Borgward History at a glance….
All you need to know about the man’s incredible life.
I noticed a few sites linking to a site run by Russel Smithies. This site is no longer running, so using the Internet archive I’ve pulled up some of the pages and plan to re-post some of the content. If anyone minds me doing this please advise and I’ll take it down! Here’s a great start – the short version of Carl Borgward’s life.
Carl F W Borgward (1890-1963)
10 November 1890
Carl was born, near Hamburg Altona, the youngest child in a struggling coal merchant’s family of twelve. Little Carl’s first encounter with wheels were those pulled by his father’s horses.
Young Carl spent most of his after school tome tinkering with things mechanical. He repaired old clocks, sewing machines and the like. He also liked to carve models out of wood.
In the ten or so years before 1912 Carl worked as an apprentice engineer for Mencke and Hambrock of Altona, a machine construction company. After passing his final exam at the Hamburg machine construction school, he moved to Hannover and became a student of it’s Technical High School. Meanwhile he earned a living as an employee in a steel construction company’s office.
Carl moved to Bremen where he started his first full-time employment as an engineer for the steel construction firm of Schellhass and Druckenmuller. In 1914 he moved to Berlin to work as an engineer for a salary considered high for a man ofhis age.
Carl was conscripted into the German Army during WW1 and was seriously wounded. He spent many months in a military hospital and was given official leave before war’s end. He started a new job for the Bremen based textile manufacturer Franke and traveled all over Germany- responsible for the company’s after sales service. He came to head the company’s technical department.
Carl became the partner of Ernst Baerold, a tire merchant in the company Bremer Reifen Industrie. This relatively small factory made a varied of products, mainly agricultural machinery, such as bean cutters, some of which were exported. Its business was a very much up and down operation, and Carl soon changed that. He and 20 workers started to manufacture parts for the new automobile industry. The war had taken its toll and a strong demand for replacement parts such as radiators andmudguards existed.
The Hansa-Lloyd company, in the same Bremen suburb as Hastedt, had been established as a car and truck makers since 1905/06. They soon noticed Carl’s active operation and within a year became its most important subcontractor.
Carl employed 60 worker, became sole partner in the company and renamed it ‘Bremer Kuhlerfabrik Borgward & Co.’ V-Type radiators were the main product. Carl first dreamt, then planned, to make his own vehicles. Friedrich Kynast became Carl’s right-hand man in planning and design and the pair created small, open, water-cooled twin cylinder, two stroke cars. The engine (DKW) and front axle were not made by the pair. (Friedrich Kynast became Carl’s partner and manager in the post-WW2 Goliath factory)
The radiator factory moved into much larger Bremen-Neustadt premises. The problem of space for future car manufacturing seems solved. Finance remained a stumbling block
A simple three wheel transporter powered by a 120cc DKW rear belt-driven engine was put into a modest (6 a day) production. The Blitzkarren’s (‘lightning-cart’) name did not mean it went very fast with it’s 250kg load, except in comparison to a barrow. It was first used in Borgward’s own factory and then sold predominantly to small tradesmen who could afford its 980 Reichs Marks, but not the RM3,500-5,000 and more for other light commercial vehicles such as the Opel and DKW.
ILO-engines were used instead of DKW. Initial 1924/25 sales of the well-made but simple push and start auto-cart were very slow. Carl was often seen demonstrating them in and around Bremen. Old friends were trying sales in Hamburg and Hannover. New agencies among, for example, cycle workshops and farming operations needed a lot of convincing, then training. In July 1924 Blitzkarren No. 100 left the Neustadt works.
Wilhelm Tecklenborg, who came from the wealthy shipbuilding and shipping company Norddeutsche Lloyd, saw the Blitzkarren’s potential and entered as a partner in Borgward’s company. Carl remained sole owner of the land and buildings. Wilhelm Tecklenborg sold the Blitzkarren under licence with major sales to the German Post Office, giving the vehicle excellent publicity.
The Goliath ‘Rapid’ three-wheeled commercial a very successful development of the Blitzkarren. It featured three wheel brakes, a reverse gear, a starter and a clutch. It could carry between 500-600kg. The demand was very strong at its low price of RM1,100.
Rapids and small Goliath standard cars were being made by the thousands, the new company, renamed Goliath-Werke Borgward & Co, moved with 300 workers to the new larger premises of former coachbuilding company Gaertner. The building was situated straight opposite the old Hansa-Lloyd Works.
The world economic crises arrived. The sales of inexpensive light cars prospered but those of more expensive medium and large cars dwindled. Carl and Wilhelm obtained a majority shareholding in Hansa-Lloyd AG, Carls former main customer. That company went bust but its operation including land and buildings, went into Carl and Wilhelm’s new company, Hansa-Lloyd-Goliath Werke-Borgward & Tecklenborg. They did not need to put up any money for this important takeover but agreed to pay all Hansa-Lloyd’s debts to their bankers.
The two new partners stopped HL’s production of luxury cars, but continued its line of trucks. Production and sales of the new, light tax and driving licence free, Goliath Pioneer (a small fabric-clad 3-wheeled sedan ) prospered. It’s price was RM1,460. Also introduced were the Hansa ‘Konsul’ and Hansa ‘Matador’.
The new light wooden framed Hansa 400 and 500 (air-cooled, rear-engined, four wheelers) became the predecessors of the sucessful post-war small Lloyds. Borgward received his first government order for 50 trucks in preparation for war
The new Hansa 1100 four-cylinder two door all-steel Sedan became Borgwards first real car. It cost only RM2,750. Total production increased in yearly jumps (from 4,210 in 1932 to nearly four times that number, 16,775, in 1936). Borgward now used giant steel presses. The six cylinder models, Hansa 1700 and 2000’s were introduced. The 2000 was the first Borgward-made car which carried Carl’s own name on it’s grille from 1939 onwards.
Production of 222 half-tracks for war purposes
Carl Borgward became sole proprietor of the, by now important private company- he also joined the Nazi party. Mass production in the new modern Bremen, Hemelingen factory, ‘Seebaldsbruck’, began in September 1939
Borgward commenced making mainly trucks (1, 1 1/2 and 3tons) and most for military use. Under the new Schell Plan they were only allowed to continue with one car, the Borgward 2300.
Borgward employed 8,000 workers, mainly for war production of artillery vehicles.
More than one third of Borgward workers were ‘sourced’ from the Soviet Union
75% of all four production units and machinery were destroyed at the end of the war. Carl was imprisoned by the Americans in Ludwigsburg, Southern Germany. 400 workers restart production and one year later approximately 2,000 people were again employed.
68% of production = trucks, the other 32% repair and parts manufacture. No car production.
After two years and ten months, Carl regained control of the Bremen company. Until then it was skilfully managed by his former sales manager, Schindelhauer. With raw materials controlled by the Allied Forces and in extremely short supply, Carl formed three separate companies, Borgward, Lloyd and Goliath, thus ensuring three times higher supplies of raw materials
Introduction of the new Borgward Hansa 1500, first totally new postwar German production car and the Goliath 750 three-wheeler.
Start of the Lloyd LP300 car production with its round fabric-clad wooden body, nicknamed the Leukoplastbomber (or in English, the ‘Band-aid Bomber’). Approximately 45,000 were made between 1950-57
Introduction of the ‘Isabella’
The successor of the Goliath 1100, which received a bad name, was called the Hansa 1100. These (Goliath)Hansa 1100’s, the earlier two-stroke injection Goliath 700’s and mid-fifties Lloyds were widely exported as Sedans, Coupes, and Combi wagons.
Introduction of Borgward’s top of the line P100 and Arabella
The Bremen City Council took control of all companies and appointed BMW man Semler as official receiver
4,000 workers out of the 23,000 in 1961 continue to work during the liquidation manufacturing period. Hanomag took over part of the Seebaldsbruck Works for it’s truck production. Bussing continued to manufacture Borgward trucks under its name. BMW filled the gapin the German car market with its 1500 and 1800 models
The Borgward car machinery for the Isabella and P100 models was sold to Mexico. Isabellas were always popular in South America, assembled at a plant near Buenos Aires in Argentina, and later in Brazil. Other smaller assembly plants were in Surbaja, Indonesia and Manila in the Philippines.
Carl died, aged 73. He had never, in fact, been made bankrupt- all creditors were paid up in full. All he would have needed to carry on was bridging credit after the ‘Arabella’ mishap.