The first post-war years were extremely difficult for BMW. The production facilities were almost completely destroyed and most of them were left behind the Iron Curtain, ie in East Germany. Although production began immediately, BMW could not be marketed. If we forget the production of motorcycles, which by itself was not enough to sustain the factory economically, the production of cars simply did not produce good enough results. Far from being poor or poor quality, BMW cars were poorly positioned and tactically developed for a market that could not buy them.
The best example of this claim is the famous 501 ("Baroque Angel") or 507 roadster sedan (which we wrote about) that had advanced aluminum V8 engines and a huge price tag that was unthinkable for post-war Germany. In addition, the company's global reputation alone was not strong enough for such cars to succeed worldwide. Realizing the message, BMW dropped the cute Isetta and the 700, which were small and cheap cars but still too frivolous and weak to appeal to a wide range of customers and to generate enough profit to keep the factory afloat .
In this situation, BMW welcomed 1960. Rumors of a poor financial situation at home have been joined by stories of shutting down production and even taking over the factory by Mercedes. The rescue came in the form of two well-known industrialists, Harald and Herbert Quandt, who have invested fresh capital in the company and, through their influence, started working on a new model. Although the Quandt family had a dubious past and had always been accompanied by rumors of cooperation with the Nazis, at that moment it did not matter and Germany wanted new victories rather than a reminder of the terrible past.
According to their idea, the new cars should be a compact sedan, quality drive, cheap enough and accessible to customers but not as a bottom-line market but as its middle class. Just because the new model could not be completely classified into any existing segment, the project was called the “Neue Klasse” or a new class. Development began instantaneously and by the end of 1961, the BMW 1500 was introduced to the world public. The audience was delighted with the new and elegant design, the dynamic and compact sedan and as many as 20 orders arrived at the factory. Unfortunately, due to its modest production volume, BMW simply did not have enough capacity, so the first specimens were shipped a year later.
The BMW 1500 was a complete success, both from an economic point of view and from a mechanical-technical point of view. Durable and powerful, the four-cylinder engine with 80 hp provided satisfactory, even sporty performance. Two years later (in the fall of 1963), the 1800 model was introduced. It was a slightly larger car with a stronger 102 hp engine that was more luxurious and expensive and well received by the market. Based on this model, both 1800ti and 1800ti / s variants were made. The first was a sports variant developed by Dr. Rudolf Bovensiepen (founder of the tuning house Alpina) and the other was an unhidden race car, made in only 200 pieces, which had 130 hp (at the time, a fantastic number).
However, the best was yet to come and in March 1966 at the Geneva Motor Show, BMW introduced a new model called the 1600. It was modern and compact, with room for four passengers that had an engine of 1600 cc and 94 hp. In particular, the new model's full name was 1600-02, where the second digit indicated the door number, while the internal, factory designation was E10. That's why the new BMW has become known as the "Series 2" or just "02" and those names will accompany this model until the end of production. The public as well as the specialized press immediately accepted the car, which proved to be very agile, starting and high quality.
Sales instantly jumped and "02" was making pace at 150 a day, and for the first time a substantial part of production went overseas, to America, where this model was named the best sports sedan in the car category up to $ 4500 (the price in Germany was DM 8500).
With stable sales, growing popularity and a growing circle of fans, BMW has started thinking about sports versions. The 1600-02 provided plenty of room for improvement and BMW engineers set to work. As early as 1966, the "2000" version was introduced, which had an engine of 2 liters and 100 hp and which had serious performance for that period. Somewhat later, the 2000 ti and 2000 tilux models were introduced. The first had two dual carburetors and 120 hp and managed to break the track record at the Ninburgrinug in the production model class while the second was oriented towards luxury with an interior in wood and leather and an optional automatic transmission.
Perfromance versions have left their mark on tracks around the world. From the hands of Alpina, as well as many unknown tuners as well as the racing department of BMW itself, came the top sports cars that used to run the runways and rallies in those years. While fighting on the track against competitors from a "civilian" market such as Alfa Romeo or Lancia, the BMW 2000 was the most likely to win, especially if it fell into the hands of renowned German champion Duiter Quester. Also worth mentioning are a number of racing 02s that rode on our tracks as well.
At the beginning of 1968, a convertible was presented, which was made in the Baur body shop and which was made in only 1682 copies in the period 1968-1971. This version was much more expensive than the standard model and it is understandable that it was less popular so its limited production should come as no surprise.
After that, came the "targa" version in which the rear part of the roof could be folded while the roof panel was placed in the trunk. This model proved to be somewhat more popular and remained in production until 1975.
In 1969, another sports model called the 2000 Tii was introduced. Unlike the "you" model, this car had a Kuglefischer mechanical fuel injection (the first BMW with this assembly) and 130 hp. It was a very sophisticated car, by market standards of the time, and very fast and some say it is the ancestor of the future M3.
In the early 2s, "Series XNUMX" entered the "golden autumn" of its production. In addition to all sports and speed oriented versions, BMW has not forgotten a customer who primarily wants comfort and convenience, so he promoted the Touring variant, that is, a three-door model, a sloping rear and a larger boot, with all the units on offer.
Following fashion, all models in this series have been aesthetically modernized with front-facing changes and square-shaped stop lights instead of round ones. A slight change came in the name, so all models were added number 2 in the name. (1602, 2002…).
However, the development of the BMW 02 was not complete, and what followed was the ultimate version, uncompromising power and speed. Specifically, the early 02s brought about an oil crisis that was best felt by sports model makers. In order to reduce consumption and keep performance, modern technology has been the key. After various experiments with turbochargers, BMW engineers have decided to create a road model that should show the benefits of this engine and show what the limits of the "XNUMX" really are.
In 1973, the BMW 2002 Turbo was shown to the public, which, in addition to the fantastic engine, had a specific exterior with specials, vacuum cleaners and rims. Power was around 170bhp, a huge number for the time, and the acceleration was brutal. This unit was obtained by mounting a KKK turbocharger on a standard 2000 cc engine. In a lightweight body, the BMW 2002 Turbo was a great car to drive. However, the "childhood illnesses" of the turbo engine were visible and a pioneering attempt, but despite all this, the BMW 2002 turbo was an exceptional machine. Unfortunately, the thrash reacted poorly, both because of the price, which was due to fear of powerful horses and an unremarkable turbo boost, so only 1672 cars saw the light of day. All specimens were white and the anecdote remained why the words "2002" and "Turbo" on the front spoiler were spelled wrong? To let the driver of the BMW 2002 Turbo headlamp in the rearview mirror know which car to visit…
The following year, the "Series 2" goes out and takes its place, the new Series 3 E21, after more than 350 pieces of "000" made by 02. Still, the significance of this model for BMW is incredible. In addition to allowing the famous factory to continue operating, "1974" in all its versions has made this name known worldwide. If it weren't for this series, BMW would definitely not exist today and not have the reputation of a sporty elegance and dynamics maker, provided by this particular model. Because of all this and great racing success, the place of the "Neue Klasse" in the history of motoring is guaranteed ...
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