9th Borgward International Meeting Essen 1983

ESSEN 1983

For the third year running we have had a run abroad and this time to Essen, the famous industrial city. The venue for our meeting was at the Baldensee Regatta House - a most picturesque lake where the activities range from fishing to canoe racing and indeed even the use of small radio controlled boats was in evidence. The run to Essen followed the usual pattern, i.e. for my part a start from Poole to Dover, this year picking up Archie Wilson from Liss and Nigel Ashdown from the James King pub at Peas Pottage. The journey was uneventful except that I forgot to put my radiator cap back on the radiator when I checked the car that morning necessitating me drawing on my spares box only to find the said cap some 700 miles later wedged in the grill – how’s that for Borgward suspension! After a pleasant lunch we journeyed through to Maidstone hoping to see Fred Hovell's daughter and son in law who it transpired were away, our ending up having a walk through the apple orchards getting a breath of air before the crossing. The crossing to Zeebrugge was accomplished in 5 hours and a very smooth and pleasant journey, our having met up with David Stride and Rob Miller who arrived at Dover a short time after us in David's white coupe Once in Zeebrugge it was decided to press on to Antwerp using the motor way route and thereafter to take secondary roads down into Germany.
It was quite foggy to begin with and after a while I had to stop as I started to fall asleep at the wheel so David did the honours with his tea making paraphernalia, which was enjoyed by all. The weather was generally overcast and cool which made for a more pleasant journey which took us through Knocke, Gent onto Antwerp (at this joint David Stride's Coupe decided to shed a windscreen wiper but as luck would have it he was able to retrace his steps and find it) and we pressed on to a place called Turnhouse which was absolutely horrid and on our way saw 4. London buses parked up - Nigel Ashdown said they always seem to turn up when you did not want them! Once into Germany the style of driving changed completely to a more regulated and regimented demonstration (the Belgium drivers are appalling no wonder, as apparently until recently, Belgium drivers were not subject to any form of driving test). We stopped for breakfast and had a sleep except for Archie Wilson and Rob Miller who went on a short walk and nearly got charged at by a bull which had previously been eyeing up the maroon bodywork of 785 NPJ.
Thereafter we pressed on arriving at Essen at 3.40 p.m. and booked into our hotel, the only notable occurrence during the latter part of the journey was the sighting of a 1963 Mercedes Benz 220 Cabriolet which was being driven by an equally gorgeous looking young woman who unfortunately was totally oblivious of the fact that she was being followed by two vehicles of a similar era.
Once installed in the hotel Archie, Nigel and myself went on a food hunt and ended up in a very pleasant little restaurant and thereafter visiting the camp site where David and Rob had pitched their tent ending up in a beer kellar which was live with younger generation who had never seen a Borgward before and instead of me parking with my usual aplomb I cobbled it up completely and when I did, in fact, succeed in parking everybody clapped.
I could imagine the statement of the day being "ah ze mad Inglisher mid funny oil German wagon tilt ze steering puler on. ze vrongensiden!"
Me next day (Saturday) we all trundled off to the Regatta House
signed in, parked up and made ready for the 10th Borgward Interessengemeinsehaft Teffren-" There were already numerous Borgward vehicles on display including a very early 2,400 Hansa Sport Nigel Ashdown used to have one of these in years gone past, the owner believing it to be the only one running – you can
imagine his surprise when half an hour later two more arrived, one of which was driven from Sweden. Isabellas were there in large numbers including a very nice Cliff Grey Combi identical to Fred Hovell's car (for one moment I thought he had sprung a surprise on us and come to the meeting by another route ). Lloyd/Borgward Arabellas were also well represented as were the B2000 A 9 seater 4 x 14 ex German Army Staff cars (Kubelwagens) plus a very large B555 4 x 4 Wireless truck converted into a sumptuous motor caravan. The other vehicles included the Big Sixes, numerous Hansa/Goliath saloons and a Combi.
As is usual at these events, much Borgward talk ensued and it was good to be able to have a thorough look at other peoples vehicles and to see the loving care and attention that must have gone into the restoration of them. Our lunch consisted of a pre packed offering which one handed over a voucher in addition to which there was plenty of beer available.
At 2.00 p.m. we all convoyed to the Gruga Stadium where the driving
tests which were open to all Borgward Interessengemeinschaft members took place. Everybody had a go and some very fast times were put up by some of the most unlikely looking vehicles. I hitched a ride in one of the Kubelwagens and considering their bulk and weight, they are remarkably nimble machines. The Isabellas were, of course, at a great advantage having such an excellent turning circle and this was evidenced by the fact that David Stride was second overall in the driving test for which he won a prize.
After the driving test we retired to our camp sites/hotel accommodation in readiness for what we hoped was going to be a sumptuous evening meal, which in the event turned out to be a bitter disappointment consisting of two sausages and a roll.
This contrasts markedly with the very fine spread that we had at Bremen, admittedly sponsored by Mercedes Benz and the excellent buffet that we had at the Papendal at Arnhem in 1981.The above notwithstanding the atmosphere was very congenial and as the beer flowed the language barrier diminished to the extent that I found myself having quite a sensible conversation with a variety of people and indeed most were very interested to see photographs of the late lamented Secretarial 60, its demise being chronicled elsewhere. The prize giving took place during the middle of the evening and I was surprised to find that I had won a prize for being the Englishman who had travelled the greatest distance from the UK to the event resulting in my giving a vote of thanks in English which was ably translated into German by Helmut Loges, President of the German Club.
As the evening drew to a close 1 was able to stand at a vantage point overlooking the Baldensee from the Regatta House and to caste an eye on the vehicles parked at the foreground all sizes and shapes - what a pity that the late Carl Borgward is not alive to see it as I am sure he would have been very proud, perhaps he was with us in spirit!
At the close of the evening, discretion being the better part of valour, caused us to go home by taxi, NPJ having been left in the capable hands of one of the German members who happened to have a very large Alsation dog. Sunday meant a return to the Regatta House and more Borgward talk. and at the auto jumble T. was able
to acquire some original Borgward carpet for my good friend Bob Dicker who is restoring Isabella 60.The morning was uneventful., but nevertheless enjoyable and at about mid-day people started to drift away on their homeward journey. By mid afternoon the car park was looking a little bare and left to our own devices, we returned to the hotel and had a little snooze while David Stride and Rob Miller shot off to Dusseldorf to acquire a complete Arabella horizontallyopposed 4 cylinder engine which being so compact, enabled David to put it in his Coupe boot in such a way that the boot actually closed.
Nigel, myself and Archie went out for another meal and the other two joined us for a drink later on in the evening which was a pleasant finish t what had been very enjoyable week-end.
Monday morning dawned bright and sunny. David Stride and Rob Miller set forth to Bremen where David wanted some further spares for his Arabella and meanwhile the rest of us, including incidentally, George Sinclair who had driven over in his van on his usual spares pilgrimage, drove off to
Neuweid for a look around the Borgward museum owned and run by Herr Schramm. We were in sole doubt as to whether or not we would be able to visit this museum in view of the shocking floods which had afflicted Koblenz which is only a few kilometers up the road from Neuweid, happily, Neuweid missed this disaster and the museum was found to be as intact as it had been in 1982. Many of the vehicles that were there I had seen before, but Herr Schramm appears to have acquired a number of early Goliaths, but the vehicle which was particularly interesting was an Isabella TS saloon which was manufactured out of parts by a firm in Frankfurt in 1966.It was basically the 1962 specification, but the seats were from a 1321 GT Volvo and the mounting bracketry had been modified to fit. 1 sat in this vehicle and the seats were truly very comfortable and one sat far higher than one usually comes to expect in an Isabella. I was told that some of these 1966 models were, in fact, fitted with B18 Volvo engines. After the visit and a quick snack, we made our way towards the German/Butch border at which point George Sinclair took his leave of us wanting to make Arnhem before nightfall and left to our devices, Archie, Nigel and myself set about finding a suitable hotel and we ended up at the Stations Hotel Venio and surprise it transpired that the late father of the owner used to have a Borgward Isabella - the result was we were well in! Another meal ensued (there were other things to do than eat!) and Nigel Ashdown and myself went and had a look at Venlo and ended up in a beer house the owner of which had a great feeling for the 50/60's pop music which, of course, is very nostalgic and resulted in much beer being consumed and a somewhat inebriated RRJ and Nigel Ashdown at the end of it all.
Next morning (and a slight hangover) we made a swift shopping expedition into Venlo in order to get presents for our families which once accomplished, we set off for the homeward trip to Zeebrugge, basically completing the route in the reverse order and arriving at the port at 6.00 p.m. on the same evening. We were not due to board the ferry until 4•00 the following morning and felt that it was foolhardy to remain and by the payment of a small extra charge, we were on the boat by 7.00 and back in the UK by 10.30 (British Summer Time). The remainder of the journey was in darkness and I was particularly glad that I had taken the trouble to heed Fred Hovell's articles on the improvement of the performance of 6-volt headlamps because I find that mine are excellent. The homeward journey took us via Gatwick to drop off Nigel Ashdown and then on to Liss where we arrived at Archie's house at P.45 a.m. spent the remainder of the night at Liss being awoken at 10.00 a.m. with a cup of tea and thereafter I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before the final leg of my journey back to Poole.
The trip was a most successful one, spoiled by lack of numbers and this was brought about by a change of date and, dare I say it, lack of communication between the German Club and ours, a matter that I hope will be rectified next year. In conclusion, therefore, a trip enjoyed by us all and without any mechanical nastiness over the 1100-mile journey - in fact, PM ran like a clock?
ze mad Inglisher!

Robert Richmond-Jones

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