Lot 180

Arizona 2017

1961 Borgward Isabella Rally Car

Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection


$27,500 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Chassis No.
Engine No.
  • Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection
  • Formerly the personal car of Borgward expert David Rocovits
  • Custom-built for driving enjoyment, with a Blydenstein Stage 3 TS engine
  • Current ownership by a knowledgeable lifelong Borgward owner and enthusiast
  • A fun and eccentric choice for various road rallies and tours worldwide

Est. 80 hp, 91.1 cu. in. OHV inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission with quick-change rear axle, independent front suspension with coil springs, independent rear swing axle with coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102.4 in.

Little-known in the United States, the high-quality and elite Borgward automobile was revered in Germany, where it was produced from 1929 until 1961. Henry Mohrschladt’s family hails from Bremen, where Borgwards were built, and, indeed, some of his relatives worked in the factory. Because of this connection, he acquired his first Borgward Isabella during his college years and grew to appreciate their rock-solid, superlative engineering. “The quality of construction was really equal to Mercedes-Benz at the time,” he notes, “with really high-quality castings, including an aluminum cylinder head. I’ve never known of anyone blowing a head gasket in one!”

The Isabella shown here was acquired by Mr. Mohrschladt from David Rocovits of Reno, Nevada, one of the foremost American Borgward experts and enthusiasts. Mr. Rocovits had built this car for his personal consumption and enjoyment, using only the best accessories and features.

An expert’s “ideal” Isabella, it incorporates a mix of Mr. Rocovits’ favorite trim components from the model’s run, including 1957-style taillights and hubcaps, and an earlier grille with a larger emblem. The transmission was professionally converted from the traditional column-shifted four-speed to a sporting “four on the floor” configuration. Most impressively, the engine was painstakingly built for the car by Mr. Rocovits to designs purchased from British Borgward guru Bill Blydenstein in so-called “Stage 3” tune, with a unique aluminum head, modified intake and exhaust manifolds, a highly modified Solex TS carburetor, and a “hot” cam. Similar to the configuration of the Borgward engine used in a Cooper raced successfully by Sir Stirling Moss, this engine is truly hot and results in very fun performance—yet with the comfortable accoutrements of a vehicle that was in the same price class as a Mercedes-Benz 220, including large, roomy seats, and a sliding sunroof.

The car is described as being wonderfully fun to drive, and, indeed, Mr. Mohrschladt has enjoyed it considerably during his ownership. He today passes it on to its next owner, who will undoubtedly find it an entertaining and unconventional choice for their favorite rally or road trip, where it will almost certainly be the only Borgward Isabella present!