BMW Museum – Munich (D)

BMW has had its own museum, in Munich, on one edge of the vast manufacturing complex that is still in the western part of the city and near to the OlympiaPark since 1973. It has been a popular attraction all that time, with many combining a visit with the chance to tour some of the production facilities (bookable separately) or to collect their new car directly from the plant. In 2004 it was closed for a major refurbishment, which took 4 long years, with the museum reflecting more contemporary display thinking in its new twentyfirst century guise. The new look has maintained the appeal for visitors, and with over 250,000 of them a year, it is one of the most popular attractions in the city. I last went to the museum in 2008, and enjoyed learning about the history of BMW as I meandered around the exhibits. That day was also the first time I met my friend and keen car enthusiast, Christian Wimmer, who lives in the city. I’ve seen him many times since then, on fairly regular visits to Munich, but had not been back to the Museum, as his feedback had always been that very little had changed. However, the chance to pay another visit came in January 2018 when I was in the city for one of my best friend’s Stag Weekend. There was a gap in the schedule on the Sunday afternoon, so all the car enthusiasts in that group made the trip across the city to take a look. And here is what we found.

First exhibit in the museum is literally a load of balls. These wire-suspended orbs constantly rearrange themselves into abstract patterns, occasionally taking the shape of an aerofoil or a car silhouette. It’s oddly mesmerising.

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After seeing this, it was on to more recognisable BMW products. The museum is arranged over multiple floors, Entrance is at the top of the building, and the tour takes the visitor into a series of display rooms, gradually working you way down to the ground floor. There are plenty of views of part of the lower floor exhibits, and I was lucky that on the time we visited, the museum was fairly quiet, so I could get photos from this unusual vantage point that were not overloaded with people.


The BMW 3/15 was BMW’s first car, produced in its first version as a “Dixi” between 1927 and 1929 and then, following BMW’s acquisition of the Dixi business in October 1928, in three subsequent versions as BMWs from July 1929 till March 1932, when BMW gave up the licence under which the Austin designed cars were produced. In 1927, Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach, which manufactured automobiles under the Dixi marque, entered a contract with the Austin Motor Company to manufacture the Austin Seven under licence. The first fifty Eisenach-built Sevens were right-hand-drive cars assembled in September 1927 from parts provided by Austin’s factory in Longbridge. By December 1927, Dixi had begun building their version of the Seven, the left-hand-drive Dixi 3/15 PS DA-1, built from parts made by Dixi. The 3/15 designation was derived from a taxable horsepower rating of 3 PS with an actual power output of approximately 15 PS (11 kW; 15 hp) The DA-1 designation stood for Erste Deutsche Ausführung (First German Version). The main differences between the BMW Dixi 3/15 DA-1 and the contemporary Austin Seven were the addition of Bosch shock absorbers, the placement of the driver’s controls on the left side of the vehicle, and the use of metric fasteners. BMW bought Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach from parent company Gothaer Waggonfabrik in October 1928. As a result, the Dixi 3/15 PS DA-1, when upgraded for 1929 became the BMW Dixi 3/15 DA-2 or, increasingly, simply as the BMW 3/15 DA-2. The 3/15 DA-2 replaced the DA-1 in April 1929. The main change from the DA-1 was the operation of the foot brakes, controlled via cable linkage, now acting on all four wheels: brakes on the DA-1 had operated only the rear wheels. Other changes included larger tyres and a lower final drive ratio. There was no change in either the size or the claimed output and performance from the car’s four cylinder four-stroke side-valve engine. Available body styles included a steel-bodied two-door saloon, a two-seat convertible, and a delivery van. 9,307 Dixi 3/15s were manufactured between 1927 and 1929, which was almost as many cars as all the earlier Dixi models together. 18,976 BMW 3/15s were manufactured between 1929 and 1932.

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The next room on the tour contained a series of engines. These were very varied, and no, they were not from recent production. but a fascinating collection of pre-war engines which were used to power a variety of machines, ranging from motor bikes to airplanes.

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The BMW 132 was a nine-cylinder radial aircraft engine produced by BMW starting in 1933. BMW took over a license for manufacturing air-cooled radial engines from Pratt & Whitney on 3 January 1928. The nine-cylinder model Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet was initially manufactured virtually unchanged under the designation BMW Hornet. Soon BMW embarked on its own development. The result was the BMW 132, essentially an improved version of the Hornet engine, that went into production in 1933. A number of different versions were built; aside from the carburettor designs used mainly in civilian aircraft, versions with direct fuel injection were manufactured for the German Luftwaffe. The engines had a displacement of 27.7 litre and generated up to 960 PS (950 hp) depending on model. The 132 found widespread use in the transport role, remaining the primary powerplant of the Junkers Ju 52 for much of its life, turning the BMW 132 into one of the most important aircraft engines for civilian aircraft during the 1930s. Numerous pioneering flights were undertaken with the BMW 132. The most impressive was the first direct flight from Berlin to New York in a four-engined Focke-Wulf 200 S-1 Condor. It covered the distance to New York in 24 hours and 57 minutes on 10 August 1938.

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This comes from the Avadro Ar 234 Blitz of 1944, the world’s first operational jet-powered bomber, built by the German Arado company in the closing stages of World War II. Produced in limited numbers it was used almost entirely in the reconnaissance role. In its few uses as a bomber it proved to be nearly impossible to intercept. It was the last Luftwaffe aircraft to fly over the UK during the war, in April 1945. There is only survivor from the 214 that were built.

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Although BMW have produced engines in a vast number of different capacities over the years, there have been surprisingly few different basic designs. All underwent significant development since their first appearance.

The BMW M78 is an overhead valve straight-six petrol engine which was produced from 1933 to 1950. It is the first straight-6 automobile engine produced by BMW, an engine layout which been a key feature of the brand for many years since. The M78 was launched in the 1933 BMW 303 and was then used in the 315 and 319, as well as 320, 236 and 327 cars. In 1936, the higher performance BMW M328 straight-six engine began to be produced alongside the M78.

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The BMW M30 is a SOHC straight-six petrol engine which was produced from 1968 to 1995. With a production run of 23 years, it is BMW’s longest produced engine and was used in many car models. The first models to use the M30 engine were the BMW 2500 and 2800 sedans. The initial M30 models were produced in displacements of 2,494–2,986 cc with later versions having displacements of up to 3,430 cc As per the BMW M10 four-cylinder engine from which the M30 was developed, the M30 has an iron block, an aluminium head and an overhead camshaft with two valves per cylinder. The engine was given the nicknames of ‘Big Six’ and ‘Senior Six’, following the introduction of the smaller BMW M20 straight-six engine in the late 1970s. The M30 was produced alongside the M20 throughout the M20’s production, and prior to the introduction of the BMW M70 V12 engine in 1987, the M30 was BMW’s most powerful and largest regular production engine. Following the introduction of the BMW M50 engine in 1990, the M30 began to be phased out.

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The BMW M20 is a SOHC straight-six petrol engine which was produced from 1977 to 1993. It was introduced eight years after the larger BMW M30 straight-six engine, which remained in production alongside the M20. The first cars to use the M20 were the E12 5 Series and the E21 3 Series. The initial M20 model had a displacement of 1990cc with later versions having displacements of up to 2.7 litres. The M20 began to be phased out following the introduction of the M50 engine in 1990. The final M20 engines were fitted to the E30 3 Series wagon (estate) and convertible model built in April 1993. The M20 was the basis for the BMW M21 diesel engine. It is also loosely related to the BMW M70 V12 petrol engine.

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The BMW M50 is a straight-6 DOHC petrol engine which was produced from 1990 to 1996. It was released in the E34 520i and 525i, to replace the M20 engine. In September 1992, the M50 was upgraded to the M50TU (“technical update”), which was BMW’s first engine to use variable valve timing. Called single VANOS by BMW, the system adjusted the phasing of the intake camshaft. The M50 began to be phased out following the introduction of the M52 engine in 1994. The E36 M3 is powered by the S50 engine series, which is a high output version of the M50.

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The BMW N52 is a naturally aspirated straight-six petrol engine which was produced from 2004-2015. The N52 replaced the BMW M54 and debuted on the E90 3 Series and E63 6 Series. The N52 was the first water-cooled engine to use magnesium/aluminium composite construction in the engine block. It was also listed as one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines in 2006 and 2007. In European markets, the N52 began to be phased out following the release of the BMW N53 in 2007. However, in markets such as the United States, Canada, Australia and Malaysia, the N53 was deemed unsuitable due to the high levels of sulphur in the fuel. From the year 2011, the N52 began to be replaced by the BMW N20 turbocharged four-cylinder engine until production of the N52 finished in 2015. Unlike its predecessors, there is no BMW M version of the N52.

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Following the engines, you get to a collection of historic BMW Motorbikes. BMW are still producing bikes, of course, but few perhaps realise that they have as rich a heritage in bikes as they do in cars.

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BMW’s motorcycle history began in 1921 when the company commenced manufacturing engines for other companies. BMW’s own motorcycles—sold under the BMW Motorrad brand—began in 1923 with the BMW R 32, which was powered by a flat-twin engine (also called a “boxer-twin” engine). Production of motorcycles with flat-twin engines continues to this day, however BMW has also produced many models with other types of engines.

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This one dates from 1931 and is RS2.

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Dating from 1937 is this WR500. Along with the WR750, this was a supercharged racing motorcycle from BMW with two-cylinder, four-stroke flat twin engine starting production in the year 1929. The idea to equip the flat twin engine with a supercharger came from the designer of the BMW R 37 race bike, Rudolf Schleicher. But after his departure from BMW, the concept was transferred to the racing mechanic Josef Hopf, closest confidant of Rudolf Schleicher, and the BMW works driver and German Champion of 1926 and 1927, Ernst Jakob Henne. The first engines ran on the test bench in 1928. The WR 500 and WR 750 could not break the dominance of the English brands in the international racing. Success came with the next generation of supercharged BMWs, with the Type 255, which went on the hunt for records and racing successes beginning in 1935.

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And this is one of those bikes, a 1938 RS255, also known as the BMW Type 255 Kompressor, a supercharged boxer twin race motorcycle from the 1930s. A BMW 255 Kompressor was ridden to victory by Georg Meier in the 1939 Isle of Man TT and the first win by a non-British competitor in the premier 500cc Senior TT class. A similar BMW 255 Kompressor machine was auctioned in 2013 for US$480,000, the second-highest price ever paid at auction for a motorcycle at the time.

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This is an R75 R/T. The model range was entirely revamped in 1969 with the introduction of the BMW /5 range, consisting of the 500 cc BMW R 50/5, the 600 cc BMW R 60/5 and the 750 cc BMW R 75/5 models. The engines were a complete redesign, with the crankshaft bearings upgraded from roller bearings to shell-type journal bearings (the type used in modern car engines). The camshaft was now chain-driven camshaft and located underneath the crankshaft instead of at the top of the engine, in order to lower the centre of gravity. An electric starter was available for the first time, although the traditional gearbox-mounted kick starter was also retained. The styling of the first models included chrome-plated side panels and a restyled tank. In 1973, the rear swingarm was lengthened, which improved the handling and allowed a larger battery to be installed. The introduction of the “/5” models coincided with production relocating from Munich to a new factory in Spandau, West Berlin. at a site earlier occupied by a Siemens aircraft engine factory. The BMW /6 range replaced the “/5” models in 1974, with the 500 cc engine being discontinued and a 900 cc engine introduced.

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The BMW R 80 G/S was made from 1980 to 1987. Production totalled 21,864 bikes. It was the first in the BMW GS family of specialised dual-sport bikes, of which over 500,000 have been produced,[1] and is often considered the world’s first “Adventure Bike” able to be equally as capable both on and off-road. The designation G/S stands for the German words Gelände/Straße, which mean offroad/road – highlighting the bike’s dual sport design. It was the first large displacement multisport bike on the market. The G/S was fitted with a 797.5 cc BMW type 247 engine, which is a flat-twin (boxer) sometimes known as an airhead. The engine, which was fitted into an R65 frame, was a modified version of that fitted to the R 80/7, featuring Nikasil cylinders, electronic ignition and a lighter flywheel. At the rear the bike had the new “monolever,” a combined single-sided swingarm and drive shaft, with the rear damping provided by a single shock absorber. The monolever was stiffer and lighter than the design fitted to previous models, and was subsequently fitted to other BMW motorcycles. It was a sealed suspension lever with the driveline inside the lever filled with oil to lubricate the shaft and parts. The single sided swing arm enabled the rear wheel to be removed easily with the bike on the centre stand. It differs from other BMW road bikes of the same era due to its lighter weight, longer suspension travel, and large 21 inch front wheel. The bike gained popularity with adventure-seeking travellers after having won the Paris-Dakar ralley several times. BMW offered numerous optional parts including a 32-litre fuel tank with Gaston Rahier’s signature, a solo seat, stainless exhaust and a larger battery meaning that for the first time a true adventure travel motorcycle could be purchased directly from a manufacturer. The market it created spawned many aftermarket motorcycle accessories, such as larger fuel tanks and panniers. The R 80 G/S was developed for BMW by engineer Rüdiger Gutsche, a successful competitor in the International Six Days Trial on his specially adapted R75/5. In 1981, Hubert Auriol, riding a R 8 G/S prepared by German company HPN Motorradtechnik, won the Paris-Dakar Rally. He repeated his success on an 870 cc version of the R 80 G/S in 1983. Gaston Rahier won the Dakar on a R 80 G/S in 1984, and then again on a larger 1,000 cc engined R 80 G/S in 1985. To commemorate their success, BMW launched the R 80 G/S Paris-Dakar special edition which featured a 7 gallon fuel tank, fitted with dual petcocks and signed by Gaston Rahier. In 1986, the R 80 G/S was joined by the R 100 GS, which had a larger capacity 980 cc engine and an updated suspension and drive unit called a Paralever. In 1987, production of the R 80 G/S ended and was succeeded by the 650 cc R 65 GS, which used the same monolever suspension and drive, and the R 80 GS, which retained the G/S engine but used the newer Paralever drive.

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And this one is an F650 RR. The BMW F650 is a family of motorcycles developed by BMW Motorrad beginning in 1993. Models included the F650St Strada and from 1994, the F650 (dubbed the ‘Funduro’) which, due to some subtle differences, was considered to be a more dual/multi purpose motorcycle with some off-road capability. The 1993 – 2000 F650 was the first single-cylinder motorcycle from BMW since the 1960–1966 R27, and the first chain driven motorcycles from BMW. Newer models (post-2000) included the F650CS Scarver, F650GS, and F650GS Dakar.

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Not hard to recognise, this is a 3 series (E92) “body in white”.

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A bit later in the tour, I would come across this clay version of the car’s successor, the F30 generation 3 Series.

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And very different from these were the two distinct special versions of the sporting 328 of the late 1930s. The 328 was introduced at the Eifelrennen race at the Nürburgring in 1936, where Ernst Henne drove it to win the 2.0-litre class. The 328 had more than 100 class wins in 1937, including the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Österreichische Alpenfahrt, and the La Turbie hillclimb. In 1938, the 328 won its class at the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Alpine Rally, and the Mille Miglia. The 328 won the RAC Rally in 1939 and came in fifth overall and first in class in the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans. Frank Pratt won the 1948 Australian Grand Prix driving a 328. In 1938, BMW 328 became a class winner in Mille Miglia. In 1940, the Mille Miglia Touring Coupe won the Mille Miglia with an average speed of 166.7 km/h (103.6 mph).

Seen here is that Mille Miglia Touring Coupe. Touring famously had no wind tunnel to test its aerodynamic designs at scale, all it had was intuition and extremely daring racing drivers, namely Prince Max zu Schaumburg-Lippe. He commissioned the Superleggera design by Carrozeria Touring after being unable to secure a full car from BMW’s racing department. The Touring Coupé lined up for its debut race at Le Mans on 17 June 1939 with Prince Schaumburg and BMW engineer Hans Wencher entrusted with the driving duties. After 24 hours and 1,980 miles (3,188 kilometres), the pairing emerged triumphant in the 2-litre class with a sensational average speed of 82 mph (132.8 km/h). They even managed an outstanding fifth position in the overall classification, getting the better of much larger-engined cars along the way. Spring 1940. In Italy all attentions are focused on bringing the Mille Miglia back to life. The legendary race had last been run over the historic course in 1938. However, after a rash of accidents it had been temporarily suspended. Now, two years later, the Mille Miglia was back in business, but the original route had been dropped in favour of a 103-mile (167 km) triangular course between Brescia, Cremona and Mantua. The drivers would complete nine laps of the new circuit, a move warmly welcomed by the watching pubic, who only saw the cars fly by once when the race followed its original route. The new route was not as spectacular, though. It followed well-surfaced roads through flat countryside and included a lot of long straight sections which were expected to lead to high average speeds. In a nod to tradition, the race was once again billed the 1st Gran Premio Brescia delle Mille Miglia. Planning for the German entry got under way with military precision in March 1940. BMW racing boss Ernst Loof travelled to Italy with a group of drivers, the two Coupés and a single Roadster to familiarise themselves with the route, work out a race strategy and organise the building of their garage. Working according to average fuel consumption of 11.76 U.S. mpg (20 litres per 100 km), the course was split into three 310 mile (500 km) sections. On this basis, the ideal location for a garage turned out to be Castiglione, some 15 miles (25 km) outside Brescia. This would be the topping-up point for fuel and oil, and Loof could take the opportunity to pass on any necessary instructions to his drivers here. In the final three days before the race the drivers gathered with their cars for technical inspection at the Piazza della Vittoria in the centre of Brescia. Among them were the five German BMWs with their silver paintwork. The starting field was dominated in traditional fashion by the red cars of the local contenders. Seventy Italian driver teams would line up for the race in FIATs, Lancias and Alfa Romeos. They would be joined by two blue cars from French manufacturer Delage, also with Italian drivers at the wheel. The members of the NSKK team were entered to drive the three streamlined Roadsters, having represented Germany with great success in races abroad over the previous two years. Car number 71, the first streamlined Roadster, was piloted by Hans Wencher and Rudolf Scholz, the two other Roadsters – car numbers 72 and 74 – were crewed by Willi Briem/Uli Richter and Adolph Brudes/Ralph Roese respectively. The three teams were under instructions not to push too hard, but to maintain a good speed and look after their machinery. Although the aim was to finish as high up the standings as possible, the main priority was to complete the race and win the team prize. The two Coupés, meanwhile, were entered by the ONS (the highest-ranking national sports authority in Germany at the time). Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Bäumer would drive the Touring Coupé, while two outstanding Italian drivers – Count Giovanni Lurani Cernuschi and Franco Cortese – had been recruited to pilot the works Kamm Coupé. While the target for these two Coupés was overall victory, tradition suggested that the Alfa Romeo team was a far more likely winner. BMW’s Italian driver pairing were certainly in with a chance, though, the Kamm Coupé having displayed superior handling in testing and reached much higher speeds than the Touring Coupé. The cars are sent on their way at one-minute intervals. Von Hanstein/Bäumer – in the first BMW – entered the fray at 6.40 a.m., followed by their team-mates and the Italian drivers in the largest-capacity class. The youngster von Hanstein set out his stall from the off, covering the first lap at a speed nobody present had thought possible. Already, the gap between the BMW driver and his closest pursuer in a Delage was one and a half minutes. Lurani/Cortese, meanwhile, were lying third in the second BMW Coupé, followed by one of the highly fancied Alfa Romeos. The three Roadsters were biding their time in seventh, eighth and ninth positions. On the second lap the two BMW Coupés led the way, with the Italians locked in a battle with the charging streamlined Roadsters. However, the Kamm Coupé could not keep up such a breakneck pace for long. It was hit by problems first with the carburettor, then with the oil supply, and on lap 7 the hugely disappointed driver pairing were forced to retire from the race. The Touring Coupé, meanwhile, was continuing to reel off the fast laps undeterred. Indeed, von Hanstein set the fastest time ever recorded in a sports car race with an average speed of 108 mph (174 km/h). However, there was the odd difference of opinion between von Hanstein and his co-driver Bäumer, as the ambitious baron was determined to win the race and ignored the pre-arranged driver changeover. In the end, Bäumer had to be persuaded to settle for the role of co-driver in order to make sure of the win. The Coupé was gradually building up an unassailable advantage over the chasing pack, though, and the two men finally swapped seats a few kilometres from the finish. In the end, it was Walter Bäumer who had the privilege of driving the Touring Coupé across the line to claim overall victory. Unsurprisingly, celebrations were decidedly muted among the Italian crowd. Instead, the packed stands were immersed in a collective sense of bewilderment. What had happened to the red cars? Over 15 minutes passed before the Alfa Romeo of Farina/Mambelli came home in second place, followed by Brudes/Roese in third, Biondetti/Stefani in fourth, Briem/Richter in fifth and Wencher/Scholz in sixth place. BMW had topped both the team and overall standings, and great shows of excitement awaited the crew on their return to Munich.

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With Bernie Ecclestone at the books, Gordon Murray at the drawing board and Nelson Piquet at the wheel, the turbocharged Brabham BT52 swept all before it to take the 1983 F1 title. This was the ‘grenade engine’ era – with the boost of the scale, the 1.5-litre BMW four-cylinder motor developed as much as 850bhp in qualifying trim. Race engines mustered ‘only’ 640bhp or thereabouts, to make sure they went the distance.

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THE 1970s

During the 1970s, the modern BMW started to emerge. Successive new models were branded a Series, starting with the E12 generation 5 Series of 1972, and by 1977 there were 4 models in the range: the 3.5, 6 and 7, with a clear styling link between them. There was an example of each of these, in a spectacular display that ran from floor to ceiling.

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This display hall contained a line of cars showing the evolution of what has undoubtedly been BMW’s commercially most significant car line ever, the 3 Series. It was when sales of this model took off that BMW was able to build the foundations of the modern company with the financial strength that has allowed to transform from the ranks of the specialist to the volume brands.

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The story starts with this car, which, of course, is not actually a 3 Series at all, the 1600 Coupe of 1966. The 1600-2, as the first “02 Series” BMW was designated, was an entry-level BMW, and was smaller, less expensive, and less well-appointed than the New Class Sedan on which it was based. BMW’s design director Wilhelm Hofmeister assigned the two-door project to staff designers Georg Bertram and Manfred Rennen. The 9.1 in shorter length and wheelbase and lighter weight of the two-door sedan made it more suitable than the original New Class sedan for sporting applications. As a result, the two door sedan became the basis of the sporting 02 Series. The 1600-2 (the “-2” meaning “2-door”) made its debut at the Geneva Show in March 1966 and was sold until 1975, with the designation being simplified to “1602” in 1971. The 1.6 litre M10 engine produced 84 hp at 5,700 rpm and 96 lb·ft. A high performance version, the 1600 TI, was introduced in September 1967. With a compression ratio of 9.5:1 and the dual Solex PHH side-draft carburettor system from the 1800 TI, the 1600 TI produced 110 hp at 6,000 rpm. Also introduced in September 1967 was a limited-production cabriolet, which would be produced by Baur from 1967 through 1971. A hatchback 1600 Touring model was introduced in 1971 but was discontinued in 1972.

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The 3 Series proper came with the E21 generation car, first seen in 1975. Most E21s were sold as 2-door compact sedans, however a Baur cabriolet was also available. Under the direction of its 51% percent shareholder, Herbert Quandt, BMW decided upon a replacement for their aging 02 Series. Paul Bracq, Director of Design at BMW from 1970 to 1974, is credited with setting the design direction of the E21. In July 1975, BMW’s Board of Management first presented this new model series in the Munich Olympic Stadium for public appraisal. The frontal view of the new car was dominated by the BMW trademark kidney grille standing out clearly from the radiator cover. The styling of the new car bore a resemblance to the BMW E12 5 Series. The wedge shape of the two-door model was distinctive, extending all the way to the unusually high rear end. In response to criticism of the tail design, a black plastic trim panel between the tail lights was added.[citation needed] Like many other BMW models, the C-pillar of the E21 features a Hofmeister kink. The cockpit design of the E21 marked the introduction of a new design concept, with the centre console and central dashboard area angled towards the driver. This feature has become part of BMW’s interior design philosophy for many years. As a sign of passive safety, all edges and control elements within the interior were rounded off and padded. The suspension incorporated rack and pinion steering and MacPherson strut suspension at the front, and semi-trailing arm type independent suspension at the rear. The rear suspension design causes camber changes, which can introduce “snap oversteer” at the handling limits, and the car was castigated repeatedly for this (now, of course, the press would shout in joy about such an attribute! The power assisted brakes were discs on the front wheels, while the rear wheels had drum brakes. Initially, a Getrag four-speed manual was the standard transmission fitment. Five-speed overdrive Getrag gearboxes were fitted as standard in 1980, but close ratio ‘sport’ gearboxes were available at the car’s release as an option. Alternatively, purchasers could opt for the ZF 3 HP-22 three-speed automatic transmission. At the E21’s release, three models were available: with 316 (1.6-litre), 318 (1.8-litre) and 320 (2.0-litre) versions of the BMW M10 4-cylinder engine. To differentiate between models, the 320 model came with dual headlights, while the 316 and 318 had single headlights. The fuel-injected 320i was introduced at the end of 1975. It featured the M10 4-cylinder engine with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, and a limited slip differential was available as an option. At the 1977 International Auto Show in Frankfurt, BMW unveiled its new variants of the E21, featuring the new straight-6 M20 engines (which were initially called “M60”). BMW had invested DM 110 million the M20 engine series. The 4-cylinder 320 model was replaced with the 320/6, featuring a 2.0 version of the M20 engine. The 323i model was introduced, featuring 2.3 litre with 141 hp, which gave the 323i a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph). The braking system was also upgraded, with the 323i featuring disc brakes on all wheels. Options include power steering, a 5-speed close-ratio ‘dogleg’ sport gearbox, and 25% limited slip differential. For the 1980 model year, the four-cylinder models were upgraded: the 1.8 litre carburetted M10 unit was revised to produce 89 hp and entered the market in the updated 316, while a fuel-injected version of the 1.8 litre M10 was introduced in the 318i model (which replaced the carburetted 318 as the mid-range model). The 320is model (USA only) was released in 1980 using a 1.8 litre version of the M10. The “S Package” featured Recaro sport seats, a modified dash with no air conditioning (A/C could be added by the dealer), upgraded suspension components that included a rear anti-roll bar and a larger front anti-roll bar, a 5-speed transmission and limited-slip differential, cross-spoke alloy wheels, an upgraded tool kit, a dual operation manual sunroof, an AM/FM Blaupunkt radio with cassette player, fog lights, a 3-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather shift knob, a front air dam, a “delete” of the alphanumeric 320i markers on the rear boot lid and a limited colour palate of white, silver or black. Just 2,500 320is’s were produced. In 1981, the economy model 315 was introduced as a reaction to the second “oil crisis” in late 1979. More spartan than the other E21 models, it was the last E21 to be built and shared production with the E30. Seen here was a 323i.

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The BMW E30 is the second generation of BMW 3 Series, which was produced from 1982 to 1994 and replaced the E21 3 Series, and was the car which really saw the popularity of the 3 Series increase dramatically. . Development of the E30 3 Series began in July 1976, with styling being developed under chief designer Claus Luthe with exterior styling led by Boyke Boyer. In 1978, the final design was approved, with design freeze (cubing process) being completed in 1979. BMW’s launch film for the E30 shows the design process including Computer-aided design (CAD), crash testing and wind-tunnel testing. The car was released at the end of November 1982. Externally, the E30’s appearance is very similar to twin headlight versions of its E21 predecessor, however there are various detail changes in styling to the E30. Major differences to the E21 include the interior and a revised suspension, the latter to reduce the oversteer for which the E21 was criticised. At launch, the car had a 2 door style like its predecessor and just four engines, all of them petrol: the 316 and 318 four cylinder units and the 320 and 323i 6 cylinders. This last was soon upgraded to a 2.5 litre unit. Diesel models were added during the 80s and there was an all-wheel drive 325iX option for continental European markets. In addition to the 2 door saloon and Baur convertible body styles of its E21 predecessors, the E30 became available by early 1984 as a four-door sedan and later a five-door station wagon (marketed as “Touring”). The Touring body style began life as a prototype built by BMW engineer Max Reisböck in his friend’s garage in 1984 and began production in 1987. The factory convertible version began production in 1985, with the Baur convertible conversions remaining available alongside it. Following the launch of the E36 3 Series in 1990, the E30 began to be phased out. Seen here were 325i Cabriolet and Touring cars.

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Representing the E36, the third generation, was this 328i Coupe. Development of the E36 began in 1981 and the exterior design was heavily influenced by aerodynamics, specifically the overall wedge shape, headlight covers and smaller wing mirrors. The lead designers were Pinky Lai and Boyke Boyer. The production version of the E36 was launched in October 1990, with press release in November and market launch in early 1991. The initial models were of the four-door sedan body style, and these were soon followed by the coupe, convertible and Touring, to replace their equivalent E30 generation cars. The early models had a mixed reception, with many feeling that the build quality was not as good as previously and the grey plastic bumpers drew particular criticism, but BMW steadily evolved the car to make among the best available in its class and sales rocketed still further beyond E30 levels. The number of engines offered during the model’s life was greater than ever before, and this was the first 3 Series to be available with a six-speed manual transmission (in the 1996 M3), a five-speed automatic transmission and a four-cylinder diesel engine. The multi-link rear suspension was also a significant upgrade as compared to the previous generations of the 3 Series. All-wheel drive was not available for the E36, unlike the previous (E30) and successive (E46) generations. Following the introduction of its successor, the E46 3 Series in 1998, the E36 began to be phased out and was eventually replaced in 1999.

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Last model to join the E36 family was the 3 Series Compact. Launched in 1994, the E36 3 Series Compact (model code E36/5), was BMW’s first hatchback since the 2002 Touring model was discontinued in 1974. From the front bumper to the A-pillar, the E36/5 is identical to the E36 saloon. From the A-pillar rearwards, the E36/5 is unique from others in the E36 range. Although the overall length of the E36/5 is approximately 200 millimetres (7.9 in) shorter than the rest of the E36 3 Series range, the length of the wheelbase is the same. A large sunroof, covered by a folding canvas roof was available from mid-1995. This model was known as either the California Top Edition or the Open Air Edition. In September 1996 (model year 1997), the 3 Series compact received a facelift. Changes included revised tail-lights, grille, bumpers and mirrors. Not all the engines from the rest of the 3 Series were offered in the Compact, in keeping with its market positioning as an entry level car. The initial 316 and 318ti petrols were joined by a 318 tds and the 323i a couple of years after launch. The front suspension uses the E36’s MacPherson strut design, while the rear suspension uses a semi-trailing arm from the previous generation E30 models (instead of the Z-Axle multi-link suspension used by the rest of the E36 range). This rear suspension arrangement – which is also used on the Z3 – is more compact and cheaper to produce. Some reviewers believe that this arrangement causes the E36/5’s handling to be prone to oversteer. The interior is mostly similar to the E36 saloon models, apart from the folding rear seats and dashboard which shares some elements with the previous generation E30 3 Series. The car was successful and 371,498 were sold until the car was replaced by an E46-based version.

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Representing the fourth generation range, the E46 was this 323i. The development programme for the E46 began in 1993 under chief engineer Wolfgang Ziebart and head of R&D Wolfgang Reitzle. In late 1993, design work began under chief designer Chris Bangle and continued into 1995. In May 1995, the general exterior design of the E46 by Erik Goplen of DesignworksUSA was approved and as a result DesignworksUSA was contracted by BMW to work alongside BMW Group’s in-house design team to create the exterior bodywork for the 3 Series range in February 1996. The design team put an emphasis on improving aerodynamics and increasing the car’s aggressive stance. Design patents were filed in Germany on 16 July 1997 and in the US on 16 January 1998. Chris Bangle and Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle (BMW Head of R&D) were responsible through 1995 for the production sedan’s exterior, as evident in the 1997 design patent. Production development of the sedan took 24 months following design freeze and was 31 months from executive board styling approval in 1995 to its start of series production in December 1997. Erik Goplen designed the production coupé, convertible and station wagon during 1996–1997. The E46 sedan was unveiled via press release on 11 November 1997 and was launched on the market at the end of April 1998. The range was gradually built up, with the four door saloon being the first model to be seen, and with a limited range of engines, and over the following months, the 2 door coupe, convertible, Touring and a 3 door hatch Compact were added, and the engine range was widened. All-wheel drive, which was last available in the 3 Series in 1991, was reintroduced for the E46 on the 325xi, 330xi and 330xd models. The E46 was the first 3 Series to be available with an engine using Valvetronic (variable valve lift). Various electronic features were also introduced to the 3 Series in the E46 generation, including satellite navigation, electronic brake-force distribution, rain-sensing wipers and LED tail-lights. The E46 M3 is powered by the BMW S54 inline-six engine with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed SMG-II automated manual transmission. The M3 was introduced in late 2000 and was produced in coupé and convertible body styles only. There was a steady program of evolution through the model’s life. Sales were strong. The best year was 2002 when over 560,000 were sold worldwide. Following the introduction of the E90 3 Series sedans in late 2004, the E46 began to be phased out. However the E46 coupé and convertible body styles remained in production until August 2006.

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The fourth generation car was widely praised for its elegance, and with Bangle’s transformation of the BMW look well underway, many feared what the fifth generation car would looks like. The result was a car that was far less controversial than his other designs, as seen when the first images of the E90 appeared online in 2004. The sedan model was the first model sold of the E90/E91/E92/E93 3 series, being launched on 5 March 2005.The E91 wagon/estate models were marketed as ‘Touring’ in Europe and ‘Sports Wagon’ in the North America. Optional equipment included a panoramic sunroof, which extends to the rear passenger area. Trim levels typically were similar to the E90 sedan, however the M3 wasn’t produced in the wagon body style. Several markets outside Europe only offered a small subset of models in the wagon body style. In the United States and Canada, the only wagon model available prior to 2007 was the 325xi,[15] and then the 328i and 328xi from 2007 onwards. In August 2006, one year after the sedan was introduced, the E92 coupé body style was unveiled. Compared with previous generations of the 3 Series, the coupé has more external styling differences to the sedan models. These include the tail-light design (L-shaped on the coupe), more steeply angled headlights and smaller side windows. As per its E46 predecessor, the doors of the coupe are longer and have frameless door windows, the rear seat holds two passengers (compared with a three-person bench for the sedan) with a rear centre console tray and the front seatbelts are on motorised arms that extend from the B-pillar to hand the seatbelts to the driver and/or passenger. The E92 was the last generation to include coupé (and convertible) body styles as a part of the 3 Series range. For later generations, these body styles are marketed as the 4 Series. Despite the E90/E91 being phased out for the F30/F31 after the 2011 model year, the E92/E93 continued through the 2013 model year. It was then succeeded by the F32/F33 for the 2014 model year. The E93 convertible was BMW’s first model to use a retractable hardtop (folding metal roof), instead of the cloth roof as previously used. The E93 was one of first retractable hardtops in its price range. The “Comfort Access” option allows the roof to be raised and lowered using the key fob. The E93’s side windows are 30 percent larger than its E46 convertible predecessor, resulting in a 38 percent increase in visibility. The BMW 3 Series convertible was often priced higher than direct rivals, however reviewers have praised its passenger/boot space (even with the roof down), driving dynamics, weight and chassis rigidity. The E9x was the first 3 Series sold with a turbocharged petrol engine.The E9x family also saw the introduction of run-flat tyres to the 3 Series range. Cars with run-flats are not equipped with a spare tyre. There was a bewlidering array of petrol and diesel engines offered during the models’ life. The E90/E92/E93 M3 is the only generation of M3 to be powered by a V8 engine. Introduced in 2007, it uses the BMW S65 naturally aspirated V8 engine and was produced in sedan, coupe and convertible body styles. A vast array of different Production continued until a facelift revision was made for the 2009 model year. Production of the E90 concluded after the 2011 model year, succeeded by the F30 for 2012. Total sales exceeded 3 million, proving that this is most definitely a volume car these days!

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This is a very striking display which I remembered from my last visit, with a collection of just some of the badges that have featured on the variety of BMW models over the last 40 years or so.

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BMWs OF THE 50s AND 60s

A number of other post-war BMWs are part of the permanent displays in the museum, each set in their own display with period artefacts surrounding them.

The Isetta is far more significant than many show-goers would realise, as without these cars, the modern BMW company simply would not exist. However, the car originated with the Italian firm of Iso SpA, and it is two of those models which were to be seen here. In the early 1950s the company was building refrigerators, motor scooters and small three-wheeled trucks. Iso’s owner, Renzo Rivolta, decided he would like to build a small car for mass distribution. By 1952 the engineers Ermenegildo Preti and Pierluigi Raggi had designed a small car that used the motorcycle engine of the Iso Moto 200 and named it Isetta—an Italian diminutive meaning little ISO. The Isetta caused a sensation when it was introduced to the motoring press in Turin in November 1953, it was unlike anything seen before. Small (only 7.5 ft long by 4.5 ft wide) and egg-shaped, with bubble-type windows, the entire front end of the car hinged outwards to allow entry. In the event of a crash, the driver and passenger were to exit through the canvas sunroof. The steering wheel and instrument panel swung out with the single door, as this made access to the single bench seat simpler. The seat provided reasonable comfort for two occupants, and perhaps a small child. Behind the seat was a large parcel shelf with a spare wheel located below. A heater was optional, and ventilation was provided by opening the fabric sunroof. Power came from a 236 cc 9.5 hp split-single two-stroke motorcycle engine. The engine was started by a combination generator-starter known as Dynastart. A manual gearbox provided four forward speeds and reverse. A chain drive connected the gearbox to a solid rear axle with a pair of closely spaced 25 cm (10 in) rear wheels. The first prototypes had one wheel at the rear, but having a single rear wheel made the car prone to roll-overs,[citation needed] so the rear wheel layout was changed to two wheels set 19 in apart from each other. This narrow track eliminated the need for a differential. The front axle was a modified version of a Dubonnet independent front suspension. The Isetta took over 30 seconds to reach 50 km/h (31 mph) from rest. Top speed was only about 75 km/h (47 mph). The fuel tank held only 13 litres. However, the Isetta would get somewhere between 50 and 70 mpg depending on how it was driven. In 1954, Iso entered several Isettas in the legendary Mille Miglia where they took the top three spots in the economy classification. Over a distance of 1,600 km (1,000 mi) the drivers achieved an average speed of over 70 km/h (43 mph). In view of its maximum speed, which was just 15 km/h (9 mph) higher, this was an almost incredible figure. However, despite its initial success, the Isetta was beginning to slip in popularity at home. This was mainly due to renewed competition from Fiat with its 500C model. Renzo Rivolta wanted to concentrate on his new Iso Rivolta sports car, and was extremely interested in doing licensing deals. Plants in Spain and Belgium were already assembling Isettas and Autocarros using Italian made Iso components. BMW began talking with Rivolta in mid-1954 and bought not just a license but the complete Isetta body tooling as well. Rivolta did not stop with licensing the Isetta to BMW. He negotiated similar deals with companies in France and Brazil. After constructing some 1,000 units, production of the Italian built cars ceased in 1955, although Iso continued to build the Isetta in Spain until 1958. In addition to the Turismo, Iso in Spain also built the Autocarro, a commercial version with full-width rear axle. The Autocarro was offered in several body styles, a flatbed pickup, enclosed truck, a tilt-bed, or even a fire engine, although some of these might not have been sold. The Autocarro was an extremely popular type of vehicle in Italy, and numerous manufacturers produced some variant of the type. Iso had previously produced a motorcycle-type Isocarro. The Iso Autocarro was larger than most, with its four-wheel layout, conventional rear axle with differential and leaf springs, and a large tubular frame. It could carry a 500 kg load. It is thought that more than 4,000 Autocarros were built.

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Recognising the need to go upmarket a bit, BMW produced the 700, a small rear-engined car which was offered in various models from August 1959 to November 1965. It was the first BMW automobile with a monocoque structure. The 700 was a sales success at a time when BMW was close to financial ruin. The 700 was also successful in its class in motorsport, both in its stock form and as the basis of a racing special called the 700RS. Wolfgang Denzel, the distributor of BMW cars in Austria, commissioned Giovanni Michelotti to prepare concept sketches based on a lengthened BMW 600 chassis.In January 1958, Denzel was awarded a development contract for the 700. Denzel presented a prototype to BMW’s management in July 1958. The concept, a two-door coupé with a slanted roof, was generally well received, but objections were raised about the limited passenger space. BMW decided to produce two versions, the coupe, and a two-door sedan with a taller, longer roof. The engineer responsible for the chassis and suspension was Willy Black, who had designed and engineered the 600. The drivetrain and suspension were similar to those of the 600, with a rear-mounted flat-twin engine powering the rear wheels, leading arm suspension at the front, and semi trailing arm suspension at the rear. The 700 used a steel monocoque structure, and was the first BMW automobile to do so. The engine was an enlarged version of that used in the R67 motorcycle and the 600. With a bore of 78 mm and 73 mm of stroke, the engine displaced 697 cc. The engine originally used a single Solex 34PCI carburetor and had a compression ratio of 7.5:1, resulting in a power output of 30 bhp. The coupe and saloon versions of the 700 were shown at the 1959 Frankfurt Motor Show. After the show, BMW received 25,000 orders for 700s. Production of the BMW 700 Coupe began in August 1959, with the saloon version following in December. The large number of orders was welcome news for BMW, which was in a financial crisis. In December 1959, shareholders blocked a proposal by BMW’s supervisory board to merge BMW into Daimler-Benz. The subsequent heavy investment in BMW by Herbert Quandt has been attributed in part to the success of the 700. By April 1960, production of the 700 was at 155 cars per day. The first variant of the 700 to appear after the original coupé and saloon was the 700 Sport in August 1960. Available only as a coupé, the Sport used an uprated engine with a pair of Solex carburettors and a 9.0:1 compression ratio. This brought the power output to 40 PS. The Sport also had a rear anti-roll bar. A ribbed oil pan was used to reduce the oil temperature of the more powerful engine. The 700 Sport was renamed the 700 CS in 1963. The 700 Cabriolet was introduced shortly after the 700 Sport, and was available only with the Sport’s 40 bhp. The convertible body was made by Karosserie Baur of Stuttgart. 2,592 convertibles were built. A Saxomat semi-automatic transmission was offered as an option on 700s from September 1960. The 700 Luxus (deluxe) replaced the original saloon in 1962. A longer wheelbase variant, the LS, was also added, extending the wheelbase by 16 centimetres (6.3 in). In February 1963, the size of the inlet valves in the 700’s base engine was increased. This increased power to 32 PS. The final development of the 700 was the 700 LS Coupé of 1964. This was a long-wheelbase coupé with the Sport engine. 1,730 LS Coupés were built. Production of the BMW 700 ended in November 1965 and 188,211 BMW 700s had been built. By that time, the successful New Class cars had established themselves in the marketplace. High demand for these larger cars with larger profit margins led BMW to stop making economy cars.

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During the 1950s, the BMW line-up consisted of luxury cars with displacements of two litres or greater, economy cars powered by motorcycle engines, and motorcycles. With their luxury cars becoming increasingly outdated and unprofitable and their motorcycles and economy cars becoming less attractive to an increasingly affluent society, BMW needed a car in the 1.5 to 2 litre class to become competitive. Prototypes powered by a 1.6 L engine based on one bank of the BMW OHV V8 engine were built and evaluated without a convincing result. In 1960, Herbert and Harald Quandt invested heavily in BMW, and gained a controlling interest in the company.That year, the “Neue Klasse” project was begun. Led overall by Fritz Fiedler, the project had Eberhard Wolff in charge of chassis design, Wilhelm Hofmeister in charge of styling and body engineering, and Alex von Falkenhausen in charge of engine design. The team was to produce a new car with a new engine, which BMW had not done since the 303 in 1933. The prototype was introduced in September 1961 at the Frankfurt Motor Show as the BMW 1500 four-door saloon, alongside the BMW 3200 CS, the last BMW with the OHV V8. The term New Class referred to the 1.5–2–litre class from which BMW had been absent since World War II. Introduced in September 1961 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW 1500 entered regular production in October 1962 and was manufactured until December 1964. The M10 4-cylinder engine used oversquare dimensions of 82 mm bore and 71 mm stroke produced 80 hp in the BMW 1500. Contemporary reports praised the all-round visibility and the commanding driving position while recording that it was necessary to lean forward a little to engage first and third gears due to the long travel distance of the gear lever. The large 40 cm tall luggage compartment was also commended. The 1500 could accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in approximately 15 seconds. The performance was at the time considered lively in view of the engine size, and although the engine needed to be worked hard in order to achieve rapid progress, it ran smoothly even at speeds above 6,000 rpm. The firm suspension and correspondingly harsh ride surprised those conditioned by the BMW 501 to anticipate a more comfort-oriented suspension setup. Notable problems that developed with the 1500 included separation of the semi-trailing arm mounts from the body, rear axle failure, and gearbox problems. These were resolved in later versions of the New Class sedan. The 1500 was replaced in 1964 by the 1600, but it was still made available in markets where capacities greater than 1500 cc incurred higher tax rates. Introduced in September 1963, the BMW 1800 was the second member of the New Class family. This model had an M10 engine with a 84 mm bore and 80 mm stroke, giving a displacement of 1,773 cc. It produced 90 hp at 5,250 rpm and 130 N⋅m (96 lb⋅ft) at 3,000 rpm. The 1800 TI (Turismo Internazionale) model featured components developed for the 1800 by the tuning company Alpina. The upgrades included dual Solex PHH side-draft carburettors and higher-compression pistons for 110 hp at 5,800 rpm and 136 N⋅m (100 lb⋅ft) at 4,000 rpm. A homologation special, the 1800 TI/SA, was introduced in 1964. The TI/SA’s engine had dual Weber DCOE-45 carburettors and a 10.5:1 compression ratio. This engine produced 130 hp at 6,100 rpm and 144 N⋅m (106 lb⋅ft) at 5,250 rpm. The TI/SA also had a Getrag five-speed gearbox, stronger anti-roll bars, and larger-diameter brake discs than the TI. 200 examples of the TI/SA were built and were only sold to licensed racing and sports drivers. An automatic transmission option was introduced in 1966 and in 1967 the 1800 was generally updated along with the 2000. The updates included interior changes (a modernized dashboard design and simpler door panels) as well as styling changes to the front grilles. In 1968 the 1,773 cc engine used in the 1800 was replaced by an engine with the 89 mm bore of the 2.0 L engine and the original 71 mm (2.8 in) stroke, which resulted in a displacement of 1,766 cc and a stroke/bore ratio of 0.798:1 (compared with the previous 1800 engine’s ratio of 0.952:1) The 1600, introduced as the replacement to the 1500 in 1964, used the 84 mm bore of the 1800 with the 1500s 71 mm stroke, resulting in a displacement of 1,573 cc, a power output of 83 hp at 5,500 rpm and 113 N⋅m (83 lb⋅ft) at 3,000 rpm. The 1600 was produced until early 1971. The engines from the 2000C and 2000CS coupes were used in the 4-door sedan body for the 2000 and 2000TI models. The 2000 sedan, released in 1965, used the 101 bhp engine from the 2000 C. The 2000TI sedan, released in 1966, used the 121 hp engine from the 2000 CS with twin Solex PHH side-draft carburettors. Intended as an upscale version of the 1800, the 2000 featured distinct wide taillights, more exterior trim, and unique rectangular headlights. The American market 2000 sedans could not have the rectangular headlights due to government regulations. A different grille with four individual round headlights, similar to the design that BMW later used in the 2500 sedan, was offered in the US. The 2000TI retained the ‘1800’ taillights and headlights. A more luxurious 2000TI-lux (later “tilux”) featured the sporty TI engine with a more high-grade interior and accessories, including a wood dashboard and optional leather seats. In 1969, BMW introduced the 2000tii (‘touring international, injected’), BMW’s first fuel-injected model, featuring Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection. The 2000tii produced 130 hp at 5,800 rpm and 178 N⋅m (131 lb⋅ft) at 4,500 rpm. 1,952 2000tii cars were built of this final New Class sedan model.

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There was a second example of the 02 Series here, a 1968 2002 Ti. Helmut Werner Bönsch, BMW’s director of product planning, and Alex von Falkenhausen, designer of the M10 engine, each had a two litre engine installed in a 1600-2 for their respective personal use. When they realised they had both made the same modification to their own cars, they prepared a joint proposal to BMW’s board to manufacture a two litre version of the 1600-2. At the same time, American importer Max Hoffman was asking BMW for a sporting version of the 02 series that could be sold in the United States. As per the larger coupe and 4-door saloon models, the 2.0 engine was sold in two states of tune: the base single-carburettor 2002 producing 101 hp and the dual-carburettor high compression 2002 ti producing 119 hp.In 1971, the Baur cabriolet was switched from the 1.6 litre engine to the 2.0 litre engine to become the 2002 cabriolet, the Touring hatchback version of the 02 Series became available with all engine sizes available in the 02 Series at the time and the 2002 tii was introduced as the replacement for the 2002 ti. The 2002 tii used the fuel-injected 130 hp engine from the 2000 tii, which resulted in a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph). A 2002 tii Touring model was available throughout the run of the tii engine and the Touring body, both of which ended production in 1974. The 2002 Turbo was launched at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show. This was BMW’s first turbocharged production car and the first turbocharged car since General Motors’ brief offerings in the early 1960s. It produced 170 hp. The 2002 Turbo used the 2002 tii engine with a KKK turbocharger and a compression ratio of 6.9:1 in order to prevent engine knocking. Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection was used, with a sliding throttle plate instead of the usual throttle butterfly. The 2002 Turbo was introduced just before the 1973 oil crisis, therefore only 1,672 were built. The 1802 was introduced in 1971 and was available with either the original 2-door sedan body or the 3-door Touring hatchback introduced that year. Production of the Touring model continued until 1974, with the 1802 sedan ending production the following year. The 1502, an economy model with an engine displacement of 1573 cc was introduced in 1975. This engine had a lower compression ratio of 8.0:1, therefore standard-octane petrol could be used. While the rest of the 02 Series was replaced in 1975 by the E21 3 Series, the 1502 was continued until 1977.

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Displayed on the ground floor were a number of 2 seater sports roadsters from BMW’s past. Some of these were visible from the upper floors of the museum, but when entering the display on the ground floor, you could see that were more cars in this part of the collection than had been apparent earlier in the visit.

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The BMW 315/1 was a sports car based on the 315 saloon. It used the same chassis as the 315 saloon and had an engine of the same displacement. However, with compression ratio increased to 6.8:1 from 5.6:1 in the saloon, and with the use of three Solex carburettors, power increased to 40.0 bhp at 4300 rpm, while the roadster bodywork reduced kerb weight to 750 kg (1,653 lb). The BMW 319/1 was a 1.9-litre version of the 315/1 introduced alongside the 319 in 1935. The dimensions of the 319’s engine with the performance modification of the 315/1’s engine resulted in 55 bhp at 4000 rpm in the 319/1 roadster Production of the 315/1 and 319/1 roadsters ended in 1936, with 242 of the 315/1 roadsters and 102 of the 319/1s built. The 315/1 and 319/1 were replaced by the BMW 328, which was based on an all-new tubular steel ladder frame, but used the steering gear and suspension of the 319/1.

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The 328 was a sports car made between 1936 and 1940, with the body design credited to Peter Szymanowski, who became BMW chief of design after World War II (although technically the car was designed by Fritz Fiedler). It had a 1971cc straight 6 OHV engine and 3 solec carburettors which gave it an output of 79 bhp at 5000 rpm, and a top speed of 150 km/h, making this relatively light car ideal for motorsport. The 328 was introduced at the Eifelrennen race at the Nürburgring in 1936, where Ernst Henne drove it to win the 2.0 litre class. The 328 had more than 100 class wins in 1937, including the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Österreichische Alpenfahrt, and the La Turbie hillclimb. In 1938, the 328 won its class at Le Mans, the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Alpine Rally, and the Mille Miglia. The 328 won the RAC Rally in 1939 and came in fifth overall and first in class in the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car continued its competition career after the war, with Frank Pratt winning the 1948 Australian Grand Prix driving a 328.

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There was also a Z1 here, the very striking sports car that was produced only for a short period between 1989 and 1991. The first example of the Z1 was released by BMW to the press in 1986 and later officially presented at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show. Initial demand was so fierce that BMW had 5,000 orders before production began. The Z1 was designed over a three-year period by an in-house division of BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH. The development of the Z1 is attributed to Ulrich Bez and his team at BMW Technik GmbH. The BMW Z1 was used to develop and debut several technologies. Z1 designer Harm Lagaay mentioned that Z1 production helped generate patents for BMW’s high-intensity discharge lamp, integrated roll-bar, door mechanism, and underbody tray. Both the engine and the five-speed manual transmission were sourced from the E30 325i. The 2.5 litre 12-valve SOHC straight-six engine sits tilted 20 degrees to the right to accommodate the low bonnet line. The engine produces 168 hp at 5,800 rpm and 164 lb·ft of torque in its original form. The rear suspension, called the Z Axle, was specially designed for the Z1 and this was one of the first BMWs to feature a multi-link design. In the 1990s, the Z Axle would be used on a variety of BMW Group vehicles, including the E36, 3 series, and the R40 Rover 75.The chassis was specially designed for the Z1 and featured a number of innovative features: removable body panels, continuously zinc welded seams, a composite undertray, and the unusual dropped doors. Parts of the car (including the engine, gearbox, and front suspension) were borrowed from the BMW E30 325i and 325Ix, but most of the Z1’s components are unique to the model, and that had the consequence of making it expensive. The body was made from plastic and could be removed completely from the chassis. The side panels and doors are made of General Electric’s XENOY thermoplastic. The hood, trunk, and roof cover are GRP components made by Seger + Hoffman AG. The car is painted in a special flexible lacquer finish developed jointly by AKZO Coatings and BMW Technik GmbH. During the Z1s launch, BMW suggested that owners purchase an additional set of body panels and change the colour of the car from time to time. The car could actually be driven with all of the panels completely removed, similar to the Pontiac Fiero. BMW noted that the body could be completely replaced in 40 minutes, although Z1 owners have reported that this may be optimistic. The entire vehicle was designed with aerodynamics in mind. Specifically, the entire undertray is completely flat and the exhaust and rear valance were designed as integral aerodynamic components to decrease turbulence and rear lift. The front end reportedly induces a high-pressure zone just forward of the front wheels to increase front-wheel traction.The Z1 has a drag coefficient of 0.36 Cd with the top up or 0.43 Cd with it down. The doors retract vertically down into the car’s body instead of swinging outward or upward. The Kaiser Darrin was the first car to have retractable doors; they slid forward into the front wings. The inspiration for these doors came from more traditional roadsters which often feature removable metal or cloth doors. Because removable doors did not fit within BMW’s design goals, the retractable doors were installed instead. The body with its high sills, offers crash protection independent of the doors, the vehicle may be legally and safely driven with the doors up or down, although this is not legal in the U.S. The windows may be operated independently of the doors, although they do retract automatically if the door is lowered. Both the window and door are driven by electric motors through toothed rubber belts and may be moved manually in an emergency. It took a while to get the Z1 into production, by which time demand had dropped considerably, perhaps due to reduced demand from speculators. In the end, BMW only produced 8,000 Z1 models. 6,443 of these were sold in BMW’s native German market. The country to receive the second-greatest number of Z1s, Italy, received less than 7% of the total sold domestically. BMW was reportedly unable to build more than 10 to 20 Z1 vehicles each day. None were initially sold in North America, although examples have been independently imported since the car’s launch. More than half of all Z1 vehicles (specifically, 4,091) were produced for the 1990 model year. Seventy-eight Z1 vehicles were reportedly used as test mules, although most were later sold without a warranty and, presumably, at a lower price. The Z1 was available in six exterior colours and four interior colours. Most (6,177) were red, black, or green with a dark grey interior. Light yellow exterior (fun-gelb in German or fun yellow in English, with 33 examples made and cars with a red interior (38 examples made) are the rarest Z1 colours. The colours swimming pool blue and oh-so-orange were reserved for the car’s designers, Bez and Lagaay. Reportedly, some 1,101 Z1 vehicles were delivered without a factory radio installed. In these vehicles, BMWS AG installed an aftermarket Sony radio in its place. None of the Z1 vehicles were sold with air conditioning. The vehicle’s dashboard is very small and there was no room for both heat and cooling units. Some Z1 vehicles were converted using BMW E30 parts to have air conditioning, but reportedly the heater elements had to be removed. Although prices did drop from the new car cost of around £40,000, these have never been cheap cars to buy, and these days values are increasing again.

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There was a gap of a few years before the next roadster arrived in the range. This was the Z3, and is notable for the fact that all cars, no matter where they were sold were produced at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. The initial roadster was joined by a coupe and these are known respectively as the E36/7 and E36/8. This is because the Z3 was based on the E36 3 Series platform, though it used the rear semi-trailing arm suspension design of the older E30 3 Series. It was the first mass-produced Z Series car. Development on the roadster began in 1991 and was led by Burkhard Göschel. The exterior was designed by Joji Nagashima, being completed in mid-1992 at 39 months before production and the design was frozen in 1993. Design patents were filed on April 2, 1994 in Germany and on September 27, 1994 in the US The Z3 was introduced via video press release by BMW North America on June 12, 1995. Production began on September 20, 1995. Development on the coupé model was run by a group of BMW engineers outside of work in their own time. Roadster models entered production in September 1995, powered by 4-cylinder engines on launch. 6-cylinder engines were later introduced in 1996. A removable hardtop roof was available as an optional accessory. The Z3 Coupé shares the same platform and parts with the roadster, but features a chassis-stiffening hatch area and is 2.7 times stiffer in comparison. The Z3 Coupé was unveiled at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show. Coupé models entered production in September 1998 with its controversial shooting brake design, which has been nicknamed “clown shoe” and “bread van” by critics. In Germany, it has been nicknamed the “turnschuh” (sports shoe). Coupé models were only produced as 2.8, 3.0i, and M Coupé models.

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This hall contained a series of cars that all bear the revered M badge. These days it is applied to an example of just about every model in the range, and the purists will decry the fact hat some of these cars are marketing propositions that do not really live up to everything that made M so desirable in the first place. That allegation could not be levelled at any of the cars on display here.

First M car of them all, though none of us really knew just how significant the letter would become when it was launched, was the M1. In the late 1970s, Italian manufacturer Lamborghini had entered into an agreement with BMW to build a production racing car in sufficient quantity for homologation, but conflicts arose and Lamborghini’s increasingly tenuous financial position at the time meant that BMW reasserted control over the project and ended up producing the car themselves after 7 prototypes had been built. The result was the BMW M1 a hand-built car that was sold to the public between 1978 and 1981 under the Motorsport division of BMW. The body was designed by Giugiaro, taking inspiration from the 1972 BMW Turbo show car. The only mid-engined BMW to be “mass”produced, it employed a twin-cam M88/1 3.5 litre 6-cylinder petrol engine with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection, a version of which was later used in the South African version of the BMW 745i, as well as the E24 BMW M6/M635CSi and E28 BMW M5. The engine had six separate throttle bodies, four valves per cylinder and produced 273 hp, giving it a top speed of 162 mph. Turbocharged racing versions were capable of producing around 850 hp. Only 453 production M1s were built, making it one of BMW’s rarest models. Of these, 20 were race versions created for the BMW M1 Procar Championship.

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Next up was the E28 M5 here, the first 5 Seires model to bear the now legendary name. This M5 made its debut at Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1984. It was the product of demand for an automobile with the carrying capacity of a saloon, but the overall appearance of a sports car. It utilised the 535xi chassis and an evolution of the bodykit from the M535i. At its launch, the E28 M5 was the fastest production sedan in the world. The first generation M5 was hand-built in Preussenstrasse/Munich prior to the 1986 Motorsport factory summer vacation. Thereafter, M5 production was moved to Daimlerstrasse in Garching where the remainder were built by hand. Production of the M5 continued until November 1988, well after production of the E28 chassis ended in Germany in December 1987. The M5 was produced in four different versions based on intended export locations. These were the left-hand drive (LHD) Euro spec, the right-hand drive (RHD) UK spec, the LHD North American (NA) spec for the United States and Canada, and the RHD South African (ZA) spec. The European and South African M5s used the M88/3 engine which produced 286 PS. North American 1988 models used the S38B35 engine which was equipped with a catalytic converter and produced 256 hp. With a total production of 2,191 units, the E28 M5 remains among the rarest regular production BMW Motorsport cars – after the BMW M1 (456 units), BMW E34 M5 Touring (891 units), and the BMW 850CSi (1510 units).

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The M6 lineage began in 1983 with the M635CSi model of the E24 6 Series range, which was powered by the M88/3 DOHC straight-six engine (which was a modified version of the engine used in the BMW M1 supercar). In most countries, the model was badged the M635CSi, however the equivalent model in North America and Japan was simply badged in “M6”. The European-specification M635CSi used the M88/3 engine (without a catalytic converter), which generated 282 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 340 Nm (251 lb/ft) at 4,500 rpm. The M6 version, sold in North America and Japan, used the S38B35 engine (with catalytic converter), which generated 256 bhp and 330 Nm (243 lb/ft) at the same engine speeds. The catalyzed engine was also used in European and other market cars beginning in the summer of 1987, with identical specifications to the federalised engine. The sole transmission for all models was a 5-speed Getrag 280 manual transmission. Other changes included BBS RS wheels, a rear lip spoiler, a larger front air dam, larger front brakes and revised suspension with a 10 mm (0.4 in) lower ride height. The E24 series became a “world car” for the 1988 and 1989 model years, sporting the same bumpers and aerodynamic treatments as its high-performance counterparts across all markets. Production of the E24 M635CSi/M6 ended in 1989. According to BMW, the car can accelerate from 0–60 mph in 5.8 and 6.8 seconds for the European and North American versions respectively.A top speed of 255 km/h (158 mph) made the European M635CSi the second fastest BMW automobile ever built next to the M1. The quarter mile time for the M635 CSi has been recorded at 14.5 seconds while 161 km/h (100 mph) is achieved in 15 seconds. A total of 5,855 cars were produced.

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Without doubt, it was this car which really created the M legend, the E30 generation and first car to bear the M3 name. Produced initially purely as a homologation special, the car achieved far greater levels of interest than ever imagined, and the rest, as they say, is history. Based on the 1986 model year E30 3 Series, the car was initially available with the 2 door body and was later offered as a convertible bodies. The E30 M3 used the BMW S14 engine. The first iteration of the road car engine produced 195 PS with a catalytic converter and 200 PS without a catalytic converter in September 1989 power was increased to 215 PS with a catalytic converter. The “Evolution” model (also called “EVO2”) produced 220 PS. Other Evolution model changes included larger wheels (16 X 7.5 inches), thinner rear and side window glass, a lighter bootlid, a deeper front splitter and additional rear spoiler. Later the “Sport Evolution” model production run of 600 (sometimes referred as “EVO3”) increased engine displacement to 2.5 litres and produced 238 PS. Sport Evolution models have enlarged front bumper openings and an adjustable multi-position front splitter and rear wing. Brake cooling ducts were installed in place of front foglights. An additional 786 convertibles were also produced. The E30 M3 differed from the rest of the E30 line-up in many other ways. Although using the same basic unit-body shell as the standard E30, the M3 was equipped with 12 different and unique body panels for the purposes of improving aerodynamics, as well as “box flared” wheel-arches in the front and rear to accommodate a wider track with wider and taller wheels and tyres. The only exterior body panels the standard model 3 Series and the M3 shared were the bonnet, roof panel, sunroof, and door panels. The E30 M3 differed from the standard E30 by having a 5×120 wheel bolt pattern. The E30 M3 had increased caster angle through major front suspension changes. The M3 had specific solid rubber offset control arm bushings. It used aluminium control arms and the front strut tubes were changed to a design similar (bolt on kingpins and swaybar mounted to strut tube) to the E28 5 Series. This included carrying over the 5 series front wheel bearings and brake caliper bolt spacing. The rear suspension was a carry over from the E30. The E30 M3 had special front and rear brake calipers and rotors. It also has a special brake master cylinder. The E30 M3 had one of two Getrag 265 5-speed gearboxes. US models received an overdrive transmission while European models were outfitted with a dogleg version, with first gear being down and to the left, and fifth gear being a direct 1:1 ratio. Rear differentials installed included a 4.10:1 final-drive ratio for US models. European versions were equipped with a 3.15:1 final drive ratio. All versions were clutch-type limited-slip differentials with 25% lockup. To keep the car competitive in racing following year-to-year homologation rules changes, homologation specials were produced. These include the Evo 1, Evo 2, and Sport Evolution, some of which featured less weight, improved aerodynamics, taller front wheel arches (Sport Evolution; to further facilitate 18-inch wheels in DTM), brake ducting, and more power. Other limited-production models (based on evolution models but featuring special paintwork and/or unique interior schemes commemorating championship wins) include the Europa, Ravaglia, Cecotto, and Europameister. Production of the original E30 M3 ended in early 1992.

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The M3 version of the E46 3 Series was produced in coupé and convertible body styles. The E46 M3 is powered by the S54 straight-six engine and has a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time of 5.1 seconds for the coupe, with either the manual or SMG-II transmission. The skid pad cornering results are 0.89 g for the coupe and 0.81 g for the convertible.The top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). The available transmissions were a Getrag 420G 6-speed manual transmission or a SMG-II 6-speed automated manual transmission, which was based on the Getrag 420G.[58] The SMG-II used an electrohydraulically actuated clutch and gearshifts could be selected via the gear knob or paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The SMG-II was praised for its fast shift times and racetrack performance, but some people found its shifts to be delayed and lurching in stop-start traffic. In 2005, a special edition was introduced which used several parts from the CSL. This model was called the M3 Competition Package (ZCP) in the United States and mainland Europe, and the M3 CS in the United Kingdom. Compared to the regular M3, the Competition Package includes: 19-inch BBS alloy wheels- 19″x 8″ at the front and 19″x 9.5″ at the rear; Stiffer springs (which were carried over to the regular M3 from 12/04); Faster ratio steering rack of 14.5:1 (compared with the regular M3’s ratio of 15.4:1) as per the CSL; Steering wheel from the CSL; M-track mode for the electronic stability control, as per the CSL; The CSL’s larger front brake discs (but with the regular M3 front calipers) and rear brake calipers with larger pistons; Alcantara steering wheel and handbrake covers; The engine, gearbox and other drivetrain components are the same as the standard M3. Total production of the E46 M3 was 56,133 coupes and 29,633 convertibles. The cars were assembled at the BMW Regensburg factory in Germany and production was from September 2000 until August 2006, production totalled 85,766.

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The Z3 M Roadster was introduced in 1997 as the high performance version of the BMW Z3. Cosmetic differences between the Z3 M and the standard Z3 models included front and rear bumpers, gills, boot and mirrors. The standard Z3 models received a facelift in 1999. The appearance of the Z3 M was not changed. In the 6 years from 1997 to 2002, Compared to the standard Z3, M models featured a limited slip differential, a wider rear track, and larger brakes (that are shared with the E36 M3). Z3M models were available in M-specific colors, they feature more aerodynamic wing-mirrors as well as redesigned front and rear bumpers and bespoke “Roadstar” Style 40 wheels, revised side gill and quad exhausts. The interior can also be differentiated by the voltmeter, clock and oil temperature gauges in the centre console, leather-wrapped centre console and door pulls, as well as unique M-styled seats and interior colour options. The Z3M Coupe and Roadster were initially powered by the 3.2 L version of the BMW S50 engine, while North American models initially used the less powerful BMW S52 engine. The S50 is rated at 316 bhp at 7,400 rpm and 350 Nm (260 lb/ft) of torque at 3,250rpm, while the S52 engine is rated at 240 bhp at 6,000rpm and 320 Nm (240 lb/ft) at 3,800rpm. A total of 2,999 cars were built with the S50 engine and 2,180 cars were built with the S52 engine. Starting in September 2001, the engines were upgraded to the BMW S54 engine from the E46 M3. In most countries, it is rated at 321 bhp at 7,400 rpm and 354 Nm (261 lb⋅/t) at 4,900 rpm, while North American models have 315 bhp at 7,400 rpm and 341 Nm (252 lb/ft) at 4,900 rpm. The difference in peak power and torque is due to the catalytic converters being located closer to the engine on the North American spec cars, which allows the catalysts to heat up faster and reduce cold start emissions. In total 15,322 M Roadsters were produced.

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Completing the display were a number of the M Engines.

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Though BMW designed the Neue Klasse for families on the move, the saloon became immensely successful in racing during the 1960s. Hubert Hahne became the first touring car driver to lap the Nürburgring – Nordschleife in under ten minutes, a monstrously difficult achievement at the time. His 2000 TI received basic modifications like wider steel wheels. The victories of drivers like Hahne gave BMW the credibility to offer its modern-day M cars with a Competition Package. These days the cars are popular in historic racing championships, competing against the Lotus Cortina and Alfa Romeo GTVs of the period.

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Introduced in May 1972, the 3.0 CSL was a homologation special built to make the car eligible for racing in the European Touring Car Championship. The “L” in the designation meant leicht (light), unlike in other BMW designations, where it meant lang (long). The lightness was achieved by using thinner steel to build the unit body, deleting the trim and soundproofing, using aluminium alloy doors, bonnet, and boot lid, and using Perspex side windows. The five hundred 3.0 CSLs exported to the United Kingdom were not quite as light as the others, as the importer had insisted on retaining the soundproofing, electric windows, and stock E9 bumpers on these cars. Initially using the same engine as the 3.0 CS, The 3.0 CSL was given a very small increase in displacement to 3,003 cc by increasing the engine bore by one quarter of a millimetre. his was done in August 1972 to allow the CSL to be raced in the “over three litre” racing category, allowing for some increase in displacement in the racing cars. In 1973, the engine in the 3.0 CSL was given another, more substantial increase in displacement to 3,153 cc by increasing the stroke to 84 mm (3.3 in). This final version of the 3.0 CSL was homologated in July 1973 along with an aerodynamic package including a large air dam, short fins running along the front fenders, a spoiler above and behind the trailing edge of the roof, and a tall rear wing. The rear wings were not installed at the factory, but were left in the boot for installation after purchase. This was done because the wings were illegal for use on German roads. The full aero package earned the racing CSLs the nickname “Batmobile”. In 1973, Toine Hezemans won the European Touring Car Championship in a 3.0 CSL and co-drove a 3.0 CSL with Dieter Quester to a class victory at Le Mans. Hezemans and Quester had driven to second place at the 1973 German Touring Car Grand Prix at Nürburgring, being beaten only by Chris Amon and Hans-Joachim Stuck in another 3.0 CSL. 3.0 CSLs would win the European Touring Car Championship again in every year from 1975 to 1979. The 3.0 CSL was raced in the IMSA GT Championship in 1975, with Sam Posey, Brian Redman, and Ronnie Peterson winning races during the season.

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In just twelve weeks, BMW Motorsport developed a Group 5 version of the all new ‘E21’ 320 saloon. The new GT racer was ready in time for the 1977 season and replaced the ageing 3.0 CSL, which had actually started life as a Touring Car earlier in the decade. What helped to develop the car in such a short timespan was the fact that a suitable engine already existed in the form of the mighty ‘M12’ four-cylinder that had been successfully used by sports cars and F2 racers for several seasons. Producing around 310 bhp from its two-litre displacement, the twin-cam, sixteen-valve engine was mounted inside a heavily modified production car shell. This had been stripped off all unnecessary components and fitted with massive flared wheel-arches and an aggressive aerodynamics package that been honed in the Pininfarina wind-tunnel. The end result was a truly spectacular machine that tipped the scales at just 740 kg including the driver and half a tank of fuel. With a near perfect 50/50 weight distribution, it was also very well balanced. The Group 5 version of the 320 was introduced in December of 1976, ready to hit the track the following season. It was to be raced by BMW’s loyal customers on both sides of the Atlantic while the German manufacturer also fielded works cars for their talented ‘junior’ drivers. In Europe, the cars were raced with considerable success in the World Championship and also in Germany’s highly competitive DRM series. Especially on tight circuits the compact BMW did very well against the more powerful Porsche 934s and 935s. Several wins were scored but the championship titles remained out of reach. In North America, the BMWs struggled to keep up with the big Porsches and the German manufacturer joined forces with engine builder McLaren North America to create a turbocharged version of the M12 engine. Ready in April of 1977, the first two-litre turbo engine produced around 500 bhp, which would quickly rise to over 600 bhp. Back in Munich a similar program was started with a 1.4-litre turbo version of the M12 unit, which would still qualify the car in the two-litre category. While very powerful, the 320 Turbos were also notoriously unreliable. The Group 5 BMW 320 continued to be raced with considerable success both in naturally aspirated and turbocharged guises into the 1978 season. In the United States, the works supported McLaren North America cars won several races but the sheer number of Porsche 935s alone made their task very difficult. The two-litre class of the DRM series was absolutely dominated by the 320 in 1978 with several of BMW customers using a Schnitzer developed turbocharged engine as well. The ultimate development was a further lightened car of which just a handful were built in 1978. The introduction of Group C racing brought an end to Group 5 and the successful career of the BMW 320. In its various guises, the small BMW had won numerous races but ultimately failed to be a season-long contender against the much larger engined Porsche.

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A racing sports car was created with the BMW M3 Group A which was to achieve more victories in the subsequent years than any other car in its class. As a result of the diverse regulations governing motor sport in different countries, varying capacities were used, for example 2.3 litres for the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) from 1987 to 1989 and 2.5 litres for the DTM from 1990. The M3 became the most successful touring car in the world with victories in the World Championship, two European Championships, two championship titles in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM), 60 national championships, seven European Hillclimb Championships, five Mitropa Rally Cups and eight victories in 24 hour races.

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The American Le Mans Series-conquering M3 GTR from 2001. Before being wheeled into the museum the GTR was temporarily brought out of retirement to win the Nurburgring 24 hours in 2004 and 2005.

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Another quite varied collection of road cars, both production and conceptual comprised the final array of machines to admire.

The first BMW 327, sitting on a shortened version of the BMW 326 chassis, launched in 1937, was a cabriolet. In 1938, this was joined by a fixed head coupé version. The car was shorter and lower than its sedan counterpart, but shared the famous BMW grill and a streamlined form representative of the more progressive designs of the 1930s. Mechanically, the car utilised the hydraulic brake control, gear box, clutch and front suspension system first seen on the BMW 326, along with the live axle used on the BMW 320 and BMW 328. The BMW M78 straight-6 engine was used. The advertised top speed was 125 km/h (78 mph) A higher-powered model, the 327/28, was offered with the M328 engine. 569 of these high-powered 327/28 cars were built up to 1940. Among some enthusiasts, the 327 has subsequently been overshadowed by its more uncompromising sibling, the 80 bhp BMW 328 which appeared in April 1936. In its day, however, the 327 was the bigger seller, with 1,396 base engined versions built between 1937 and 1941, and significant further production after 1945.

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A second 328 with Mille Miglia pedigree was this 1939 open-topped car. The original plans envisaged three 2 Series BMW 328 Roasters being built with streamlined bodies specifically to compete in the Mille Miglia 1940. However, by the start of the Mille Miglia, only two cars were ready. Capacity constraints meant that all the assembly work could not be carried out at the Munich factory. The fact is that the plant only had limited capacity available in the Development Department for building custom vehicles, because only motorcycles and aero-engines were produced in Munich at this time. All BMW series automobiles manufactured before 1945 came from the Eisenach plant. Due to this lack of capacity and the urgent schedule, the completed chassis and space frames were loaded onto a truck and shipped to Milan so that the bodies could be fitted there on the basis of the BMW designs. Coachbuilder Touring based there had already agreed to produce the aluminium outer skin of these vehicles in an expedited procedure. The roadsters fitted with the outer skin produced there lacked the characteristic “trouser creases” on the wings typical of the 1 Series BMW 328 Mille Miglia Roadster, which had been assembled entirely at the Munich plan. Like all other BMW racing cars that lined up at the start of the Mille Miglia 1940, these two roadsters were powered by a BMW 328 engine that generated around 135 hp instead of the standard 80 hp. The two identical Series 2 BMW Mille Miglia Roadsters led the field in the Mille Miglia 1940 with starting numbers 72 and 74 and took third and fifth place after 1,000 miles. They therefore made an important contribution to the team victory obtained by the BMW automobiles in addition to the overall victory.

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Related to the E3 saloons of 1968 were the E9 coupe models, and there was an example of one of those here, a 3.0 CS. These two-door coupés were built for BMW by Karmann from 1968 to 1975 and were developed from the New Class-based BMW 2000 CS coupé. The first of the E9 coupés, the 2800 CS, replaced the 2000 C and 2000 CS in 1968. The wheelbase and length were increased to allow the engine bay to be long enough to accommodate the new straight-six engine code-named M30, and the front of the car was restyled to resemble the E3 saloon. The rear axle, however, remained the same as that used in the lesser “Neue Klasse” models and the rear brakes were initially drums – meaning that the 2800 saloon was a better performing car, as it was also lighter. The CS’ advantages were thus strictly optical to begin with The 2800 CS used the 2,788 cc version of the engine used in the E3 2800 ssaloon. The engine produced 170 hp. The 2800CS was replaced by the 3.0 CS and 3.0 CSi in 1971. The engine had been bored out to give a displacement of 2,986 cc, and was offered with a 9.0:1 compression ratio, twin carburettors, and 180 hp in the 3.0 CS or a 9.5:1 compression ratio, Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection, and 200 hp in the 3.0 CSi. There was a 4 speed manual and an automatic transmission variant. Introduced in May 1972, the 3.0 CSL was a homologation special built to make the car eligible for racing in the European Touring Car Championship. 1,265 were built. The “L” in the designation meant leicht (light), unlike in other BMW designations, where it meant lang (long). The lightness was achieved by using thinner steel to build the unit body, deleting the trim and soundproofing, using aluminium alloy doors, bonnet, and boot lid, and using Perspex side windows. The five hundred 3.0 CSLs exported to the United Kingdom were not quite as light as the others, as the importer had insisted on retaining the soundproofing, electric windows, and stock E9 bumpers on these cars. Initially using the same engine as the 3.0 CS, the 3.0 CSL was given a very small increase in displacement to 3,003 cc by increasing the engine bore by one quarter of a millimetre. This was done in August 1972 to allow the CSL to be raced in the “over three litre” racing category, allowing for some increase in displacement in the racing cars. In 1973,the engine in the 3.0 CSL was given another, more substantial increase in displacement to 3,153 cc by increasing the stroke to 84 mm. This final version of the 3.0 CSL was homologated in July 1973 along with an aerodynamic package including a large air dam, short fins running along the front fenders, a spoiler above and behind the trailing edge of the roof, and a tall rear wing. The rear wings were not installed at the factory, but were left in the boot for installation after purchase. This was done because the wings were illegal for use on German roads. The full aero package earned the racing CSLs the nickname “Batmobile”. In 1973, Toine Hezemans won the European Touring Car Championship in a 3.0 CSL and co-drove a 3.0 CSL with Dieter Quester to a class victory at Le Mans. Hezemans and Quester had driven to second place at the 1973 German Touring Car Grand Prix at Nürburgring, being beaten only by Chris Amon and Hans-Joachim Stuck in another 3.0 CSL 3.0 CSLs would win the European Touring Car Championship again in every year from 1975 to 1979. The 3.0 CSL was raced in the IMSA GT Championship in 1975, with Sam Posey, Brian Redman, and Ronnie Peterson winning races during the season. The first two BMW Art Cars were 3.0 CSLs; the first was painted by Alexander Calder and the second by Frank Stella.

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This is the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept is a plug-in hybrid with a 1.5L three cylinder turbo-diesel engine. Additionally, there are two electric motors with 139 hp (104 kW). It allows an acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.8 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). According to BMW, the average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle (KV01) is 3.76 l/100 km (75.1 mpg), and has a carbon dioxide emission rating of 99 g/km (1,3 l/100 km and 33g CO2/kabelham ; EU-PHEV ECE-R101). The estimated all-electric range is 50 km (31 mi), and the 24-litre petrol tank extends the total vehicle range to up to 700 km (430 mi). The lightweight chassis is made mainly from aluminum. The windshield, top, doors and fenders are made from polycarbonate glass, with the body having a drag coefficient of 0.22. The designers of the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept were Mario Majdandzic for the exterior and Jochen Paesen (lead interior design), Markus Speck (interior design) and Felix Staudacher former Baerlin( detail design) for the interior. While Jochen Paesen took care of the main interior theme, Markus Speck were in charge of the seats, all the visible structure and some details. Felix Baerlin supported Jochen Paesen on the detail side like steering wheel and centre console. The vehicle was unveiled in the 2009 International Motor Show Germany, followed by Auto China 2010. A more production-like concept car debuted in 2011 before the production i8 made its debut at the 2013 Frankfurt IAA Show.

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One of the rarest BMW models of all times is the 507. Originally intended to be exported to the US at the rate of thousands a year, it never achieved that lofty goal and almost bankrupted the company. The 507 was conceived by U.S. automobile importer Max Hoffman who, in 1954, persuaded the BMW management to produce a roadster version of the BMW 501 and BMW 502 saloons to fill the gap between the expensive Mercedes-Benz 300SL and the cheap and underpowered Triumph and MG sports cars. BMW engineer Fritz Fiedler was assigned to design the rolling chassis, using existing components wherever possible. Early body designs by Ernst Loof were rejected by Hoffman, who found them to be unappealing. In November 1954, at Hoffman’s insistence, BMW contracted designer Albrecht von Goertz to design the BMW 503 and the 507. The production car was launched in late 1955. Thirty-four Series I 507s were built in 1956 and early 1957. These cars had welded aluminium fuel tanks of 110 litres capacity behind the rear seats. These large tanks limited both boot space and passenger space, and gave off the smell of fuel inside the car when the hood was erected or the hardtop was in place. Series II and later 507s had fuel tanks of 66 litres capacity under the boot, shaped around a space for the spare tyre to fit. The 507 frame was a shortened 503 frame, the wheelbase having been reduced from 111.6 in to 98 in. Overall length was 190.4 in, and overall height was 49.5 in. Curb weight was about 1,330 kilograms (2,930 lb). The body was almost entirely hand-formed of aluminium, and no two models were exactly the same. 11 cars were sold with an optional hand-fabricated removable hardtop. Because of the car-to-car differences, each hardtop fits only the car for which it was made. Front suspension was parallel double wishbones, with torsion bar springs and an anti-roll bar. Rear suspension had a live axle, also sprung by torsion bars, and located by a Panhard rod and a central, transverse A-arm to control acceleration and braking forces. Brakes were Alfin drum brakes of 11.2 in diameter, and power brakes were optional. Late-model 507s had front Girling disc brakes. The engine was BMW’s aluminium alloy OHV V8, of 3,168 cc with pushrod-operated overhead valves. It had two Zenith 32NDIX two-barrel carburettors, a chain-driven oil pump, high-lift cams, a different spark advance curve, polished combustion chamber surfaces, and a compression ratio of 7.8:1,yielding 150 hp at 5,000 rpm. It was mated to a close ratio four-speed manual transmission. The standard rear-end ratio was 3.70:1, but ratios of 3.42:1 and 3.90:1 were optional. A contemporary road test of a 507 with the standard 3.70:1 final drive was reported in Motor Revue, stating a 0–100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration time of 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph. The 507 made its debut at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in the summer of 1955. Production began in November 1956. Max Hoffman intended the 507 to sell for about US$5,000, which he believed would allow a production run of 5,000 units a year. Instead, high production costs pushed the price in Germany to DM 26,500 (later 29,950), driving the U.S. price initially to $9,000 and ultimately $10,500. Despite attracting celebrity buyers including Elvis Presley (who owned two), Hans Stuck and Georg “Schorsch” Meier, the car never once reached more than 10% of the sales volumes achieved by its Stuttgart rival, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. Intended to revive BMW’s sporting image, the 507 instead took BMW to the edge of bankruptcy—the company’s losses for 1959 were DM 15 million. The company lost money on each 507 built, and production was terminated in late 1959. Only 252 were built, plus two prototypes. Fortunately for the company, an infusion of capital from Herbert Quandt and the launch of new, cheaper models (the BMW 700 and later the ‘New Class’ 1500) helped the company recover. The 507 remains a milestone model for its attractive styling. 202 507s are known to survive, a tribute to the car’s appeal. Bernie Ecclestone’s 507 fetched £430,238 at an auction in London in October 2007. By 2009 the prices for 507s had reached €900,000. At the Amelia Island Concours in March, 2014 a 507 sold at auction for $2.4 million. Several notable personalities have owned 507s. In 1959, while stationed in Germany on duty with the US Army, legendary American entertainer Elvis Presley bought a white 507. Presley’s car, no. 70079, had earlier been used as a press demonstrator by BMW and raced by Hans Stuck. It was imported into the United States in 1960 and was bought by Alabama disc jockey Tommy Charles, who had it extensively modified, including having the engine replaced with a Chevrolet V8. In July 2014, BMW Group announced that Presley’s car will be on display for a short period at the BMW Museum in Munich, before being entirely restored by its Classic department. Elvis reportedly gave another 507, no. 70192, to Ursula Andress, who starred in Fun in Acapulco with him in 1963. Andress’s husband, John Derek, had the car customised, including having the engine replaced with a Ford 289 V8. Andress sold the car to George Barris. The car was restored with a correct drivetrain by a later owner. When the car arrived at McDougall’s Carrera Automotive it had also been repainted black. Being that the original engine was lost to time 2 503 V8’s were located along with the dual carburettor intake from a 507. Both engines were made into a running engine with BMW AG making a new engine gasket kit including head gaskets at a cost of US$25,000. It was also returned to its original blue colour. It was sold at auction in 1997 for US$350,000 and at another auction in 2011 for US$1,072,500. John Surtees was given a 507 by Count Agusta for winning the 1956 500cc World Motorcycle Championship on a MV Agusta. Surtees worked with Dunlop to develop disc brakes for the front wheels of the 507, and his 507 eventually had disc brakes on all four wheels.

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And so to the brand new BMW. Across the street is another large building, called BMW Welt, which is like a massive showroom where BMW can showcase some of their latest products. You can talk to sales specialists here, but there is plenty also to provide entertainment for the whole family, with the hope that people will see this somewhat more akin to a tourist attraction than just a car showroom. Products of the entire BMW Group are presented here, which means not just those with a BMW badge, but also the Rolls Royce and the MINI.

Indeed the first cars I spotted were a couple of Rolls Royce models, with the open-topped Dawn joined by a special display for the new Phantom, the eight generation of car to bear the name.

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The latest i3S was here, a trendy city car with a big price tag, but apparently rather good to drive, I’ve yet to find out.

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There were plenty of examples of the 3 and 4 Series including an M4 Cabriolet in a rather distinctive paint finish, as well as a 4 Gran Coupe and the 3 GT.

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From the Crossover range, it was the latest X3 and X4 which attracted my camera.

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The 2 Series was represented by the Coupe model.

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The new M5 was attracting lots of interest. Technically very impressive, of course, and powerful beyond what it usable in everyday motoring, the latest car is fearsomely expensive, the car having moved up the price scale by some way as it has gained power (and arch rival the AMG E63 has done the same, of course).

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Another recent addition to the range is this 6 Gran Tourer, a slightly less awkward looking replacement for the gawky 5GT. In the era of the Crossover, I suspect it will sell no better though.

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A car you cannot buy yet is the new 8 Series, but this concept version hints strongly at what the new range-topping GT will look like.

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There were also a number of MINI models, with examples from the top and bottom of the range, a 3 door and Countryman JCW. Made to look large and space inefficient, they were joined by this classic “Issigonis” Cooper model.

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I was pleased that it was possible to fit this visit into what proved to be a very busy weekend. There is much to see, although there are museums which are more densely packed, so you may conclude – not unfairly, in my opinion, that the factory museums of dread rivals Mercedes and Audi are even more worthy of a visit, and I would not disagree. But for those who are interested in the history of what is now one the world’s volume yet still aspirational brands, learning more about how it all came about will prove to be a fascinating learning experience. Some of the displays are changed periodically, so it is worth returning after a reasonable time interval.

Full details of the museum can be found on the website:


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