Friday, August 24, 2012

Nostalgic Subcompact: BMW 700S

1961 BMW 700S race car
As we do each year, my father and I attended the Portland Historic Races at Portland International Raceway. One of the reasons I love this event so much is the wide breadth of vehicles they race. Everything from vintage micro cars to ground-pounding V8s, and even old F-1 cars. Each year I see vehicles I am unfamiliar with, and this was one of them. The car above is a 1961 BMW 700S, obviously in racing livery, and was at the Historics this year.

The 700 was a rear drive, rear engined vehicle available in coupe, sedan, and convertible body styles. They were powered by an air-cooled 697 flat two-cylinder engine. They were offered from 1957–1965, and are fairly rare to see in the U.S. As I understand it, the 700 was considered an economy car—and was the last economy car BMW sold until the 2002 MINI.

The car was popular in motorsports, even though original horsepower output was only 40 horsepower with the twin-carb setup on the Sport models. (Then again, many cars of this time period made very little power. Thing VW Beetle, think MG, etc.) Notable performances include Hans Stuck winning the 1960 German Hillclimb Championship, as well a a class victory in 1960 at the Hockenheim 12 Hour race.

I love the styling on this car. The smallish fins out back, the raked rear window, the protruding headlights. To the untrained eye, it could be some wonky air-cooled VW vehicle. The Mini-Lite wheels  are the prefect touch to this little vintage racer.

Every now and then, one of these cars pops up for sale. There have been a few of them on, such as this Unrestored 1960 BMW 700S Coupe. And although it is hard to see the actual size of one of these in the photo, they are tiny.


Ducati Scotty said...

That 700 looks a lot like a VW Notchback to me. Even more so when you look in the engine compartment.

Andy Lilienthal said...

... and that's what I thought it was at first glance. Then I thought it might have been an early '60s 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Here's a pic for comparison.