Showing posts with label BMW Classic Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BMW Classic Cars. Show all posts

BMW M1

BMW M1 1970s German classic supercar

The BMW M1 was race-based, to its beautifully-conceived core. It was made - by BMW Motorsport - as a response to the Porsche 935. BMW's CSL was by then past its sell-by date - and struggling to keep up with the Porsche. That was in the Group 5 Silhouette series. From BMW's point of view, the gap needed to be closed - lest race losses lead to the same on the balance-sheet! Cometh the M1 - and its M88 straight-six motor. The M1 was the first BMW roadster to be fitted with this race-bred powerplant. The cast-iron bottom-end was sourced from the BMW parts bin. In every other respect, it comprised state of the art engineering. The 24-valve twin-cam head was chain-driven. The crankshaft was fashioned from forged-steel. The M88 had longer conrods - and a race-derived dry sump. It was fed by Kugelfischer-Bosch indirect injection. The net result was a top speed for the M1 of 161mph. BMW were back on track!

Group 5 homologation made the M1 roadster resemble its racing counterpart - within reason, at least. 400 road-going 'equivalents' were required to be built, before the M1 racer be given the keys to the grid. Unfortunately for BMW, by the time the M1 was ready to go racing, the homologation rules had changed! The stipulation now was that 400 cars already have been sold. That threw a giant-sized spanner in the works - since that was liable to take a while, even for a company with the cachet of BMW. By the time it had complied with the new regs - in '81 - the M1 was no longer competitive! Not at the racetrack, that is. On the road, it was more than a match for most of its rivals. A tubular steel chassis - and mid-engined layout - provided near-perfect handling. The ride was comfort incarnate. Initially, Lamborghini had been asked to design the chassis. Mounting financial woes, though, at the Italian marque, meant BMW sorted their own chassis, in the end. Once done, a 5-speed ZF trans-axle transferred 277bhp to the tarmac. Massive vented disc brakes retarded the M1 with aplomb.

The M1's looks were seen to by Italdesign. The agency would, however, have been first to acknowledge the debt owed to the BMW Turbo - the prototype by Paul Bracq. Between the pair of them, the M1 was a masterclass in supercar styling. It was built in both Germany and Italy. Indeed, it may be said to have embodied the best of both realms. For all that, a mere 450 M1s were manufactured. A harsh critic, then, might judge it a failure. After all, it was no great shakes, either at circuits, or in showrooms. Saying that, the BMW M1 was still a hugely impressive sports car ... which surely smacks more of success than failure!

BMW 507

BMW 507 1950s German classic sports car

The BMW 507 was styled by Albrecht von Goertz. He was a German aristocrat - who owned an American industrial design agency. Goertz took the big box-section chassis of the BMW saloon car - and shortened it. The result was a more than tidy 2-seater. The 507 was an unabashed attempt to crack the American glamour market. Post-war, BMW had watched their brand-image slide into mediocrity. It was high time the great German manufacturer raised its profile again. The 507 was supposed to do just that. It was not to be. Only 253 BMW 507s were sold. To all intents and purposes, the 507 was automotive haute couture. But - as in the fashion industry - it costs gargantuan amounts to produce. The Second World War was not long gone. For most motorists, the 507 simply was not affordable.

The 507 got its well-heeled occupants from A to B with a minimum of fuss. Not that it could not push on, if required. Should you have been a tad late for the opera, for instance, a firm brogue on the go pedal would definitely get you there for curtain up. The 3-litre V8 engine gave 160bhp. That translated to 140mph, flat out. 0-60 came up in 9s. The sounds emitted from the 507's twin rear pipes were music to the ears. Even at speed, its ride was unflustered. Front and rear torsion-bar suspension saw to that.

The 507's detailing was exquisite. And not just the beautiful BMW badge. The cross-hatched heat-vents were a notable touch. They were matched by the car's kidney-shaped grille - a trademark BMW feature. The 507's front-end was almost shark-like - courtesy of its stylishly protruding nose. The long, flowing bonnet-line was complemented by a cute stub-tail. The 507 stayed in production for just four years. Consummately-crafted, it mated motoring and fine art. Ultimately, the 507 cost BMW more than it recouped. But then, what price do you put on perfection?

BMW 2002 Turbo

BMW 2002 Turbo 1970s German classic sports car

Sadly, the BMW 2002 Turbo was not a success in the showrooms. To be fair, the timing of its launch could not have been worse. In '73, petrol-pump prices almost doubled - because of the OAPEC fuel crisis. Motorists panicked. The 17mpg 2002 Turbo never stood a chance. BMW became very anxious, very quickly! In only the second year of its production run, the 2002 Turbo was dropped. Just 1,672 cars had been built. Bad luck, basically! In different economic circumstances, the car could have been a best-seller.

The 2002 Turbo was inspired by a BMW works racer. Its raison d'être was to breathe life back into BMW's entry-level saloon car slot. To that end, the Turbo's top speed stat of 130mph was bang on the automotive money. Peak output was 170bhp. The 2-litre 4-cylinder engine was fuel-injected. And was kitted out with a KKK turbocharger. At low to medium revs, there was little to split the Turbo and standard version 2002. That all changed, though, at 4,500rpm. When the boost kicked in, you knew about it. Thankfully, the Turbo had been prepped for the extra stress. It had beefier driveshafts and bearings than standard. Suspension spring rates were wound up. Bilstein dampers were fitted at the back. Anti-roll bars were fitted, fore and aft. Wheels were fat Mahle alloys - shod with Michelin XWX rubber. The front two were stopped by 4-pot ventilated disc brakes. Big drums brought up the rear.

The Turbo's gleaming paint-job - and racy decals - dazzled onlookers. Seventies chic, so to speak. The interior, too, was cut from the same glam cloth. Bucket seats were a snug fit. A bright-red instrument fascia focused attention. The turbo-boost gauge sat in the middle of the dash. A thick-rimmed 3-spoke sports steering-wheel topped it all off. Boy racer style, all the way. BMW's 2002 Turbo was the right car - at the wrong time. Ultimately, it could not get enough of what it needed most. The crippling cost of petrol, at the time, meant it simply could not survive!

BMW 3.0 CSL

BMW 3.0 CSL 1970s German classic sports car

The 'L' in BMW 3.0 CSL stood for Lightweight. It was a vital attribute. After all, the CSL was built to homologate BMW's 6-cylinder coupé - for European Touring Car Group 2 racing. To that end, the list of the CSL's super-light parts was a long one. There were skinny body panels, a fibreglass back bumper, and racing latches on the bonnet. In addition, the CSL had Plexiglas side-windows, and alloy-skinned opening panels. Interior trim, too, was grist to the weight-losing mill. In all, 400lb was shaved off the base model. Top speed for the super-svelte CSL was 135mph. Acceleration had sky-rocketed.

To accomodate the CSL's added 'grunt', BMW stiffened the suspension. Bilstein gas shock absorbers featured state-of-the-art progressive-rate springs. Alpina wheels were chunky 7″ alloys. Chrome wheel-arch extensions kept things street-legal. The first CSLs came with a 2,958cc engine. It was normally-aspirated - making 180bhp. In '72, BMW took the bore out to 3,003cc. That qualified the coupé to compete in the 3-litre Group 2 series. Output was upped to 200bhp. Bosch electronic injection was fitted - replacing twin Zenith carburettors.

Up until '72, CSLs were left-hand drive. But, that year saw a right-hand drive option released in the UK. Described as the 'RHD City package', the car had performance and comfort in abundance. For this model, BMW restored most of the weight-saving features they had so painstakingly removed. Some British buyers still managed to find fault. They found the Scheel bucket seats difficult to get into. And the light alloy panels - still part of the bodywork - were too prone to accident damage, they said. Nor was the CSL's price tag to every Brit's taste. Both an Aston Martin and Jensen set them back less. To be fair, only 1,095 cars were sold globally. Ultimately, though, the BMW 3.0 CSL was an 'homologation special'. Certainly, the CSL racing coupés went on to be a roaring success!