Sports luxury. These were the guidelines used in creating the BMW 503 coupe, fitted with a 3168cc, V8 engine with 140cv and a maximum speed of 190km/h. Destined for a limited circle of high-range drivers, it was the right car at the wrong moment, in other words, it aimed at a rather too restricted sector of the market at a moment when the European economy was not yet in full boom and there was also exceptional competition, for example, the legendary Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, which had killed the market.
With its small, square and Teutonic lines, even though the designer, Giovanni Michelotti, was Italian, the 700 came in three different versions: sedan, coupe and cabriolet in order to ‘capture’ the maximum number of customers. A car in the economy range, it marked the German brand’s revival and led to the chance of dedicating itself to more luxurious models. The bodywork was made of light but resistant metal, it had a 697cc boxer engine and a capacity of 30cv deriving from a motorcycle engine and a maximum speed of 120km/h.
The early 1980s were the years of the company’s regeneration. One of the best models of the period was the 1500 which inaugurated the Neue Klasse. Destined for medium-high range customers, the bodywork was designed by Giovanni Michelotti and Wilhelm Hofmeister with the characteristic sombre and serious look and only 80cv that were, however, still able to power the car to 148km/h.
The sports side was represented in the ‘70s by a large number of models including the E12, the predecessor of the series 5 and produced to target the high-end of the market. At the time of the launch, the model 520, with 1990cc, 4-cylinder carburettor and 115 cv, and a more aggressive version, the 502i with Kugelfisher mechanical injection and 130 cv, were available.
The next step between the end of the 1970s and beginning of the ‘80s, was to focus on supercars. The first one was the brilliant M1 with its fibreglass bodywork designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro that totally broke away from the aesthetic philosophy followed up until then. Fitted with a 3453cc, 6-cylinder engine, it had a capacity of 277cv and maximum speed of 262km/h, going from 0 to 100km/h in just 5.6 seconds.