Nothing illustrated the brilliance of Carl Borgward as an automobile engineer better that Der Grosser Borgward (Big Borgward) introduced in 1960.
The P100 was an exciting model that replaced the big six-cylinder Hansa 2400 Pullman, which had not been a notable commercial success. Borgward’s all-new large saloon car was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1959 and had an angular contemporary design with panoramic rear window and small tail fins, reminiscent of the look Pininfarina was developing at the same time for cars like the Fiat 1800 in Italy.
The P100 (also known as the Big Six) had the same type of integral three-box monocoque chassis as the company’s successful Isabella model, and was powered by an evolutionary version of Borgward’s own six-cylinder engine. It had revolutionary self-levelling air suspension (which the company christened Airswing), sometime before this feature was introduced by rival Mercedes-Benz — the Stuttgart leviathan that was firmly in Borgward’s sights when the new saloon was introduced.
The P100’s marketing campaign made much of advanced engineering features like that pneumatic suspension, underlining the fact that Mercedes now had some serious competition at the luxury end of the market.
Unfortunately, the Big Six suffered from an old Borgward drawback —unexpected mechanical problems that only surfaced after a car had been launched, rather than being sorted beforehand.
Even so, when Bremen-based Borgward was unjustly forced into liquidation by its own state government (conspiracy theorists suggest with some covert encouragement from other German car companies seeking to suppress a feisty rival) over 2,500 P100s had been produced, suggesting that this fine car was on course to penetrate the market for big six-cylinder cars that had been dominated by Mercedes-Benz throughout the 1950s. But Rarity it was not to be.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
FIRST YEAR OF MANUFACTURE:
1960 (until 1961)
2,238 cc Straight Six
Top speed of 100 mph (161 km/h): 0-60 mph (97 km/h) around 16 se
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The hard-done-by Carl Borgward didn’t live to see the resurrection the P100 in Argentina, using the Borgward production line. Devastated by the loss of his company, he died a broken man in 1963.