The BMW 700 was a small rear-engined car produced by BMW in various models from August 1959 to November 1965, and was the first BMW automobile with a monocoque structure. The 700 was a sales success at a time when BMW was close to financial ruin, and was also successful in its class in motorsport, both in its stock form and as the basis of a racing special called the 700RS. The first variant of the 700 to appear after the original coupe and saloon was the 700 Sport in August 1960. Available only as a coupe, the Sport used an updated engine with a pair of Solex carburetors and a 9.0:1 compression ratio bringing its power output to 40 horsepower (30 kW). The Sport also had a rear anti-roll bar and a ribbed oil pan that was used to reduce the oil temperature of the more powerful engine. BMW introduced a 700 Cabriolet shortly after the 700 Sport, featuring the Sport’s 40 horsepower engine and a body Karosserie Baur of Stuttgart. More than a total of 188,000 BMW 700s were sold before production ended in November 1965, and only 2,592 were cabriolets. Upon discontinuing the 700, BMW left the economy car market and did not return for many years until 2002, when they began to reproduce the Mini-Cooper.
-On loan from The Mike Malamut personal collection
The 700 marks an odd chapter in BMW history, but it was also a lifesaver for them.
Like a lot of European cars in the post-war era, the 700 featured a rear-mounted engine that powered the rear wheels. Only one engine was used: a tiny 697cc flat 2-cylinder. Fortunately, with the balance and handling that a rear-engine provides, coupled with a relatively low curb weight of just 1,500 lbs., these were capable little cars. They were used in motorsport racing and did very well.
Styling is courtesy of Giovanni Michelotti, who would later design the iconic BMW 2002. Although the grille-less front is slightly off-putting, the overall shape is nicely handled. Note the ever-so-slight tail fins, rare on European cars. Europeans were never keen on the American styling cue. The compact “bathtub” proportions, thin pillars and plentiful greenhouse glass are signs of good things to come from BMW, however.
Inside, the interior has a minimalist deco-mod vibe, with a matching body color dashboard and neatly detailed steering wheel.
The 700 rescued BMW and provided much needed sales of 188,000 units, breathing new life into the company and guaranteeing them a future in the auto making business. Building upon the microcar 600 chassis, the 700 was actually BMW’s last economy car before they produced the MINI Cooper. It was the last economy car with their name on it. This New Class cars of the late 60s had a better profit margin and moved the whole brand upscale.
The final development of the 700 was the 700 LS Coupe of 1964. This was a long-wheelbase coupe with the Sport engine. 1,730 LS Coupes were built.
-Part of the Mike Malamut Collection
The Glas GT was a sports coupé produced by Hans Glas GmbH at Dingolfing. The car was first presented as the Glas 1300 GT in September 1963 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
With the BMW acquisition of the Glas company, the GT was refitted to accommodate the 1,573 cc BMW engine already fitted in the BMW 1600. The BMW “new class” models introduced in 1962 had attracted press comment concerning the fact that the engine was canted over at an angle of 30 degrees from the vertical plane, permitting a lower bonnet/hood line. This feature was retained when the engine was fitted in the Glas GT body to create what was now branded as the BMW 1600GT. By using the BMW engine, the car also acquired a further increase in power output, now up to 105HP. Handling was improved by applying the BMW’s relatively sophisticated semi-trailing arm rear axle with coil springs in place of the more old fashioned rigid rear axle and leaf spring configuration previously employed by the Glas GT. BMW also took the opportunity to fit “new” round rear lights from 1966 featured on the BMW 1602. Front grill as also reconfigured to incorporate the BMW “twin kidney” grill.
-Part of the Mike Malamut Collection