40 Years of BMW mid-sized coupes

A tribute to BMW’s mid-sized coupes from the 1996 1
602 to the all new 5th generation 2006 E90 335i Coupe

1602-2002: Beginning of a new automotive era, The 02 1966-1976

On 7 March 1966 the BMW AG celebrated its 50th anniversary. On this particular day, Gerhard Wilcke, the then Chairman of the Board, presented to the guests invited to the Bayerische Staatsoper a new model, the BMW 1600-2.

Being smaller and more stylish than the then-current New Class saloon models, this new model served as a basis for the model range from then on. The 4 centimetre lower roof, the somewhat flatter windscreen, the round headlights and the circular taillights accentuated the car’s dynamics and sportiness. But presumably only a few of the guests noticed these design cues at first glance, as this new saloon had a much more striking feature: It had only two doors, a feature to which the model owes part of its model designation (–2).

Apart from very few details, the interior of this new model was, technologically speaking, on par with the previous four-door BMW 1600, the production of which ceased simultaneously: It was powered by a four-cylinder engine displacing 1,573 cc and producing a maximum output of 85 bhp. As is the case with all BMW models produced at that time, the engine, which was inclined by 30 degrees, was front-mounted. The suspension combining an A-arm front axle and a semi-trailing arm rear axle was also derived from the “New Class”. The braking system was highly advanced and efficient with disc brakes at the front, a feature which had so far been reserved for upmarket automobiles or sports cars. The 1600-2 was not exactly what you would call cheap. At DM 8,650, the entry-level model’s price corresponded to the annual income of an employee. What customers did get for their money was a state-of-the-art car with a total weight of 940 kg, offering a formidable power/weight ratio. The 0-62 mph sprint took about 13 seconds, and with a top speed of 166 km/h (103 mph) it was one of the fastest cars at that time.

The concept was much more promising for the future than initially expected by critics and dreamt of by its supporters. Thus, for example, some Munich dealers, who doubted this concept’s success, kept asking: “Who’s going to buy this car?” Their customers soon taught them otherwise: In the first production year BMW manufactured as many as 13,244 units. In 1967, the four-door car’s production volume of 38,572 units almost exceeded the production figures pertaining to the four-door version with 39,930 units produced.

Whilst young people were revolting all around the globe in 1968, a new “small” BMW caused a sensation among automotive enthusiasts of all ages: The 2002, the ultimate sports saloon for many years to come. The 2002 was available at a price of DM 9,250. Under the bonnet there was a 2-litre engine producing 100 bhp, giving the car a top speed of 170 km/h (106 mph). As many as 339,092 units came off the production line until production was ceased in 1975, thereby raking in the lion’s share of profits made by the 02 Series. However, in 1973 the 2002 turbo with 170 bhp caused an even bigger stir. It was the first German production car to be equipped with a turbocharger.

This top-class model of the 02 Series reached its top speed at 210 km/h (130 mph) while 0-100 km/h came in just 7,3 sec. The 2002 Turbo was available for ten months exclusively in white and silver.

E21: The first 3 Series 1975-1982

Expectations were high when BMW unveiled the first 3 Series in Munich’s Olympia stadium in the summer of1975. BMW opened a new chapter with the launch of the 3 Series. Technologically speaking, the 3 Series was the result of a further development of the 02 Series. Although, from outside, it bore resemblance to the 5 Series, its character was completely unique. A characteristic feature of the new two-door car was its distinct wedge-shape design, which was much disputed by the public at the beginning. The designers also trod new paths as far as the interior was concerned: The cockpit design celebrated its premiere, including the centre console angled towards the driver, a typical feature of the BMW interior for many years to come.

And yet again, gloom was foretold for this BMW model series when it was launched. But again customers reacted positively: In the category of up to 2 litres cubic capacity, the BMW 320 was voted the world’s best saloon by the readers of Europe’s biggest car magazine in 1976. The 3 Series outperformed the 02 Series in every respect: In May 1981, the 1,000,000th 3 Series vehicle came off the production line, making the 3 Series the most successful BMW model series of all times

E30: The 2nd generation – also available with a diesel engine or an all-wheel drive 1982-1991 (Coupe)

In the autumn of 1982, the second generation of the 3 Series replaced the previous models. By the end of the first production year BMW had already sold 233,782 new 3 Series cars. At that time, however, the real attraction had not yet even been released. In the autumn of 1983, the 3 Series featuring four doors hit the showrooms. The small BMW class had already attracted a considerable number of customers who very much approved of the car’s improved fuel economy and increased comfort as a complement to its sporting performance. Thus, in 1985, BMW dared to take the next step with the launch of the 325iX and the 324d. Above all, the six-cylinder diesel engine with a peak power of 86 bhp quickly gained the reputation of being the diesel engine offering the most excellent running smoothness in the entire market.

In 1986, BMW presented the 3 Series Convertible, the first fully open four-seater from Germany for 11 years. With this awesome convertible BMW created once again a trendsetter on four wheels, soon to be followed by the next one: In August 1987, BMW presented to the public a small touring. This utility and sports car has not only been most successful with customers who frequently transport bulky goods, but also with all other groups of buyers simply due to its attractive appearance.

The ultimate "3" was of course the first ever M3. Equiped with a 4cylinder engine, the first generation M3 produced 200 Hp. Latter, BMW debuted two revised versions, the EVO II with 215 Hp and the EVO III with a 2.5 litre engine and 238 Hp - 0-100 km/h in 6,5 sec & top speed of 248 km/h.

E36: The 3rd generation with five body variants 1992-1999

In 1990, the third generation 3 Series, a four-door saloon, was put on the market, gradually followed by the coupé, convertible compact and a touring. When this model series reached its pinnacle at the end of the ’90s, customers could choose from five body variants and ten different engines, the spectrum ranging from a four-cylinder diesel engine delivering 66 kW/90 bhp to a high-tech six-cylinder engine on the revised M3 with a maximum output of 236 kW/321 bhp. The E36 M3 was equiped with a 3.0 286 Hp engine that was latter replaced with a more powerfull 3.2 litre 321 Hp engine -0-100 km/h in 5,5 sec & top speed 250 km/h (electronicaly limited)

E46: The 4th generation 1999-2006
In May 1998, the current BMW 3 Series, which was even more comfortable, safer and more powerful, was launched, first of all in the form of a four-door saloon, with the coupe versions following in 1999.

And it created a great sensation when it was revealed to the public: The 320d made its debut as BMW’s first direct injection diesel engine with a maximum output of 100 kW/136 bhp, a top speed of 207 km/h (129 mph) and a fuel consumption of 5.7 litres. Owing to its running smoothness in particular, it outperformed all its competitors in its class. Toping of the range was once again the all mighty M3 equiped with a 3.2 straight six producing 343 Hp 0-100 km/h 5,2 sec, top speed 250 km/h (electronicaly limited)


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Random thoughts: The Frankenstein car age

Random thoughts: The Frankenstein car age

BY the mid 90’s, MPV’s and SUV’s had taken the world by surprise, forcing even moderate companies such as Mercedes and Porsche to succumb in the temptation of presenting a proposal to meet their car lusting consumers needs.

So what if an MPV owner used his car’s seven seats less frequent than a pig takes a bath. Who cares if the most difficult obstacle that a 21’’ rim SUV will pass is the pavement of its owner’s front yard. All that matters is the feeling of uniqueness that these vehicles give to their owners. However, fashion brings sales and sales, saturation.

So now, people think: “Is it worth giving up good road manners and mild consumption for, limited or even worse, zero, exploitation of my SUV’s or MPV’s capabilities? From the moment that sales eliminated the image factor, the answer is NO.

The automobile world has taken the message and its getting ready for the future with a new bread of models. Following the example of geneticists, car industries found the answer in mixing various car-DNA characteristics in order to create myriads of subcategories that promise to satisfy consumers most boldest dreams with the least possible compromises.

The latest example of this category-mixing up philosophy is the European Ford S-MAX with DNA from MPV and hot hatchbacks. Ooh and don’t forget the American Jeep Patriot and Compass models that supplement the Cherokee in Jeep’s triad (!) of compact SUV’s. One is more stylish, one is more capable off road and the other is … well, I believe even they don’t know what the heck it is.

As this is just the dawn of the Frankenstein car age, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I saw BMW for example, bringing its Z18 concept to life, adding a pint of MPV versatility and a electric folding metal roof top, thus creating the worlds first coupe-cabrio -MPV –SUV called the ZXM 4…But wait, didn’t Chevrolet sort of beat them to that with the "highly succesful" SSR...?

Don’t know about you, but seems to me that car manufactures are trying to make something like a horseradish flavoured, pink coloured, square watermelon…

BMW C.L.E.V.E.R. Concept

BMW just released official pictures of its co-developed three-wheeled, natural-gas powered micro-car called CLEVER (Compact Low Emission VEhicle for URban Transport). Although nothing official yet, but this concept that was funded by the European Commission (Fifth Framework Programme) could base the C1 successor, marrying the worlds of cars and motorcycles. Partners in the C.L.E.V.E.R project included:
  • BMW
  • Technical University of Berlin, Institute for Land and Sea Transport (TUB), Berlin, Germany
  • Cooper-Avon Tyres Ltd, Melksham, Great Britain
  • ARC Leichtmetall Kompetenzzentrum Ranshofen GmbH (LKR), Ranshofen, Austria
  • IFP
  • TAKATA-PETRI AG, Berlin, Germany
  • University of Bath, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Institute for Power Transmission and Motion Control, Bath, Great Britain
  • Universität für Bodenkultur Vienna, Institute of Transport, Vienna, Austria
  • WEH GmbH, Illertissen, Germany

The CLEVER concept, a €3.3 million (US$3.9 million) effort, is an enclosed two-seater that combines the safety of a microcar, and the maneuverability of a motorcycle, while being less polluting than other vehicles as it runs on compressed natural gas.

Its strengthened frame will protect the driver in a crash and the vehicle will have a top speed of approximately 50 mph. The 230cc BMW engine—modified by Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) to use natural gas—produces 12.5 kW (17 hp) of power and maximum torque of 15.5 Nm at 6,300 rpm.

Fuel consumption is estimated to be 2.4 liters/100 km gasoline equivalent (98 mpg US), with 59.5 g/km of CO2 emissions. The compressed natural gas is stored in two removable gas bottles providing a range of 150 km (93 miles).

A problem with three-wheel vehicles with a symmetrical wheel layout is the tipping moment when cornering, which cannot be controlled at high speeds if the vehicle has a short wheelbase. To solve this problem the vehicle’s center of gravity can be moved towards the center of the corner—just as a motorcycle does when it corners.

The do this, the vehicle is a cabin tilter, with the system designed by the University of Bath. The cabin with the front wheel is connected to the power unit and the two rear wheels by a pivot bolt. The rotary movement of the cabin is produced by two hydraulic cylinders (actuators) that are installed between the cabin and the power unit. The actuators create the rotary angle of the cabin of +/-45° relative to the vertical power unit.

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Ssangyong Actyon Sports SUT

Ssangyong Motor Co. introduced its new Actyon Sports SUT in Korea. Actyon Sports will be premiered at the Busan International Motor Show on the 27th of April. Developed under the code name Q100, the new Sport Utility Truck is based on the Actyon and will replace the long-serving Musso Sport. Like father, like son I say…

Volkswagen Passat R GT Body Kit available from $4.500

Volkswagen announced that it will soon offer a body kit for the new Passat, based on the Passat R GT that was shown at the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s (SEMA) annual exhibition in November 2005. Although the vehicle was a concept, rave reviews from fans prompted Volkswagen to offer the package as an option on new Passats.

The appearance package creates a racy and aggressive look for the Passat with front and rear skirts with color contrasting elements, a honeycomb-designed grille, side sill kit, a harmonically integrated tailgate lip, oval-shaped tail pipe trim and 18-inch titanium colored alloy wheels, wrapped with 235/45R18 high-performance summer Pirelli tires. The vehicle’s stance is also lowered with the addition of performance lowering springs. The aerodynamic package improves the car's downward force on the road.

The Passat R GT concept and appearance package are the result of Volkswagen’s Moonraker project, a team of employees whose mission is to generate vehicles and options specifically designed for the unique trends in the U.S. marketplace.

Available for this fall for $4.500
The Passat aerodynamic appearance package will be available as an option, installed at the port of delivery, for $4,500 starting this fall. Customers will also be able to purchase the components a la carte as each of the pieces will be available for sale individually at all Volkswagen Dealerships.

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Faralli & Mazzanti ANTAS V8 GT

Lugnano-based Faralli & Mazzanti auto is now at the point of departure for new projects, such as the new Antas V8 GT, the first “Berlinetta” created in their workshops. It is completely inspired by the philosophy and material used in the “special series” cars of the past: the body, for example, is made of aluminium and completely built by hand. It will be presented in public for the first time at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, on the occasion of the opening of the 'Top Marques Monaco' exhibition which brings together under one roof all the most famous, exclusive, prestigious and desirable automotive brands.

Antas is driven by a 310bhp V8 Maserati engine fed by carburettors and endowed with a pleasing elasticity of power, which gives the 'driver' the sensation of 'true' steering typical of the great touring cars of the past. Maximum speed is claimed to be 'above' 270km/h. Exterior features include a flush-fitting petrol inlet flap set into the rear screen, which is evoked by past Le Mans racing cars, hand-crafted and embossed sill protection plates, distinctive roof-mounted wipers that clear a split front windscreen, a riveted bonnet with fasteners that has been modelled on the famous Maserati Barchetta of the 1950s, a tailgate-mounted tailfin that incorporates a television camera, while the car's badges are made out of gold and silver, fashioned by Goldsmith Tonino Camilli di Orvieto.

Inside, the cockpit is finished in soft, sumptuous hand-sewn brown leather, that offers the driver maximum comfort. Detailing
interior features include a roof-mounted protected ignition flick switch and engine starter button, a dashboard LCD screen for the rear mounted visibility camera, and continuing the use of precious metals, an individually-numbered identification plate made out of silver.

Because of all this, when the time came to name this prototype a word was chosen that comes from the ancient Tuscan language of the Etruscans: Antas, which means 'eagle', the noblest and most audacious dominator of the open spaces. On delivery, Antas comes equipped with a case covered in blue velvet bearing another silver plate etched with the car's identification numbers; while inside is a photography book and a DVD documenting the construction of the vehicle.

The Antas project has been based on an in-depth study of the stylistic evolution of the Italian automobile from the first years of the 1930s to the end of the 1960s: The golden era in which elements of style were created and developed, and even today place their imprint on the most beautiful lines of automobiles of the world.

The technical basis of this prototype derives directly from Italian grand touring cars of the 1960’s. The frame is a steel box adequately reinforced and modified, on which was mounted the model of tubes and sheet metal structure supported on the hand-moulded aluminium frame welded individually to the various components. Preparation and sanding were then done by the expert hands of artisans who prepared the body for painting, for which the best products of the recent generation are used.



Front length V8 90°


4719 cc


4 vertical carburettors with double body


Weber 38DCNL5


310 PS / 6000 rpm


43 Kgm / 3500 rpm


Steel box frame


Berlinetta 2 + 2 in aluminium


Transverse quadrilateral with spiral spring, telescopic shock absorbers and stabilising bar


Rigid axle with telescopic shock absorbers and stabilising bar


front 294 mm rear 285 mm


Front and rear 7J X 17"


Front 205 / 50 X 17

Rear 225 / 55 x 17


Rear traction


Manual ZF 5 gears + RM


length 4.750 mm length 1.780 mm capacity 2.750 mm height 1200 mm


80 litres


over 270 km/h


0-100 km/h in 5"

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2007 BMW 3 Series Coupe

These are the first official pictures of BMW’s all new 4th generation 3 Series Coupe. Before I say anything else, I think that most of you will agree that BMW did a good job with the design, creating a coupe that withholds the classy lines of all its predecessors. Thank God they avoided any “Bungle” ups this time.

As for the mechanics, the 3 Coupe will be offered with three straight six petrol engines: a 2.5 with 218 Hp, a 3.0 with 272 Hp and the all new 3.0 biturbo that produces 306 Hp. Also, there’s a 231 Hp 3.0 diesel, while for the first time, the 3 Coupe will be offered with a 4wd system. More info coming soon

BMW 335i: 306 Hp 3.0 biturbo engine
Developing maximum output of 225 kW/306 hp and peak torque of 400 Newton-metres or 295 lb-ft, this 3.0-litre power unit is the new top-end engine within BMW’s wide range of six-cylinders.

Compared with the proven 3.0-litre normal aspiration engine, biturbo technology increases overall output by approximately 15 and peak torque by an even more impressive 30 per cent.

The result is clear: maximum output of 225 kW/306 hp and peak torque of 400 Newton-metres or 295 lb-ft. which, on the road, means outstanding thrust and driving power all the way up from low engine speeds.

By contrast, the combination of turbocharger technology with high-precision gasoline injection is a particularly efficient way to meet even greater demands in terms of output and torque. And for compa­rison, the new straight-six biturbo weighs about 70 kilos or 158 lb less than an approximately equally powerful eight-cylinder normal-aspiration engine displacing 4.0 litres. A further essential point is that the power unit equipped with high-precision fuel injection offers about 10 per cent lower fuel consumption than an equally powerful turbocharged engine with manifold injection.

Technical Specifications- BMW 3 Series Coupe




335i biturbo








218 PS

272 PS

306 PS

231 PS


25,5 kgm

32,1 kgm

40,8 kgm

51,0 kgm

0-100 km/h

6,9 sec

6,1 sec

5,5 sec

6,6 sec

Top Speed

247 km/h

250 km/h

250 km/h

250 km/h


8,4 l/100 km

8,8 l/100 km

9,5 l/100 km

6,5 l/100 km

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Read the official Press Release HERE

40 Years of BMW's mid-sized Coupes, from the 2002 to the 335i Turbo HERE