spot, they rigged up a tow point using the Queen’s Bentley to drag it into the light of day.
Unfortunately, between the original barn fire and the years of neglect, the Isabella is too far gone to restore cosmetically. However, since the owner is preparing to sell it, the coupe is going to get cleaned up to reveal its actual condition. Hopefully, someone will buy it and do a frame-off restoration, bringing it back to its former glory.
Even so, RJ is able to work some magic and get the car ready to sell. The hood suffered most of the fire damage, which destroyed the paint, but the roof, sides, and trunk gained some of their lustre back. In terms of condition, the Isabella is comparable to the 1971 Plymouth Barracuda we saw last month and in far better shape than the Acura NSX sunk in a river.
For a time in the 1950s, Borgward outsold Mercedes-Benz and BMW thanks to its build quality, engineering, and reasonable price. Unfortunately, the automaker fell on hard times in the early 1960s. The final blow came when its founder, Carl F. W. Borgward, died of a heart attack in 1963. Years later, the Borgward name made a comeback in the 2010s, only to declare bankruptcy in 2022.