DEVOTION – THREE TALES OF TRUE LOVE
There can be only one reason for remaining loyal to a marque last seen 50 years ago: true devotion. Committed enthusiasts have been responsible for preserving the memory of BORGWARD cars over a period of several decades. They have kept the brand alive – and the legendary cars on the road.
Henry Preneux still fondly recalls the moment he fell in love with his first BORGWARD. A businessman in the suburb of Recklinghausen, where he grew up and attended school, owned an ivory-coloured Isabella TS de Luxe. “I walked past it every day on my way to primary school,” explains the 66-year-old. “I knew, of course, that this Isabella was a genuinely fast car, but I was also captivated by its beautiful curves.” His passion remains.
Henry, a parts dealer and respected restorer of BORGWARDs, had to wait more than 25 years before he could acquire a BORGWARD of his own. Initially intended as a hobby, the car ultimately changed the businessman’s life. The deciding factor was a visit to a vintage car market. “I was immediately aware of the lack of organisation,” he recalls, “And I wanted to improve the situation.”
At the age of 37, he decided to take the plunge. He resigned from his secure and well-paid job and, with the support of his wife Angelika, placed his faith entirely in BORGWARD.
As well as making reproduction parts, Henry dedicated his labour to restoring historic BORGWARD vehicles from scratch.
Henry cherishes the contacts he has established with BORGWARD fans all over the world. Many of those named in his card file of 3,500 addresses, some as far afield as Israel, are now close friends.
“From my sitting room to the workshop is just a ten-metre walk,” he says. Over a period of 30 years he has fully restored more than 65 BORGWARDs.
For Henry, BORGWARD is epitomised by the Isabella. He is particularly fond of two cars: the as-new estate he has been driving for more than 30 years, and an unprepossessing saloon that stands rather forlorn on the fringes of his property. “That’s my first Isabella, which I purchased in 1982 – I sold it two years later.” He was recently able to buy the car back. Preneux’s next big project is to restore to original condition the Isabella that wrote the first chapter of his story.
The make of 20-year-old metalworker Oskar Pfeffer’s first car was never in doubt: It had to be an Isabella. Even as a young man, he was an ardent admirer of the marque and its founder Carl F. W. Borgward. In 1960, the newly-wed Oskar was keen to purchase a car that was roomy but also sporty at heart. Unable to afford a new Isabella, he travelled from his hometown of Frankfurt to Wiesbaden with a friend and purchased a standard 1954 Isabella for 1,500 Deutschmarks. On the drive home, his friend’s Opel could not keep pace with the new acquisition.
From those days onwards, Oskar’s enthusiasm for the marque has never waned. Even the company’s collapse in 1961 did not shake his faith – he established a network of BORGWARD devotees and in the Sixties gradually became involved in buying and selling a variety of BORGWARD models and relics that had lost their popular appeal. Even when the family moved to the USA for six years, he continued to expand his collection by purchasing exported BORGWARDs.
Upon returning from the States, his BORGWARD collection now shelters as many as 30 cars. Among them are an extremely rare Hansa 2400 Pullman – Oskar is the only owner in the world to possess all three variants in a roadworthy condition – and the last-ever registered P 100, which even now has driven only 60,000 kilometres. In recent years the now 74-year-old has begun to reduce the size of his collection. “Carl F. W. Borgward has shaped my entire life,” concludes Oskar Pfeffer. With his enthusiasm for the company’s history undiminished, one wish in particular remains, namely for BORGWARD to build cars again.
Ulrich Koböke is owner of one of the largest collections of BORGWARD model cars. But the 69-year-old does not share the fanaticism of many collectors. He simply sees himself as a BORGWARD devotee who has been collecting models since childhood – no matter if they are 50- or 60-year-old originals or the recent 1:43-scale models made in China. “I just enjoy the everyday company of all these BORGWARDs,” he explains.
His collection does contain some very rare specimens, including 1:43-scale plastic Isabella and Isabella Coupé models displayed on their small cardboard boxes bearing the BORGWARD logo – formerly produced plastic models as promotional gifts for BORGWARD customers.
Ulrich’s passion for BORGWARD is steeped in family tradition. His father was a glazing merchant, who owned not only BORGWARD delivery trucks, but also an Isabella for family use. After school, Ulrich frequently took to the road in the BORGWARD B 611 Transporter to deliver panes of glass to customers. After BORGWARD’s bankruptcy, only the model cars remained as a keepsake.
In the mid-Seventies, however, Ulrich began to buy time-worn BORGWARDs for restoration as a hobby with friends. When visiting parts markets and vintage car fairs, he also continuously added to his collection of model cars.
Over the years Ulrich has extended his collection of full-scale BORGWARD as well. His favourite is a 1959 Isabella Coupé Cabriolet, acquired in 1982 to fulfil a long-held ambition. He is also the proud owner of a rare B 611 delivery truck built in 1961 – the very same model in which he made his earlier deliveries. The BORGWARD enthusiast and wine connoisseur would never contemplate selling the Cabriolet. He comments, “Taking in the fresh air of a summer evening while cruising the country lanes of Paderborn in an open-top Isabella is one of life’s unmissable pleasures.”