From turbo injection to sustainable energy, BMW engineering has inspired and motivated the automobile industry since its first four-wheeler rolled off the production line in 1929. With the imminent launch of the super-green i3 due, here’s a look at some of BMW’s many influential hallmark vehicles…
A truly revolutionary sports car, the BMW 328 was manufactured between 1936 and 1940. Wowing motorsports fans with its bold curvaceous aerodynamic design and lightweight aluminium chassis, it debuted at the legendary Nurburgring with multi-land speed record breaking driver Enrst Henne and went on to win over 120 races.
Widely recognised as one of the most iconic formative sports cars, its shape, drive and engineering were aped by almost every other manufacturer possible. Madly only 464 were ever made but each one will never be forgotten.
You could argue the 501 should be on this list. But, as the first BMW to roll off the production line post World War 2 there were one or teething problems with its manufacture. When it eventually did arrive (in 1951) the four-door saloon was warmly received thanks to its instant air of luxury. Innovations included its four-speed separate shaft-driven gearbox (allowing for extra passenger leg room) and its powerful M337 engine.
However the 502 (launched in 1954) outshined its predecessor thanks to its chrome finishes and, more importantly, its powerful V8 engine. Hitting 100 horsepower it was regarded as Germany’s fastest saloon during its existence and set a benchmark for domestic cars moving into the future.
BMW 2002 Turbo
The timing of the 2002 couldn’t have been worse if BMW tried… The first fuel injected motor arrived at the very same time as the 70s oil crisis. That didn’t stop developments, though, and the small-but-feisty two door saloon eventually became famed as Europe’s first turbocharged production car. Clocking uip 0-60mph in just under seven seconds its engineering gave the entire performance car a boost. Literally.
BMW E30 M3
Like its 328 forefather, the M3’s roots are plainly rooted to the sports track. Growling with a 2.5litre S14 engine it boasted over 250 horsepower its innovations included the suspension system’s solid rubber offset control arm bushings, fine-tuned front and rear break calipers and distinctive box flare wheel arches. Winning myriad touring car championships and rally accolades, echoes of the E30 M3 can still be found in many sports models to this day.
BMW i3 Electric
None of the innovations or developments above match that of the forthcoming BMW i3. An unarguable leader amongst all new 2014 cars, the i3 is driven by an emission-free electric motor that’s powered by lithium ion battery which is countered by the car’s super lightweight chassis. Made wholly of carbon-fibre it’s the first production car of its kind to be manufactured in this way. Its compact aesthetic is designed with the city… And naturally its green credentials mean you don’t have to pay a penny driving through Congestion Zones!