BMW Light cars

A full circle.

BMW got into the business of manufacturing cars in 1929 by taking over the Dixi Company of Eisenach. Dixi had been producing the Austin 7 under licence since 1927. The car became the BMW-Dixi and from then BMW began to develop the car, producing the 3/15ps model in 1930. A tourer could be purchased for 2,800 marks and 350 to 400 cars were produced each month. A two-seat sports car the Wartburg sports was produced in small numbers, part of the total of the 20,000 basic models produced.
BMW Dixi 3/15ps
In 1930 a version with independent front suspension retaining the transverse leaf spring, was produced until 1932.This was superseded by the 3/20 with a backbone chassis and a 788cc over head valve, pressure lubricated engine that was otherwise similar to the Austin engine and independent swing axle rear suspension.  A few thousand of these were produced. The 3/20 was a much heavier car than the 3/15ps, the former weighing 660Kg and the latter 388kg. The 309 was an 845cc four that was available until 1936. It shared a chassis and body with the 1.5 litre 315. Nine thousand seven hundred and sixty five 315's were produced between 1934 and 1937 The first of the classic sixes produced by BMW with a twin tube chassis frame and transverse leaf I.F.S and available in eight body styles.
BMW 315
After 1937 BMW turned it's back on the light car until 1955 when the company began to produce a mini car with a similar performance to the 3/15ps, the Isetta. The Isetta was an Italian design produced under licence, A repeat of the Dixi story, but this time using a BMW engine, a 247cc later 297cc motorcycle unit. The over one hundred and sixty thousand examples produced between 1955 and 1963, creating the much needed revenue for BMW that their large engined models had failed to do.
BMW Isetta chassis
The next minicar the 600 was a development of the Isseta. A four-seat car that was fitted with another BMW motorcycle engine an air-cooled flat twin unit of 582cc at the rear. Produced from 1957 to 1959, just under thirty five thousand 600's were made.
BMW 600
The 600 had not as successful as the Isetta but the next small car the 700 was. Fitted with a 697cc version of the engine fitted to the 600 and with a similar layout, but with a conventional body designed by Michelotti. Over one hundred and eighty eight thousand examples were produced between 1959 and 1965.
While these minicars were being produced, tiding the company over, the design and development of the model that would lead BMW to it's present prosperity was underway. The 1500's were the forerunner of the modern BMW's with a unit construction chassis/body unit, a four-cylinder overhead camshaft engine of 1499cc. McPherson struts type front suspension and independent rear suspension. Almost thirty five thousand examples of that first model and a 1600 development were produced by 1966. They were replaced in 1966 by the 1502 and 1602. By 1977 when the new 3 Series had taken over the roll of BMW's smallest car they had produced 349,955 examples. There had been a 1600 version of the 3 Series and the 3 Series Compact from 1975 until 2003.
The Austin Seven, the design of which was used to produce the BMW-Dixi in the 1920's was first produced at Longbridge Birmingham England. In 1959, the British Motor Corporation introduced a new model also produced at Longbridge that was a true successor to the Seven. Badged as an Austin Seven or a Morris Mini Minor, the car soon became known as the Mini. After a disastrous episode when they owned the Rover Group, including the Longbridge factory, BMW sold off most of the company, but they retained the design of a new Mini. It had been planned for the new Mini to be produced at Longbridge. The Mini, which is now produced at the old Morris factory at Cowley Oxford England, also retained by BMW. The MINI is sold throughout the world alone side the BMW range. So the lightcar sold by BMW today has direct links with the first car it produced, a full circle.
BMW Mini

Disconnected Jottings

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