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Highway Sighting: 1958 Borgward Isabella Coupe


Reader Milton S. just spotted this on the side of the road, “A 1958 Borgward Isabella coupe, found in the weeds along Highway 47 in Vernonia, Oregon. I had one back in 1965, a fun car to drive with 5-speed on the column. This one is probably good only for parts, or perhaps a Christian burial… If interested, I suppose you need only Google Vernonia Oregon Chamber Of Commerce and they will contact the owner for you.” Thanks for sending this in Milton. We hope someone can save it!


  1. Horse Radish

    I had a couple of chances to buy one, but they were traded higher than Mercedeses that I was looking at.
    Unique design, the coupe is what you want as opposed to the Isabella 2 door sedan.
    Now a rare sight, even in L.A.
    Very reliable motor from what I heard, parts supply is limited.

    Like 0
  2. Tom S.

    My dad bought a used Isabella Kombi wagon when it was just a couple of years old, in 1965 or so. It was a nice little car, and just about as uncommon back then as it is today. The connector cable between the column shifter and transmission was a weak link that could leave you stranded. He also had to replace the flywheel ring gear a time or two. He’d buy parts from JC Whitney. They had lots of bits for it.

    Like 0
  3. Dolphin Member

    Seems to be riding a tad high at the front, so if it’s lacking in…let’s call it, motive power, the car might need an engine in addition to just about everything else.

    My vote is for a warmed up Volvo 1800cc, along with the Volvo 4-speed + OD.

    Yes, that means a hole in the floor, but WAY better than the crusher, which it looks like this poor Isabella is just a few steps away from.

    Like 1
  4. rancho bella

    I don’t reckon there would be a break even point (all a financial downhill) but I have always found them a delightful looking car.

    Like 2
  5. John Allison

    I had one of these about 15 years ago paid $75 for it and had it for 3 years.Mine had the factory sunroof and two tone paint. Before I could get to work on it I was offered $2.000 and let it go.

    Like 1
  6. z1rider

    “……..5 speed on the column.” That’s a scary thought. Finding gears (reverse in particular) on a 59 180 Diesel Mercedes I used to own was challenging enough.

    Like 0
    • Horse Radish

      …. a challenge only with worn shifter bushings.
      Precision doesn’t work well with sloppy maintenance.

      Like 2
      • Rick Rothermel

        My dad had a ’60 Kombi. Solid little car, kinda crude in spots. At certain rev levels the metal panels in the rear would start to vibrate in concert. Killer red and beige leather upholstery. 4-on the tree, first gear good for maybe 3mph.

        Get it, restore the body, have Roadster Shop whittle a chassis, put a HELLCRATE in it and become a legend at SEMA with the planet’s first $150k, 180mph BORGWARD!

        Like 0
  7. Grant

    Still many around South Africa! Never heard of a 5 speed column shift in any old car let alone a Borgward?? Maybe it was a conversion of sorts from a much later date.

    Like 1
  8. DT

    that car is a 1959 or 60,am I the only person that sees daylight where there should be floorboard. 4speed on the column,not unlike the Mercedes,of the period. still not bad.
    Id be interested

    Like 1
  9. Milt Sylwester

    If interested, contact R&R Motor Company, Highway 47 @ Main Street, Vernonia, Oregon. (503)-429-9797. DT posting above is correct as to 1959 or 60, which have a small diamond emblem in the grill as opposed to a large diamond emblem on the 1958. The car has 4 forward gear settings (standard H pattern) and 1 reverse gear setting on the column, almost same location as 1st gear.

    Like 1
    • Tom S.

      I think the small diamond emblem is by far the more attractive.

      Like 0
  10. MichailKnoller

    What happened to her ? I am looking for a Coupe, with or without engine and box ( I got plenty of that ). I am only interested in a cheap project car, as I do all by myself.

    Like 0

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