Introduction: Die Neue Klasse

With this article we introduce Saad, our newest contributer here at BimmerFile. Saad has a passion for cars, BMWs in particular and will initially be providing us with some history behind the brand we love. Enjoy, as we are sure you will find the articles informative and engaging.

After World War II, Germany was in a state of destruction. A dreadful economy, the consequence of involvement in the war, and Allied bombings had left the German car industry in a perilous state. BMW had suffered badly, but the sanctions placed upon it were generously waived by the Allied Control Commission. This meant that, despite the war wounds and amputations, BMW could start over. With the glory years behind them, it was never underestimated how difficult it would be for a new beginning.

BMW demonstrated its postwar panache by producing timeless sports cars, like the 507, and the infamous Baroque Angels. By the end of the fifties, however, BMW had yet to produce a revenue generating automobile. The Baroque Angels were simply too expensive given the European economy of the time with limited sales potential and the diminutive Isetta just wasn ‘t selling well enough. The void between the V8s and the bubblecars had to be filled. The Goldilocks formula was a four-cylinder family car sized and priced between the Isetta-derived flat-twin rear-engined 600 and the elegant Goertz designed 503 sports car.

The Neue Klasse, which debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1961 as the 1500, was ahead of its time. Sold from 1962-1977, it offered a large model variety due to different body styles, engines and power ratings. Its modern styling and engineering would be imitated not just by the Germans, but the British, the French, the Swedes and the Italians, too. It might look unseasonably tall today, but Hofmeister ‘s clean, functional design helped the New Class become the commercial success BMW needed.

Influenced by Black ‘s unit body/chassis construction, the cars featured a semi-trailing-arm rear suspension, MacPherson struts, disc brakes in the front and were powered by the famed four-cylinder M10 engine featuring an overhead camshaft. Initially being a line of four-door sedans and two-door coupes, the success of the New Class inspired the creation of two-door sports sedans in 1966 featuring advanced chassis technology. These were, of course, the outstanding 02 Series cars.

The New Class really was a masterpiece; it was so great that it became the blueprint for every production BMW automobile over the next thirty plus years, providing the foundations for the company to build a secure future. A future where BMW automobiles set the standard for sports sedans, becoming the undisputed champions in the international market. The New Class was the predecessor to the 3 and 5 Series. The renowned BMW tradition of speed, sport, engineering excellence and superb craftsmanship that was established by the New Class would now be celebrated through the famed 3 Series and the respected 5 Series.

The world was introduced to driving pleasure the likes of which they had never known before.

Images: BMWAG/German History in Documents and Images

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  • Marco

    It should read “Die” neue Klasse. Nice article though – the photos are awesome!

  • Marco- That would be my typo, and it has been corrected.

    -M

  • JonPD

    Great article!

  • RJ

    Wow…that 507 was such a beautiful design…it still looks so modern, as if it could be sold today.

  • RJ- If you look at the Z8 and latest Z4 you see a lot of similarities in the design- it is a timeless design. One of my personal favorites.

  • Waleed

    Well done Saad. Nicely! And what a beautiful car indeed.

  • Steve.Strange

    @BMW 507 – He turns quite a lot of heads – even today: http://forum.avtoindex.com/foto/data/media/24/bmw_507_1957_2.jpg

  • mustafa

    Good one Saad!!

  • chas58

    Nice article Saad. Welcome on board. Yes, only BMW could take what sound mundane on paper (small 4 door sedan) and create a legend.

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  • mattman

    splendid stuff Saad.