The International Borgward Tour makes a pit stop at the Old Santa Barbara Mission.

A gleaming display of rarely seen automobiles stopped passersby in their tracks outside Santa Barbara’s Old Mission Friday morning as the International Borgward Tour paused on its journey from Brussels to Santa Monica. The cars that took part had been manufactured from the late ’50s through 1961, explained one of the drivers, which was the closure date of the Borgward factory in Bremen, Germany. It’s been a long drive, close to a month with a few stops for some tinkering and wiring here and there, said Frank, chuckling at the mishaps.

The Borgward Isabella Estate Wagon

The group drove off from New York (the European contingent had flown from Brussels and shipped their cars), then found Route 66 in Chicago, and they’ve been picking up members along the way. Most of these vintage gems had mere tens of thousands of miles on them before embarking on the journey, which is about 5,000 miles from start to finish with many sightseeing and photo-op stops. One vehicle, a wagon, was still being driven as a family car as late as 1996. Stopping this weekend in Santa Barbara for the U.S. owners club meeting, Frank said the tour won’t be done until they reach the Route 66 “end of the trail” sign in Santa Monica.


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