19-20 January 2017

Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection

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Lot 180

1961 Borgward Isabella Rally Car

  • Chassis no. 1169189
  • Engine no. 1353900

Sold for $27,500

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.

  • 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

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!

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more