Industry progress was halted immediately after the announcement of World War II. Once-enjoyed tranquility had turned to ruin and German industry was nearly devastated, which included the destruction of the Borgward factory. Facing this disheartening situation, Carl Borgward had, before him, unprecedented challenges. A judgment loomed over the 40-year-old tycoon.
Indeed, the war had not shattered Carl Borgward’s dream. Like embers after a fire, he was poised a new opportunity would materialize. Finally, in 1949, as the world reembraced peace, the German economy showed signs of recovery. With courage and perseverance, Carl Borgward gathered former company engineers and designers once more to formulate a comeback. His extraordinary insight played a key role in the comeback – ascertaining that most automobile manufacturers were still obsessed with pre-war design concepts– design concepts which fell behind the designs found in the United States. To make a quick return, he once again found a reason to innovate. This time, he perfected the “pontoon” design genre from the US to create the Hansa 1500, his first new model after the war.
Hansa 1500 made a sensation at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show! The success of the Hansa 1500 once again proved Carl Borgward’s ability to foresee future demand and come up with an idea with the potential to succeed. By then, Borgward became a well-known name in the industry. Postwar Germany’s automotive industry experienced a new “renaissance” in German automobile demand following the introduction of Borgward’s Hansa 1500. Automobile companies like Mercedes-Benz, Ford, and Opel successively adopted the “pontoon” design, which remained popular for 10 years following Borgward’s initial release of the Hansa 1500 in 1949.
Complacency never factored into this automotive genius’ playbook. Not satisfied producing the most popular models; in his scrutiny, peak speed and excellent control are tantamount to high-quality automobiles. Under his keen interest in car racing, Borgward was credited as the first German car brand to return to the race track after the war.
Due to the seemingly prohibitive sum required to enter auto racing, his team opposed the decision. Carl Borgward, however, stood firm on his decision despite the detractors to create INKA, a sports car with a streamlined aluminum alloy body. Borgward’s INKA raced on the Montlhery track in France, breaking a dozen world records and it, along with Porsche Spyder, was benevolently nicknamed Heroic Duo, asBorgwardtied Porsche for this coveted title.
In 1950, to continue the company market leadership position, Carl Borgward researched heavily into engine technology. A giant leap in the field of automotive engines occurred when FSI (Fuel Stratified Injection) was applied for the first time into the Goliath GP700! This technology brought efficiency automobile engines. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Bosch, and Siemens have all invested in R&D to strengthen this technology. Nowadays, FSI (Fuel Stratified Injection) technology has become an essential feature standard for nearly every car brand.
Entering into additional segments early was another strategy used to beat the competition. Borgward’s Lloyd LP300, the result of closely monitoring customer demand, fulfilled market potential as one of the world’s first compact cars. For the first time, it adopted new materials to replace the steel body, ushering in a new epoch with a lightweight body to compete with the Beetle. Compact cars failed to attract attention in the traditional dealer showroom, however, but this didn’t deter Carl Borgward. Instead, he decided to build an independent sales network, recruiting compact car dealers and setting up sales and repair shops across Germany. This initiative was later emulated by Smart. Correct market segmentation and proper marketing strategy resulted in substantial numbers for the Lloyd LP300 and its later models became market leaders. By the time Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Opel were aware of market opportunities in this segment, it became difficult to challenge the Borgward brand
A new technological breakthrough was revealed in 1953. No car manufacturer in Europe was able to integrate automatic transmission into a car in the early 1950s, seen as a very advanced concept in that era. While others shied away, Carl Borgward saw this as an opportunity and began to experiment, until he successfully created the Hansa 2400, the first luxury car with an optional automatic transmission. The innovative three-gear transmission and hydraulic torque converter were independently developed in-house, highlighting Borgward’s innovative organization.
In 1954, Borgward’s greatest masterpiece was created. Carl Borgward, at the age of 64, designed the Isabella, his most aesthetically-pleasing vehicle to-date. Isabella became an instant sensation as a car that had all the gusto, including a new engine, chassis, and body. To cater to consumer preferences, Isabella had an elegant aerodynamic body with extensive use of chrome trims. Once launched, it competed directly with the Mercedes 180 and received wide fanfare: “Isabella has an irresistible charm. With its streamlined appearance, spacious interior, outstanding temperament, and amazing speed, it is such a marvelous model.” Market feedback and consumer demand greatly encouraged Carl Borgward to extend the vehicle line-up to include the Isabella convertible sedan, TS version, station wagons, and various other models. Among the new lineup, the Isabella two-door coupe was named as the German dream car in this ‘economic miracle period’. Isabella sales exceeded 200,000, no doubt a triumph in that era.