BMW 700, the phoenix car for BMW with only 700cc
The headline should be something more like how to save a great car company from financial ruin by building a car with a 700cc engine that can also succeed in Motorsports. And here is the answer!!
BMW 700 Sport Vs BMW 700 RS
188211 BMW 700 were built between 1959 and 1965. You could acquire them in 3 versions: saloon, coupe and convertible. The model suffered no transformation at all during that time, just one variation in August 1960 to create a Sports version, it was not a full revamp though. What they created instead was a piece of art, the BMW 700 RS (where only 2 chassis were made), which was a fascinating racing modified version (pictured below) which gave the brand a lot of success and exposure. This 700 RS was a highly tuned version for racing. It had special, lightweight, aerodynamic bodywork and an engine tuned to 70 PS (69 hp/51 kW). Having said that, the main car driven in a lot races was the Sport model. This version had a set of improvements, as we said from August 1960, like with Solex carbs, an uprated engine and a rear anti-roll bar. The model was known as a BMW 700 Sport. Generally speaking the car was not massively different than the regular model. This BMW 700 Sport was renamed to BMW 700 CS in 1963 to differentiate from the regular one.
Best day for the BMW 700
Probably the sweetest moment for this model happened in 1962. Abarth was a competitor coming from Italy, BMW really wanted to compete with them and of course beat them. Angela Fontana driving a BMW 700 in Monza managed not only to win the race in their category (in front of the Tiffossi) but also to get the fastest lap. Not bad indeed to beat your competitor in their home, ha !
But how did BMW ended up there. Well, BMW was having a rough time financially. In December 1959, BMW shareholders blocked a proposal by BMW's supervisory board to merge BMW with the competitor Daimler-Benz. What created those financial problems? Part of the problem was the heavy investments made in order to produce the BMW 700. The brand showed the coupe and saloon versions of the 700 at the 1959 Frankfurt Motor Show and just after the show, BMW had 25,000 orders for the 700s. Due to that support, it was time to work for the clients. The production of the BMW 700 Coupe began in August 1959, with the saloon version following in December 1959. As mentioned above, in the summer of 1960 the Sport version started production and the 700 Cabriolet was introduced shortly after this 700 Sport. The beauty of the Cabriolet version is pretty simple, not only you can see the stars but also uses the Sport's 40 hp engine. Karosserie Baur of Stuttgart made the convertible body and only 2592 were made. This precise model (pictured below) is one of the most sought after of all the BMW 700 versions for obvious reasons.
The model was gathering so much momentum that by April 1960, BMW could produce 155 cars a day or if you want a new car every less than 10 minutes.
Another collector car will be one of the 4 assembled in 1963 in Israel with the BMW intention to transfer the rights to other countries, but no more cars were ever built internationally either.
By November 1965 production of the BMW 700 finished. BMW saw more demand for bigger cars than economy cars. As a matter of fact, the brand stopped producing small cars and it wasn’t until 2002 when they came back producing minis and getting back into “economy cars” again.
BMW 700 for sale
Even though there are huge price differences between models. If you want me to order them from more expensive to least, the CS comes first, then the convertible and finally the mighty coupe. A good RS could trade around $100.000 and a not great coupe should be valued in at least $10.000. All the rest of cars are somewhere in between.
Picture of the RS thanks to Stancey Works, the Cabrio thanks to fahrzeugbilder.de and the front image thanks to cartype.com