BMW was not always the ultra-successful enthusiast-oriented company that we know today, but instead had a far more humble beginning that most BMW owners are totally unaware of.
In the early 1950s, BMW was in serious financial difficulty and had to make a strategic move forward to save the company, which as an armament maker in World War II had been literally wiped out. Messerschmitt and Heinkel, former aircraft manufacturers, had also been all but destroyed in the war and were having a moderate success building ultra-small economy cars. To get the company on an even footing, BMW decided to go into the micro-car business by licensing the Iso Isetta Italy.
The Isetta was designed in Italy by Iso spA and was built across Western Europe starting in 1952. Europe was recovering from the ravages of World War II, and what was needed most as the separate economies struggled was a small and economical car. Emphasis on small and economical: the rear engine/rear-wheel drive 1 cylinder 1-stroke gasoline Isetta was only 90 inches long.
The Isetta was affectionately known as the “bubble car” because of its shape. BMW licensed the Isetta design, reworked it very slightly from the original for 1955, and changed the engine to a 4-stroke 250cc motorcycle engine. The basic car would stay in production thru 1962. 161,360 BMW Isettas were produced from 1955 thru 1962, in three models: 200, 300, and 600 (4-door, 4 seats, and the introduction of the BMW semi-trailing arm independent suspension that we still know today). The original 250cc models could be operated with only a motorcycle license until 1956, when the West German Federal government changed the laws.
Today’s example is a 1958 model, a second-generation car that saw the side windows redesigned and a slightly larger 300cc engine used. With a 7:1 compression ration, the engine now produced 13 HP with a matching 13 ft-lb of torque. The top end was only 53 MPH.
We were very pleasantly surprised to find this Isetta at the Austin Cars and Coffee event in February 2012. We’d seen two Isettas outside of Austin before, and immediately recognized the egg-shaped car. This is truly a fascinating car, with all sorts of intelligent and clever features to examine in detail.
The most obvious feature of the Isetta line is the single front-opening door. Note the hinged steering column, which swings to the side with the door (you didn’t think that Ford invented the swing-away steering column, did you?). The seatbelts in this example were added by the owners, who in the spirit of Cars and Coffee were gracious enough to show us around their car.
Yes, that is the familiar BMW roundel. The roundel evolved form the original Rapp Motorenwerke logo, and the blue and white colors reflect the flag of Bavaria. Most BMW enthusiasts will claim that the blue and white center reflects a spinning aircraft propeller, but that was not the design and was only the suggested by a late-50s advertising campaign.
The door hinges and the controls are on the left, and the weight of the driver balances the rear engine mounted on the right. A version built for Britain flips the hinges and controls over to the right side, but of course the engine remained in the right side as well and required a balancing weight to be added on the left. The chrome bumpers, the tubes and the bar on the door, were an option.
Detail of the steering column. Note the pivot point, which allows the column to move with the door. Note the shifter in the gray boot, on the side of the car, for the 4-speed transmission. 4-speeds were unusual then, but this allowed the diminutive engine to have some greater flexibility.
The vertical silver bar adjusts the heater, which is located under the seat. Note the decal on the front inner fender. Just above that is the choke.
The Isetta is a 4-wheel car (3-wheel cars produced in Britain starting in the fifties were an attempt to circumvent taxes). In the back we find the gas filler and the optional luggage rack. Note the opening on the right for the engine.
The left side is smooth.
Moving around to the front again, we see a grill on the front door. This was an option, with a moving vent behind it, to provide fresh air flow to the driver and passenger.
Steering wheel and 60-MPH speedometer.
Sun visors, made from cardboard. Note the roundel shape pressed into the corner.
The Isetta was a wide car, 54″, designed for two and undoubtedly often holding two adults and a child.
Door closed. Note the door handle on the left side. Also note the high-mounted headlamps, undoubtedly providing excellent illumination.
Door closed, view thru the right side sliding window.
Door closed, view thru the optional sliding cloth sunroof.
298cc engine, air-cooled, 13 HP. A cover is normally provided here, but wasn’t present today.
We would like to see this car on a lift in order to examine the drivetrain.
A chassis diagram detailed the underside can be seen here.
Resources and more reading:
Selections from our personal library:
We’ve seen these hundreds of times on 18-wheeler trucks… but on a Mini? OMG! Here’s one in Tennessee.
So as long as it’s ok with somebody, we’ll present our tribute to Rednecks.
Naked in repose
Silvery silhouette girls
Adorn my mudflaps
A painful sadness
Can’t fit big screen TV through
Double-wide’s front door
Hey, maybe I can get on
Distant siren screams
Dumb-ass Verne’s been playing with
A NEW MOON
Flashlights pierce darkness
No nightcrawlers to be found
Guess we’ll gig some frogs
Joyous, playful, bright
Trailer park girl rolls in puddle
Of old motor oil
Carl’s ex-wife Tammy files for
Damn, in that tube-top
You make me almost forget
you are my cousin
Tonight we hunger
Grandma sent grocery money
To Jimmy Swaggert
Set the VCR
Dukes of Hazzard Marathon
At 9 O’Clock
In WalMart toy aisle
Wailing boy wants ‘rassling doll
Mama whups his ass
White noise, buzzing static
Call Earl; satellite dish
needs new descrambler
And cyclone fence keeps me from
My El Camino
In early morning mist
Mama searches Circle K for
Moon Pies and Red Man
Grinning, he displays
The nine hundred beer cans
Filling pickup bed
With the price of a new M5 sedan starting at $89,000 USD, and the price of the upcoming M3 twin-turbo likely starting at 80k or higher, BMW has left a large number of buyers behind. Hence the new line of BMW M Performance parts – an attempt to split the wide gap and allow enthusiasts to build a car a piece at a time.
BMW Press Release follows:
New BMW M Performance Parts for the new BMW 3 and 5 Series Sedans.
Aero, Interior, and Chassis items added to lineup
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – December 14, 2012… BMW today announced the release of a second major wave of BMW M Performance Parts designed and tested for the new BWW 3 Series and current 5 Series Sedan models. On sale now through all Authorized BMW Centers, BMW M Performance Parts are accessories which have been carefully developed in collaboration with BMW M GmbH to ensure an authentic transfer of racing-derived M technology into everyday driving. In addition to the first wave of new 3 Series and 5 Series M Performance Parts which became available in Spring 2012, the latest offering includes exclusive chassis, aerodynamic, and cockpit components to further intensify The Ultimate Driving Machine®.
Aero: Form follows function.
The BMW 3 Series and 5 Series Sedans both benefit from this release of parts with new Aerodynamic and Exterior component choices. For the 3 Series, the BMW M Performance Front Splitter, Rocker Panel Blades, Rear Spoiler (in choice of black or carbon fiber finish), Rear Diffuser, Side Stripes, and Rocker Panel Decals become available. Additionally, an M Sport Line Retrofit kit is now available for vehicles not originally equipped with M Sport Line.
For the 5 Series Sedan, a new BMW M Performance Rear Diffuser is offered for 528i, 535i, and 550i models, and will be joined by a new Carbon Fiber Front Splitter which becomes available early in 2013. An M Sport Package Retrofit kit will also become available for 5 Series Sedan models in 2013.
Interior: Show that matches your Go.
For the BMW 3 Series, BMW M Performance now offers a Stainless Steel Driver’s Footrest and a set of Stainless Steel Pedal Covers for manual and automatic transmission cars. Additionally, a set of BMW M Performance Floor Mats is now available, as are the BMW M Performance Carbon Fiber Parking Brake Handle with Alcantara boot.
The crowning touch, certainly, for the 3 Series interior is to install the BMW M Performance Electronic Steering Wheel which is now available for cars equipped with the Automatic, Sport Automatic, or 6-speed manual transmission. The latest-generation Electronic Steering Wheel, featuring a flat-bottom rim and covered in Alcantara, is a unique offering in the industry and allows drivers to take advantage of three separate information modes:
- EfficientDynamics Mode shows the driver real-time fuel efficiency data, average speed and efficiency data, water and oil temperatures, recommended shift points, and an EfficientDynamics Index (“EDI”) calculation.
- Sport Mode features a built-in stopwatch function, G-force meter for longitudinal and lateral forces, water and oil temperatures, and multicolored LED shift lights.
- Race Mode features a stopwatch function with storage of values for up to 50 lap times (including lap, max speed, max G-forces), measurement of up to nine sector times within each lap, drag-strip simulator (LED launch countdown, reaction time, 60-foot time, 330-foot time, 1,000-foot time, 1/8th-mile time, ¼-mile time, and trap speeds).
On the 5 Series, the non-electronic M Performance Steering Wheel becomes available, featuring a flat-bottom rim and covered in Alcantara. A red quick-index stripe is located at the 12 O’clock location, and the wheel is finished with a carbon fiber insert with chrome BMW M Performance inlay.
Additionally for the 5 Series, a BMW M Performance Carbon Fiber Interior Trim system is now available for models with both Automatic (nine pieces) and 6-speed manual (seven pieces) transmissions. It replaces the vehicle’s existing door handle pulls, center console, ashtray lid, cup holder lid, and dashboard insert with beautiful, handcrafted carbon fiber components. Each trim piece is clear-coated and polished to create visual depth and protect against UV rays. Also for the 5 Series, the BMW M Performance Parts Stainless Steel Pedal Covers are now available for vehicles with Automatic and 6-speed manual transmissions.
Chassis and Exhaust: Focused performance for the 3 Series.
A new BMW M Performance Suspension Kit is now available for the new 3 Series Sedan bringing an extra measure of responsiveness and handling to the quintessential sport sedan – a car that has been named to Car and Driver’s “10Best Cars” list for 22 consecutive years. New coil springs, finished in M Performance Red paint lower the ride height by 10mm, compared to the factory M Sport suspension, and by 20mm compared to the standard suspension.
This focused look can be further enhanced with the addition of 20-inch M Performance Double-Spoke wheels. These weight-optimized, forged alloy M wheels feature an exclusive bi-color design sporting a high-gloss turned finish on the face and Orbit Gray paint between the spokes. The wheels come with Pirelli P zero run-flat tires mounted and balanced. The tires are sized 225/35 R20 90Y up front and 255/30 R20 92Y in the rear.
The final dynamic touch is the availability of the M Performance Brake System. The high-performance Brembo system features compound, cross-drilled, dimpled discs mated top 4-piston aluminum calipers up front and 2-piston calipers in the rear. The calipers are available in a choice of M Performance Red, Yellow or Orange finish and sport the M logo. The discs are cross-drilled, grooved and internally vented to optimize thermal resistance and feature aluminum hats to reduce unsprung weight. The front discs measure 370mm x 30mm (14.6 in. x 1.2 in.), the rears 345mm x 24mm (13.6 in. x 0.9 in.).
The available M Performance Exhaust helps both the new 328i and 335i to sound, look and breath better. Developed using state-of-the-art CAD and FEM technology, the stainless steel exhaust improves both the note and the performance. The unique chrome exhaust tips are laser-engraved with the M logo. The system reduces back pressure lends an even sportier tone to either the TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder of the 328i or the TwinPower Turbo Inline-6 in the 335i.
M Performance Wheel and Exhaust upgrades are available for the 5 Series Sedan
The M Performance Exhaust is available for the 535i. Developed using state-of-the-art CAD and FEM technology, the stainless steel exhaust improves both the sound and the performance of the 535i. The unique chrome exhaust tips are laser-engraved with the M logo. The system reduces back pressure and lends an even sportier tone to the TwinPower Turbo Inline-6.
Unique M Performance V-spoke wheels are available for the 5 Series. The exclusive bi-color design features a high-gloss finish on the face and Orbit Gray paint between the spokes. As an option, the wheels can also be finished in Liquid Black paint. They come with Bridgestone Potenza RE050 A run-flat tires mounted and balanced. The performance tires are sized 245/35 R20 95Y up front and 275/30 R 20 in the rear.
Customers now have the ability to tailor their new 3 Series or 5 Series to suit their performance tastes thanks to the latest enhancements from BMW M Performance Parts. These accessories are available now exclusively through your authorized BMW Center just in time for the holidays.
BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 338 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 115 MINI passenger car dealers, and 32 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
In the Car Lounge website forum, owner visillalov recounts his experiences with his BMW 335i. Besides a thorough review by the owner, it’s a worthwhile read because of his experiences modifying his car, autocrossing and tracking it, then wrecking it on track and rebuilding it. Very unusually for an internet writer, he admits that his crash on the track was the result of his lack of experience.
But he doesn’t give up – he rebuilt the car to even better specifications.
He doesn’t specifically mention it, but he has added an oil cooler. In our experience, that’s an absolute must for any 335i owners who plan on tracking their car, and the bigger the better. But the worst part of the 335i is the lack of a limited slip differential. Unbelievably, it’s an open differential. We agree with him that it’s simply incredulous that BMW can’t put a limited slip differential in any of its products - except the M cars. And if you look up the factory prices for a differential, you’ll find that you will need to spend thousands of dollars. Does that make the 335i a bad car? Not necessarily… as the owners car has responded very well to bolt-ons and a tune by Cobb. We’ve seen some examples of 335is Cobb-tunes, including one on the dyno a few weeks ago, so we followed this story with great interest.
Selected images below, read the full story at the link above for an extensive set of images.
BMW, with engines well recognized for refinement (although not always reliability), has captured two spots on this year’s Wards 10 Best Engines list.
BMW Press Release follows:
09.12.2011: BMW TwinPower Turbos Take Two Spots on Ward’s 10 Best Engines List
New TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder joins repeat winner TwinPower Turbo Inline-6
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – December 9, 2011 BMW TwinPower Turbo technology takes two spots on Ward’s 2012 10 Best Engines Awards list.
This year, the all-new 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder (N20) joins the repeat winner 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-6 (N55).
“TwinPower Turbo technology is a perfect example of the BMW EfficientDynamics philosophy,” said Ludwig Willisch – President and CEO of BMW of North America, LLC. “With the ground-breaking combination of a twin-scroll turbo, high-precision direct injection and Valvetronic, both the TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder and the TwinPower Turbo inline-6 offer the performance of much larger engines without the penalty of more fuel consumption.”
Early next year, the all-new 2012 BMW 328i Sedan will join the 2012 528i and Z4 sDrive28i as the next model to use the 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder. Based on preliminary EPA fuel efficiency estimates of 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway/28 mpg combined, the 328i with 8-speed automatic is the most fuel efficient BMW model ever sold in the US. With a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds the 2012 328i is one full second quicker than the previous-generation 328i Sedan.
“BMW’s all-new 4-cylinder proves once and for all that we have nothing to fear with the latest downsizing trend,” says Tom Murphy, executive editor of WardsAuto World magazine. “Our editors loved it in the Z4, a sporty roadster that loses none of its zip with this spectacular turbocharged 4-cylinder But they liked it even better in a larger, more practical vehicle, the 5 Series sedan.”
The 2012 640i Coupe and Convertible are the newest models to receive the TwinPower Turbo inline-6, joining a wide range of BMW cars and Sports Activity Vehicles. With a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 5.4 seconds the 640i Coupe is as quick as the previous-generation 650i Coupe with its 4.8-liter V8. With preliminary EPA mileage estimates of 23 mpg city/33 mpg/26 combined, the 640i Coupe is nearly 45 percent more efficient than that previous 650i.
“No one does inline 6-cylinder engines like BMW, and the turbocharged N55 is the perfect combination of intoxicating power and fuel-saving efficiency,” says Drew Winter, editor-in-chief of WardsAuto World magazine. “The N55 sings like no other engine in the world. It is a true benchmark.”
TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder
TwinPower Turbo inline-6
It’s been a long while since we have had something of interest in the MINI world. After all, nothing has changed… except the lineup has gotten a bit more weird with an even more unfathomable dashboard and even more nonfunctional scoops. And unfortunately it looks like the upcoming all-new MINI is just more of the same.
And the cute commercials that MINI used to make went out the door with their original marketing team. Who can forget the bondage site by MINI of Canada?
So here is their latest, an homage to The Italian Job. Prepared to celebrate the upcoming Olympics. See what you think… it doesn’t work for us.
One word: video. This is your big chance… do have your passenger video it.
This lucky BMW 1M driver in Germany encountered a prototype next-generation M3 on the Autobahn going in the direction of Berlin. But it wasn’t just any 1M: the owner had modified it to the tune of 420 HP. And with an engine directly related to the updated inline six in the M3, a comparison was required and the chase was on.
And a chase it was – the M3 driver clearly didn’t want anybody snooping on the prototype of a product that we probably won’t see unveiled until next January at the earliest. The M3 driver also technically broke the law by not immediately pulling over to the let the overcoming car pass. Instead it pulled away itself at even faster speeds (demonstrating that it had higher horsepower). At one point the speeds hit 240 KPH. Not a problem on the Autobahn, though, since it was ion an unlimited speed section.
Watch the two videos below, in order, for the full story.
When the Fesarius is in spacedock, what does Balok drive?
Well, the Mini Countryman of course. They look like they were separated at birth.
Mini, what are you thinking? Minis have gone from handsome to ugly. And the interiors have gone from functional to parodies.
19 Apr 2011
BMW Z4 at the New York Motor Show (April 20/21) with new 2-litre TwinPowerTurbo engine for the first time.
Munich.With its athletic design, agile handling and powerful engine, the BMW Z4 has achieved outstanding success in the class of premium roadsters, having been the worldwide segment leader in 2009 and 2010. Towards the end of the year, the BMW Z4 is to feature another technological highlight: a completely newly developed 2-litre engine with TwinPower Turbo technology and an output of 176 kW/240 bhp. Its name is BMW Z4sDrive28i.
Thanks to TwinPower Turbo technology, the new supercharged 4-cylinder petrol engine with all-aluminium crankcase, already available in the BMW X1 xDrive28i, provides increased torque, improved performance and much reduced fuel consumption and emission levels as compared to the existing 6-cylinder induction engine model BMW Z4 sDrive30. The absolute figures, including those for the driving performance of the new BMW Roadster, are expected to be finalised mid-year.
This newly developed engine in the BMW Z4 sDrive 28i uses the globally unique BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. In other words it is fitted with High Precision Injection as well as a turbocharger powered via two exhaust ducts. Other elements of this progressive engine package include the variable camshaft control system double VANOS and the fully variable valve control system VALVETRONIC.
The new 2-litre petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology in the BMW Z4 sDrive28i thus sets a further milestone in the BMW EfficientDynamics strategy.
On-track tests reveal several issues for the M3, including a bout of understeer. While the M3 does post a tenth better lap time, the $25k difference is a problem. Nonetheless, as Motor Trend says, a win is a win.
Now imagine what the Mustang would do if it didn’t have the antiquated ox-cart axle. A modern IRS with anti-dive geometry and less unsprung weight would do wonders.
Yes, there is always the Boss 302. But then the BMW has a track model available, too.
And, saved here for posterity, are the specs of each car from Motor Trend. Note that the Mustang has essentially the same HP, and almost 100 lb-ft more torque. What should be an advantage (more torque, wider track) doesn’t yield as much as it should – again, the antique suspension is getting in the way, making for a nose heavy and light tail weight distribution. And, it can’t support the rear Brembos that the S197 development car with IRS was designed for.
|2011 BMW M3 Coupe||2011 Ford Mustang GT|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front engine, RWD||Front engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||90-deg V-8, aluminum block/heads||90-deg V-8, aluminum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||244.0 cu in/3999 cc||302.1 cu in/4951 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||414 hp @ 8300 rpm||412 hp @ 6500 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||295 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm||390 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm|
|REDLINE||8300 rpm||6800 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||8.6 lb/hp||8.8 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed manual||6-speed manual|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar;live axle, coil springs,anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||14.2-in vented disc;13.8-in vented disc, ABS||14.0-in vented disc; 11.8-in vented disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||9.0 x 19 in; 10.0 x 19 in,cast aluminum||9.0 x 19 in,cast aluminum|
|TIRES, F;R||245/35ZR19 93Y; 265/35ZR19 98Y
|255/40R19; 255/40R19 Pirelli PZero|
|WHEELBASE||108.7 in||107.1 in|
|TRACK, F/R||60.6/60.6 in||62.3/62.9 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||181.8 x 71.0 x 55.8 in||188.1 x 73.9 x 55.8 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||38.4 ft||36.7 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3544 lb||3616 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||51/49%||55/45%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||38.4/36.8 in||38.5/34.7 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.8/33.7 in||42.4/29.8 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||55.3/51.9 in||55.3/51.6 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||11.0 cu ft||13.4 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||1.7 sec||1.7 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||1.9||2.1|
|QUARTER MILE||12.8 sec @ 110.9 mph||12.7 sec @ 111.6 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||110 ft||108 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.95 g (avg)||0.96 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.1 sec @ 0.74 g (avg)||24.9 sec @ 0.76 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||2500 rpm||1950 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$67,025||$40,275|
|TRUE CAR TRUEVALUE PRICE*||$64,341||$32,585|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain||Dual front, front side|
|BASIC WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||4 yrs/unlimited miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||16.6 gal||16.0 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY ECON||14/20 mpg||17/26 mpg|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.20 lb/mile||0.96 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium|
And now the video, complete with Motor Trend’s own irritating ads: