You know what’s a really appealing car I have yet to drive but would desperately like to drive around, a bit? The BMW 700. You know these, right? These conventionally-shaped little cars were developments of unconventionally-shaped cars like the BMW 600 and the Isetta, and retained the rear-engine, air-cooled flat-twin layout of the 600. These also were the cars that helped save BMW’s ass, financially, selling over 180,000 cars between 1959 and 1965, giving BMW the space it needed to develop its Neue Klasse of cars that would go on to define its future. But, for the purposes of these more visually-oriented Cold Start posts, look how fantastic that old brochure photography and art direction is! That neutral background, punctuated with the red car and the colored circles in the BMW 700 logo! The speed blurs! That look she’s giving you! It’s all gold, gold I tell you!
The other brochure pictures are similarly good, with severely minimized backgrounds and driver poses that say something, like the serious determination of this guy to, I guess, reverse a a bit? Mothergrabber looks like he means it, no matter what. Umbrella couple back there agrees with me, just look at them!
It’s just a flat-twin motorcycle-derived engine back there, only 697cc, but the sport versions of these made 40 hp, not too bad considering the size. You know what these always reminded me of?
Yes, VW Type 3s. I mean, look at them! They really look alike there, with the BMW being a somewhat more rectilinear and creased version to VW’s more pillowy look. Still, these two feel like brothers.
Such friendly lil’ cars. I love them.
It’s just one of those post war poor economic times european vehicles, like the DAF, the Trabant, the Renault Dauphine – or the VW: It was never really good enough for the times it existed in, but nobody was harsh enough to tell the makers, who tried their best. Like when you don’t tell your kid a drawing he made is really crap.
These were pretty cool… they rocked at ice racing in Sweden; severely modified ones were still winning in the 1990s.
Yes, one of my old car friends here had one for classic car racing also. Impressive. But still a pretty crap car, compared to a 4+ cylinder water cooled front engined “regular” car.
I too have always appreciated the BMW 700 and its older cousin the 600. Small, cute, rear-engined, what’s not to love? It’s a microcar you can actually use and I think that’s awesome.
What’s not awesome is that I’ve been trying to upload a profile picture to this site for like an hour, had to make accounts on two websites that I’ve never heard of and don’t intend to use again to do it, and after all that it doesn’t freaking work and I still can’t see a profile pic on this website and I have no idea why it’s not showing up or why I’ve gotten this worked up about it. I just want to be one of the cool kids with a profile picture and not some anonymous rando, why can’t I be one of the cool kids!?
Oh, there it is. I knew ranting about it would finally summon the image!
I made a profile pic with that mysterious company like in 2010, I have never ever logged back in but it never seizes to surprise me how it continues to work across hundreds of websites.
That woman looks like Myra Hindley.
I think the guy is looking back after running something over, and the umbrella couple are staring at him for hitting whatever – or whomever – it was.
These are cool. There is a nice one at the BMW Welt in Munich. Funny how much in common (layout-wise) this has with the i3 designed 50 years later. Flat two cylinder motorcycle engine out back, seats four inside. The 700 has a better frunk than the i3 though.
My dad restored a couple of these (I guess a kind of upgrade from the Isettas he had before that). My brother currently owns the 700 Sport they worked on together)….
Having driven both and own the Notch. I will say the 700 was like a Type 3 little brother. Although, the 700 somehow resolved the rear oversteer tuck problem of the swingaxle. It was likely due to their use of an Anti-rollbar which VW forgot. You could buy one from EMPI, but that is a different story.
‘You know what these always reminded me of?’
The cold war love child of a Corvair and a Trabant?
Don’t forget the Sports 700 – the cool coupe cousin that went racing!
If I ever had to own a BMW, it would be the 2002. This is now a close second.
Just for you. Happy Spring!
That’s an excellent blue. Thanks for the pic!
Love those derptastic headlights. 🙂
The dude hopped in to steal the car and was shocked to hear the engine BEHIND him.
Which looks a bit like an Autobianchi Bianchina?
The guy that turns his head to look what’s behind him? He tells us that the mirrors on this thing are hopeless. Or else he would be looking into the mirror instead of craning like that.
He’s yelling to the car behind him “It’s a BMW, it doesn’t have turn signals!”
Somewhere out there is a German industrial designer who lays awake at night thinking of the time he managed to get the B-pillar visually centered on the body, but not on the wheelbase.
Well now I can’t unsee that. Thanks a lot.
There are short and long versions of the sedan, as well as (short only) coupe and roadster models. Compare the red car in the lead pic (short) with the pale green side-view car (long). The long model was a later development.
DKW and NSU did the same thing in the early ’60s – lengthened but still two-door versions of their sub-Beetle-sized sedans. In their case new roof pressings were shelled out for, so that in addition to a wider, wheelwell-hump-free rear seat there was also a bit more rear legroom. In all cases the original short models continued alongside and I can only wonder why nobody followed through with the next logical step of making the long model a 4-door.
Odd, but Germans were really reluctant to buy four-door cars until the seventies. I think it was a feeling of safety to know that the kids couldn’t tumble out. Cars like the Opel Kadett were available with four doors, but those were generally mainly sold in export. France, meanwhile, was the complete opposite – two-door sedans have generally been non-existent there.
Speed lines? I thought those were erasure marks. Fun article, as usual.