By on May 21, 2015

1958 Borgward Isabella Coupe

Fifty-four years ago, German automaker Borgward’s sun set. With former Daimler exec Ulrich Walker at the helm of the revival, its sun may yet rise again.

Prior to becoming Borgward’s CEO, Walker was in charge of Daimler’s China operations for the Mercedes-Benz brand, USA Today reports, as well as CEO of smart between 2004 and 2006.

Christian Borgward, chairman and grandson of founder Carl Borgward, praised Walker’s “profound industrial background and broad knowledge of the premium automotive segment in Germany,” while Walker had this to say about his new role:

I’m honored to lead this respected German brand into the future. Borgward is a legendary global brand which has set industrial milestones and created brilliant stories in history. Several of its innovations and classic cars have been widely acclaimed in the industry and I am confident that Borgward will win back its place in the international automotive industry.

The historic automaker plans to unveil its first model in over five decades this September during the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show – the automaker itself returned to the scene at this year’s Geneva Auto Show – which is said to be an SUV meant to invoke “affordable luxury.” Power for the new model may either come from a hybrid or full-electric system, and production is set for 2016.

Borgward assembled over 1 million vehicles between 1919 and 1961, disappearing from the scene when financial issues forced it into liquidation. The revived automaker has financial backing from Chinese truck manufacturer Beiqi Foton, which produces trucks in a joint venture with Daimler.

[Photo credit: Steve Glover/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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30 Comments on “Reborn Borgward Hires Walker As CEO, Debuting New Model In Frankfurt...”

  • avatar

    *Eye roll*

    Yes yes, and we’ll all have new Chinese Rovers and Ginettas and more TVR’s as well. Just the other day I drove past the new Packard dealership.

    These ideas never work, pulling back up extinguished brands from long ago. The ONLY time it has was under Mercedes when they relaunched Maybach with a ton of cash, and using an existing car already. And even then, only 200 rich Chinese people bought in. Now it’s just a trim of the S-Class.

    • 0 avatar

      Instead of tarnishing old defunct brands with crap cars, why can’t they just start new brands with a clean sheet to start building their plastic fantastics.

      • 0 avatar

        I wish they could, but they always run out of money. Mercedes has near-unlimited amounts of money, and that’s why it worked for them.

        The “build a new car brand” venture is always more expensive than they think it’s gonna be, barriers to entry and all that jazz.

        And they’re aiming for luxury here, so it can’t be a plastic fantastic.

        • 0 avatar

          When Kaiser Steel owner Henry Kaiser decided to get into the car biz after WW2, he boasted having $100 million. Ford and GM executives noted that’s a start – the cost of engineering one model from the ground up back then. That’s about a billion dollars today, but a clean sheet model might cost far more.

      • 0 avatar

        “Instead of tarnishing old defunct brands with crap cars, why can’t they just start new brands with a clean sheet”

        Partially because all those pretentious idiots who talk about “heritage” and “pedigree” are the same folks everyone is trying to sell overpriced cars to.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s not to like though? Here are a bunch of folks investing their money in a new car. As a car guy, it’s all upside so long as it’s not your money. The more people trying, the more likely they make your ideal car.

      Besides, Tesla seems to be working out. Maybe it will work for these guys.

      • 0 avatar

        Tesla has a lot of things going for it.

        1. major subsidies for EV
        2. they did an unusually good job on the combo of the car, and customer service
        3. the offers something no other car offers (EV with major range)

        I do remember Borgward fondly, because my friend, George’s father had one, and furthermore, George’s father looked just like the car. In fact, I wrote a poem about that.

        But anything half a century in the past is truly in the past, and resurrections of that thing usually fail. T-bird, PT Cruiser, Chevy HR, and the New Beetle hasn’t been what I would call successful.

        And unless they have something special to offer, in the manner of Tesla, or the original Saturn (the practical person’s sporty car I certainly wouldn’t invest, or buy one.

        Lets hope they have something special to offer.

        • 0 avatar

          The PT Cruiser first off wasnt a resurected car previously sold. It had retro design cues, yes, but it wasnt a reborn version of a specific model. And, it was highly successful, it was just neglected in later years until its sales were so low that it no longer justified production. It worked out so well, that it alone is the reason GM came out with the HHR. One could also argue that it was behind Toyota’s decision to bring out the similar Matrix and to sell the bB (Scion Xb) here, as well as Honda’s Element and Nissan’s Cube. No, the Japanese products were not retro, but they were similar in other ways (being a small, FWD station wagon styled to look like anything but a small station wagon).

          When PT Cruiser came out, they couldnt build them fast enough. For the first year or so, dealers were charging above MSRP (and getting it), until supply cought up with demand. While working at a Lincoln-Mercury dealer when it came out, we took one in on trade for an AWD Mountaineer. It was decided to put it in the newspaper that Sunday. It sold hours after we opened for nearly its full MSRP, as a *used* car. A week later (the ad ran for one day only), we were still getting calls on it. Id call that a successful model launch.

          The New Beetle sells fairly well, why do you suppose VW has kept it around for 15 years and has just recently launched a fully redesigned model?

          The Ford GT, the Mini and the Fiat 500 (considering global sales) have also been successful reborn cars. The GT was so popular that Ford is doing it again.

          Also, the new-for-2005 Mustang was decidedly retro, and sparked a revolution, with renewed interest in American pony/muscle cars. The reborn Camaro and Challenger are a product of the success of the 2005 Mustang, and are selling pretty well also (the Camaro moreso than the Challenger). With that in mind, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger are reborn cars, and no one can deny the success theyve enjoyed.

        • 0 avatar

          The assumption here seems to be that they have intentions of selling in the US. My guess is, the Chinese company behind Borgward bought the name, got some good talent, and wants to appear as a foreign brand in China.

          The Chinese market is extremely brand and status conscious, so if they pull this off correctly, they’d have a solid footing.

          I would disagree and say the PT Cruiser and New Beetle did really well, especially the first two years they were on the market. They’re impossible to avoid, at least here in California. Can’t say the same for the other models you listed though.

    • 0 avatar

      “These ideas never work, pulling back up extinguished brands from long ago. The ONLY time it has was … Maybach…” What then do you think of Bugatti? Certainly you’d have to call that “working,” at least for some values of “work.”

  • avatar

    Stay dead, my friend.

  • avatar

    Went looking only for pictures of Borgwards, since I was not that familiar with them. They mostly look like Mercedes with the Borgward diamond on the nose instead of the three pointed star. Might work in the same vein as Buick is to Cadillac and Mercury to Lincoln; though that isn’t exactly working out either anymore….

    One of the Google image results was for a modern Fiat 500X looking SUV with the Borgward diamond on the nose. Didn’t know if that was an actual company image, or something some else came up with; since I could not open the link from work.

    But the name…Borgward somes like something from Bullwinkle. “BORGWARD! The executive car for Fearless Leader, assembled with love by the proud workers of Pottslyvania. The desire of Boris and Natashias everywhere….”

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree with your comparison to Mercedes, although if you’re looking back at Benz of the ’50s, maybe it’s not all that far off. But Mercedes then was a very different car from what it is now. But I hasten to add that while my friend George’s father looked like his Borgward, he did not look like any Mercedes.

      But you gave me what may be my best laugh of the week so far with your third paragraph.

    • 0 avatar

      Borgward, one of the fine nameplates available at Ralph Spoilsport Motors. Remember, take any exit on the freeway of your choice and we’ll see you here in the beautiful city of Emphysema!

  • avatar

    I just want to say, in case anyone thinks otherwise, that a modern Chevy is not the sort of car I knew and loved as a kid, and a modern Peugeot bears no resemblance to a Peugeot 404, and I could keep going through every car that was around both then and now.

    Even the MINI, which is a decent retro car, isn’t that much like the original (although it has numerous advantages over the original, and it IS fun to drive, like the original).

    • 0 avatar

      It’s funny, I remember and love the cars of my youth. Do I want to drive one? No way. I get enough real-world experience from the past flying the club 1967 Cessna 150. And that’s only because it’s cheap to fly.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Unfortunately, these resurrected marques end up being crazy-featured to be distinctive, and crazy-priced to pay for the venture. (Bugatti)

    Otherwise, you’re competing with every established hybrid/EV out there.

    Somebody on their planning team should have asked if anyone remembers Borgward, or if “Borgward” is even the right name for the company. But since they’re German, they know better. I’m 51, and I’ve never heard of them.

    • 0 avatar

      The name and emblem are both silly and outdated. I decided last night where that emblem would look good, and the name as well:

      On a deck of playing cards. That’s what it sounds/looks like.

  • avatar

    Borgward? Followed by the new NSU and DKW? Personally, I’d like a Dyna Panhard “Tigre”. Sadly, the nostalgia for old names is just that –nostalgia. I still miss my Dad’s DeSoto.

    • 0 avatar

      The name is too close to that company that makes turbochargers (Borg Warner).

      I’d rather see Porsche get back into making main battle tanks than to see these guys resurrect a dead marque that few of us have even heard of, to sell products in an already-crowded market segment. Hybrid pseudo-luxury SUVs? Don’t Lexus/BMW/Audi already cover that….and with economies of scale that these guys could never dream of?

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Borgward has got to be one of the ugliest car names ever, right up there with Ssangyong, Geely, Skoda or Tata. You really have to be a Borgward fanatic to want to resurrect that name.

  • avatar

    Nothing demonstrates success like being able to say “Yep, got me one a them spankin’ new Borgwards.”

  • avatar

    Heard of Borg-Warner clunker trannies. Borgward sounds Erich Honeker drab.

  • avatar

    If they sold the car shown with a modern drive train and safety equipment (and left hand drive), I’d be interested.

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