Bmw at Techno Classica: highlights from 90 years of hystory

The BMW brand is celebrating its 90th birthday at the Techno Classica 2007. Selected highlights, such as the BMW 507 and the BMW Turbo study, provide impressive evidence of technological expertise, ground-breaking design and innovative power as traditional mainstays of the brand. The cars, motorcycles and aero engines on show span the entire history of BMW – from the BMW IV aero engine to today’s BMW M6. Plus, BMW Group Mobile Tradition charts the history of the company’s Convertibles from the 1930s to the new BMW 3 Series Convertible under the banner “Bracing Breeze Worldwide. BMW 3 Series Convertibles.”

The BMW brand is celebrating its 90th birthday at the Techno Classica 2007 show. Together with the Mini Clubs and BMW Clubs, the BMW Group is once again presenting its three brands in Hall 12 at the world’s largest vintage car show, which runs from 29th March to 1st April. Awaiting visitors is a multi-faceted exhibition which includes some 70 vehicles from throughout the history of the Group.

90 years of innovation

The main theme of the BMW stand this year is the brand’s 90th birthday. One of the cars on view at the Techno Classica is the BMW 303, which was the first BMW model to sport the hallmark BMW kidney design and represented the brand’s entry into mid-range car construction in the 1930s. The BMW 303 also laid the foundations for the long tradition of BMW in-line six-cylinder engines.

The next chapter in this sporting tradition is presented at the Techno Classica in the shape of the BMW 327/328 Coupé, the first genuine sports coupé from BMW. The long front end and smoothly sloping rear – not to mention the car’s sporty 80-hp engine – captured the imagination of press and public alike from the outset.

Another highlight from the history of Bayerische Motoren Werke is the BMW 507, whose design was the work of Albrecht Graf Goertz and whose 150-hp V8 engine made it one of the sportiest roadsters of its time. Between 1955 and 1959 this exclusive car found 251 select owners. Many car enthusiasts still rank it as one of the most beautiful BMW models of all time. Today, the BMW 507 is among the most coveted and valuable vintage cars on the market.

After the Second World War, the “New Class” – and specifically the BMW 1800 TI/SA – continued the tradition established by BMW’s pre-war cars with its typical BMW attributes of quality and sportiness. The self-supporting all-steel body, McPherson-strut front suspension and diagonal swing rear axle set new standards in the 1960s and demonstrated once again the innovative power of Bayerische Motoren Werke.

BMW has taken on the status of a technological leader, driving developments forwards and demonstrating a firm commitment to innovations which both provide benefits for customers and reinforce the claim of the brand. In 1972 BMW caused quite a stir with its BMW Turbo study – a technological nerve centre packed with innovations which have since gradually found their way into series production and are now fundamental elements of today’s cars. The BMW Turbo introduced the automotive world of the early 1970s to new directions in passive safety, design and, not least, driver assistant systems.

At the same time, BMW began development of an internal combustion engine which could be powered by hydrogen. BMW is showing its first hydrogen car at the Techno Classica – a BMW 520, whose four-cylinder powerplant could run on hydrogen by the late 1970s. Last year the brand presented a milestone in hydrogen technology in the form of the BMW Hydrogen7.

However, before BMW enjoyed its initial breakthrough as a car-maker, innovative technology and sporting success had already secured its motorcycles an international reputation and worldwide popularity. Like the brand’s cars, BMW motorcycles were often ahead of their time. In 1923, while its rivals were still basing their designs heavily on bicycles, BMW presented the R32 – a motorbike that not only celebrated sporting glory but also boasted impressive styling, thanks to its construction as if cut “from a single mould”.

In 1938 the 60-hp BMW Kompressor was Europe’s most successful racing machine, with a top speed of 210 km/h. Indeed, the bike’s inherent power soon propelled BMW works rider Georg Meier to the European Championship title.

In 1951 the high maximum speed and impressive equipment levels of the sporting BMW R68 underlined the ambitions of the Munich-based brand to return to the global summit. It was known, with a certain awe, as the “Rolls Royce of motorcycles”.

BMW is showing the R75/5 at the Techno Classica – a representative of the /5 series, which helped the company to inject ground-breaking impetus into the world of motorcycling in the late 1960s and build on the brand’s tradition as a pioneering force in motorcycle construction. With innovative new features, such as light-alloy cylinders and a crankshaft forged from a single part, the R75/5 – produced from 1969 to 1973 – set new technical standards in motorcycle construction.

The sensation of 1988 was the BMW K1, presented at the IFMA show in Cologne that September. At last BMW now had its long-awaited four-valve super-sports model on the road. The design of the BMW K1, as well as its raft of new technical features, pointed the way to the future.

BMW is bridging the gap to the 21st century at the Techno Classica with the K 1200 R. Presented in 2005, the “high-end muscle bike” is still the world’s most powerful naked bike. With its state-of-the-art four-cylinder engine developing 163 hp/120 kW, a chassis set up without compromise to deliver peerless, awe-inspiring dynamics, innovations such as Duolever and ESA, and an advanced power supply, the K 1200 R represents the clear benchmark in the high-performance sports roadster segment.

On road and off, BMW motorcycles have tasted success in every type of competition over the last eight decades. From the R37, R5 and R68 to the latest K 1200 R, the transfer of technical expertise from racing to series production allows BMW Motorrad to constantly channel this dynamic prowess into its volume models. Digital engine electronics, ABS and closed-loop catalytic converters are all BMW innovations, as are single-sided swing arm rear suspension and telelever front-wheel suspension.

BMW Motorsport

BMW road cars also reap the benefits of technology bred for motor sport. At the Techno Classica show, racing machines like this year’s BMW Sauber F1.07 Formula One contender and the BMW 320i WTCC – the victorious car in the 2005 World Touring Car Championship – forge a link between the race track and the road. The BMW 328 Kamm coupé, meanwhile, reveals the roots of motor sport. The car was named after Professor Wunibald Kamm, a pioneer in aerodynamics. Prof. Kamm was a key figure in the design of the body for this racing sports car, which was built specially for the Mille Miglia 1940. The 328 Kamm coupe was ahead of its time, and not just because of its space frame and aluminium body. Cajoling the standard 80-hp production engine into developing 136 hp for the racing car was a fine achievement. And an overall weight of 760 kg is still impressively light by today’s standards.

Bracing Breeze Worldwide. BMW 3 Series Convertibles.

Distinctive design, a unique identity and undiluted dynamics are the stand-out virtues of the open-top BMW 3 Series. And BMW Mobile Tradition is celebrating the launch of the new 3 Series Convertible with its “Bracing Breeze Worldwide. BMW 3 Series Convertibles.” campaign highlighting the development and success of the 3 Series Convertible. One of the BMW models on show at the Techno Classica is the founding father of the brand’s sporty Convertible tradition. The BMW 315 drop-top saloon represented the company’s first car capable of reaching the then magical 100 km/h-mark back in 1936.

Another model at the BMW stand is a 320/6 Baur Targa, a Topcabriolet version of the BMW 3 Series with roll-over bar supplied by the Baur company. This allowed Baur to offer open-top driving pleasure in a BMW 3 Series at a time when there was no convertible version available from the factory. Today, the Baur Convertible conversions are sought-after collector’s items.

Meanwhile, BMW Mobile Tradition has come up with a collector’s item of a very different kind to mark the 30th birthday of the BMW 3 Series Convertible: an original Bubmobil model of a BMW Baur Convertible in a limited run of 700 units.

BMW has pursued an uncompromising commitment to the design excellence of the 3 Series Convertibles since day one. Making concessions in form to serve the interests of mechanics has always been anathema to the open-top 3, and never more so than in the case of the first works-built BMW 3 Series Convertible of 1986. In 1988 BMW brought an M3 Convertible onto the market for the first time as a treat for speed merchants with a soft spot for softtops. The new model was powered by a 200-hp four-cylinder powerplant and is also on display at the Techno Classica.

The new BMW 3 Series Convertible, launched in 2007 at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), continued the tradition built up by these sporty and elegant cars. The flat shoulderline, set-back seating position and short windscreen ensure man and nature are never far apart. An automatically folding hardtop roof, meanwhile, is celebrating its 3 Series Convertible premiere, and is fitted as standard in place of the softtop construction of previous models.

Parts supply has traditionally been included in the BMW stand and this year is no different. A BMW Z1 is used as an example of how the company supports brand aficionados and collectors of BMW vehicles. As every year, representatives from the BMW Group Archives are on hand to answer visitors’ questions about the history of the brand and the company. And for those waiting impatiently for the new BMW Museum to open its doors, BMW Mobile Tradition has put together a model of the Museum complex.

As every year, the BMW Clubs set up at the show alongside the brand’s own stand. This year’s theme of “Recent Classics” showcases vehicles from the past three decades. Lovingly cared for by their owners, these models from the brand’s relatively recent past are on the way to becoming highly desirable vintage cars.