Gavin Watson 2013


Racing reports
2010 Season
2011 Season
2013 Season


Gavin's twin carb setup showing the inlet manifold


Silverstone National Circuit was our first race of 2013 after a prolonged and frustrating winter. The last race we did in 2012 was Goodwood where my celebrity driver over- revved the engine which resulted in a bent crankshaft and a spun big end bearing.

The "frustrating winter" can really be condensed down into trying to find out why our rebuilt engine which produced 125 bhp on the engine dyno didn't translate into on track performance. And the short answer to that would be the old adage that you've got to get the air in and the exhaust out! All very obvious in hindsight and a lot of "told you so's" -all of whom omitted to doing any telling until the answer had been revealed to them!!

So many trips to rolling roads; timed acceleration runs on the A27 essentially resulted in a 4" pipe ducting cold air to the carburettor, the bonnet being raised at the back and a new exhaust system and some 87 bhp at the wheels.

Practice quickly revealed that although the Borgward was going better than ever our enemies had made strides as well. Notably the Sunbeam Rapiers and Hillman Minx which both have the same engine, Holbay tuned in period and now developed even further. The Hillman Minx with 105 bhp at the wheels! So we qualified 3rd out of seven in class and 16th out of 28 overall but some 2 seconds plus off our class competitors!This is sounding familiar and somehow I'm sure I've read this all before and now I know where. Bill Blydenstein was alluding to these same cars some 50 years ago and this very same situation in a race at Silverstone in which Reg Parnell drove an Isabella and won but in order to do this Borgward had fitted a "very special engine" with a cross-flow cylinder head. That's the one I've been looking for!

For 43 minutes of the 45 minute race the Borgward was going really well, we had gained a few places. As I came onto the pit straight about to complete lap 31, the clutch pedal went to the floor. I didn't know what was broken, I couldn't move the gear stick and I wasn't about to force it. The last time I did that in a race, in a Porsche RSR the clutch exploded and come out through the bell housing! So I coasted into the pits literally with two laps to the end. The good news, it turned out to be the roll pin on the clutch lever arm had sheared and thereafter the slave cylinder had popped out. In fact one end had sheared many years ago. It now has an aircraft quality bolt.

We did have another issue over the weekend which was to re-surface in different forms over the course of the season; a leaking water pump. I don't know how many times this has been rebuilt but it's definitely more than once! Bloody things. K seal cured it completely on this occasion but "water" issues were to be a recurring theme through the season.

Here's two things you need to know if you are going to race a Borgward Isabella.

If something is not 100% right, whatever it is needs to be fixed, because it will break!
If anything isn't F.T, it will fall off!

Next episode Oulton Park…………….

Regards, Gavin

Liz Watson email address

Liz Watson with Patrick Mollard and Willie Johaentges Essen August 2013

To be continued………………………………………


Racing reports
2010 Season
2011 Season
2013 Season