1971 BMW 2000 on test

Our own anniversary year is a kind of permanent party. But there's another birthday bash that we definitely don't want to miss: The joy of driving turns 60. It began in 1961 with the New Class from BMW. That's why a BMW 2000 is now part of the party as the "age in the test".

A narrow moon tumbles out of the spring night, timid rays of sunshine blink through heavy clouds. We walk in the drizzle to the ticket office of the gas station, where we always meet for the "old man in the test" and where Hans is already waiting. According to the script, it would now be up to Otto to push the discussion about the toppings of salami baguettes, up to me to brush off a compliment from the senior boss, and up to Hans to pretend he doesn't belong with us. But then he taps me on the shoulder when I want to buy a washing ticket for a "spring wash":

"Um, Seb, what for now?"

"The 'spring wash'? Well, today I would have found it useful to use it for washing. Or do you prefer the 'summer wash'?"

"No, but that's not the point."


"We don't have an old car here that we could wash in spring."

"Oh! That's right, there was something."

Because the "old man in the test" is not traveling with us today, but with a small entourage by van. Then we'll head straight to the paddock at the Hockenheimring, where we have an appointment and will arrive just in time so that it looks as planned. The truck rolls through the gate shortly after us, parks and lets the lift tailgate swing open. Although we experience this more often, it is always as exciting as opening presents at Christmas. First of all, because we really get the car. Then that moment when we see it in real life for the first time, especially when, like today, we don't know exactly what kind of model we're getting. It couldn't be any better: a BMW 2000 in a Granada red that outshines any cloudy weather.

A kink in the optics

This 2000 is registered on July 1, 1971 to Mr. Meyer in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel, later Mr. Baumann, who lives three streets away, buys it - maybe they know each other. Since the premiere of the model series is long ago: On September 21, 1961, BMW presented the 1500 at the IAA. It is the first model of the New Class - and BMW's last chance. (Read what BMW is planning for the "New Class" now, 60 years later, here ). ,

At the end of the 1950s, the finances slipped badly into imbalance - because of the wide gap between the small 600 and the state and star-bearing V8 models 502 and 507 . Only a 20 million loan from MAN and the entry of Herbert Quandt prevent the takeover by Daimler and keep the shop in Bavaria working on engines.

With the 700, BMW can pull itself together from 1959, but the new class has a future that extends to the present day.Almost a year after the IAA debut, production of the 1.5-liter car, as they proudly said at the time, begins. Its 80 hp four-cylinder is the first version of the M10 engine series developed by Alexander von Falkenhausen and which will still power the three-seater (316/318) a quarter of a century later. Two other things that BMW is dreaming up for the new class have survived to this day: firstly, the kink that chief stylist Hofmeister draws in the C-pillar. That's right, the 600 times already built 3200 CS, but the 1500 is the first large-series BMW with it. The second thing? Probably the most important of all: sheer driving pleasure.,

An ode to joy

One might object that the Neue Klasse actually does not establish the tradition of sporty BMWs, but only follows that of the 328. But isn't it one of the courtesies of a birthday to make the past a little more glorious for the jubilee? Even. And indeed, with the 1500, BMW is growing into a sporty rival to Mercedes - especially with the more powerful versions TI (110 hp), tilux (120 hp) and tii (130 hp). The most successful model of the series, however, is the 2000. It comes in 1966 with rectangular headlights and a two-liter engine with 100 hp, which at that time was around 100 hp. And especially today.

So, enough chatting, meanwhile the engine has warmed up. As a two-liter M10 has exactly 89 mm more stroke than the 1800, plus armored exhaust valves, eight crankshaft bearings and - be careful! – an injector-lubricated camshaft. (Oh, how easy it would have been to capture attention and hearts at the Oktoberfest with such a detail - conspiratorially whispered in the ear. Now: cancelled, the Wiesn.)

As always, we weigh the scales first, which one is solid , fully tanked car certified the lightness of 1,177 kilos. They are not quite in balance, 53 percent press on the front axle. Back in the pits, installing gauges, GPS sensors on the roof and on the track before rain sets in again and prevents us from being able to document the car's modesty. It is precisely in her that true greatness is shown.

The 2000 doesn't need to show off with speed information. Instead, his speedometer always shows too little - not so much that you rattled in speed cameras because of it. But enough to make this BMW always feel a little quicker than other cars (that's so awesome you could almost assume it was on purpose). The feeling of special vehemence is further supported by the fact that the restraint of the tempo numbering is countered by an offensively performed background noise. It is also based on the short translation and the narrow gear steps of the four-speed gearbox.

Whether it helps the acceleration to full of temperament? To clarify this, we stop in the run-out zone of the hairpin bend. The speed increases, the clutch engages, the rear tires rub, off we go.As is so often the case, the increase in speed should not only be measured in terms of time, but also in terms of intensity, even fervor. With that, the BMW stretches the straight ahead, the engine revs up to thousands of revs, after each gear change it starts a few hundred revs lower with the same impetuosity in order to storm towards 6-5 again. The zero-to-hundred value of 14 seconds does not adequately express the eventfulness of this process. We would like to point out that the 2000 was not a second faster in the test 50 years ago in the same place; piloted by gentlemen who - it was a test car, not a classic - must have driven it much more sharply (so they said back then, full of pride as a driver) than we do today.

For this we can now immerse the events of the brake test in the gentle light of the approximate, because the results achieved by the disc-drum system are roughly where we expected them to be. Let's not dwell on that, but turn onto the straight in front of the grandstand, where the pylons stand for lane changes and slalom.

And stop. Because the 2000 can be steered along them with centimeter precision. The brilliant clarity of the sedan with its skinny roof pillars is hardly less important than the effectiveness of the indirect ZF-Gemmer steering. Like any great work, the handling of the 2000 should be seen in its time. At that time it was considered rebellious and sharp. The understanding of sharpness has become more acute over the decades. In view of this, the BMW drives nimbly through the slalom and puts itself into it properly. If it gets a little hot in the front tires, it stops understeering, jerks its tail when the load changes and finds that frivolity that still characterizes the class of new BMWs to this day.

We measure the interior and turning circle and set off on the fuel consumption journey, which extends to the meeting point with the van that has already driven ahead. What a sublime car the 2000 is, its stately bonnet stretching toward the horizon on the A6 as the engine accelerates it in high gear with the urge of early torque.

Spring chill flutters through the hinged windows, while the chassis absorbs bumps more peacefully than expected. Although BMW in the 2000 extra set back the spring pivot points on the semi-trailing arm rear axle, it is considered an uncomfortable car. Well, convenience is only a matter of time, we think when we finally pull up next to the van.

It's waiting next to the car wash of our other regular tank. When he drives away in the BMW 2000, we wistfully wave after him. Then we stand again without an old car in the drizzle at a gas station and look crippled from the – you guessed it – spring wash.


We only have five stars.There's one for this century four-cylinder, one for the ease of handling, two because the car saved BMW, and one plus a kink(s) for the style-defining design.


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