Bayerische Motoren Werke, or BMW as we know it, was founded in 1916 and in the near-century of existence, the German company headquartered in Munich has gone on to become one of the world’s leading luxury automobile manufacturers. Their secret to success lies in a dedication to quality and constant pursuit of excellence. The BMW name has become synonymous with precision manufacturing and top-notch quality. The automotive behemoth, whose very own tagline is ‘the ultimate driving machine’, has created some of the most legendary cars in the last hundred years – cars that have etched its place in the automotive history. It wasn’t easy picking the best of the best, and rather it turned into a daunting task to narrow down the list to just seven of the most iconic names out of the dozens of stunning automobiles BMW has produced over the years. Here are our picks for the greatest BMW cars so far.
7. BMW 328
Claim to fame: We begin the list with the iconic 1936 BMW 328, the roadster that put BMW on the motor racing map and got the racing car ball rolling for the company. The 328 was introduced at the Eifelrennen race at the Nürburgring in 1936, where Ernst Henne drove it to win the 2.0-liter class. After that, the 328 seemingly won any sports car race it wanted to including the Le Mans, the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Alpine Rally, and the Mille Miglia. In 1940, the winning BMW 328 Touring Coupe set the record for the highest average speed of 103.6mph on the Mille Miglia circuit. Powered by a 2.0-liter straight-six engine, the BMW 328 made around 79hp – an astonishing feat for its time. At the 2011 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy, the Bavarian automaker presented the BMW 328 Hommage Concept – a prototype built to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the iconic sport car.
6. BMW Isetta 300
Launched: November 1953
Claim to fame: In the era when automakers around the world directed their attention towards mass-production cars, a tiny car named Isetta with quirky design caused a sensation when it was introduced to the motoring press in Turin in November 1953. The Italian-designed microcar was built under license in a number of different countries, including Spain, Belgium, France, Brazil, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Thanks to its egg shape, bubble window and tiny size, it went on to become one of the most highly sought microcars in the world. The diminutive 2-seater’s design was overhauled by BMW and also redesigned the powerplant around a BMW one-cylinder, four-stroke, 247 cc motorcycle engine which generated 13hp. The BMW Isetta was in 1955 the world’s first mass-production 3-Litres/100 km car and was the top-selling single-cylinder car in the world, with 161,728 units sold. In the strange little world of micro-cars, the Isetta 300 still has a lot of fans and remains a legend.
5. BMW 507 Roadster
Claim to fame: The legendary BMW 507 Roadster needs no introduction. Many consider it as one of the most beautiful cars to be produced in Germany. The 507 made its debut at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in the summer of 1955 and production began in November 1956. Produced from 1956 to 1959, it was conceived with the intention to be exported to the United States in thousands, but ended up turning into a financial disaster that almost took down the company with itself. When launched new, it came with a hefty price tag of $11,000 making it out of reach for even the richest of the rich. As a result, only 252 cars were ever built making it one of the rarest BMW models in the history of the company. A decade after the production ceased, used 507s were worthless, and quite a few ended up at the scrap yard. However, today the BMW 507 Roadster is considered as one of the finest creations by BMW and is a highly sought after collectors car. Recently, a BMW 507 Roadster was auctioned for $2.4 million.