: Ever wondered why BMW was such a latecomer to the U.S. market?



orconn
10-09-10, 08:05 PM
Now that the mark has become a well estabblished "Yuppie" status symbol as an entry level luxury car and executive sedan, have you ever wondered why it wasn't until the nineteen seventies that BMW cars instead of mortorcycles became known in the U.S.?

I think the answer lies with the large (for Europe) luxury cars produced by BMW in the 1950s and '60s. Google BMW 501 and 502 for some insight into BMW's thinking at that time. Certainly one of the uglier German production designs in an era when a Borgward (fat little cousin Susies) was considered pretty and the Lloyd Goliath actually found buyers. The BMW 501 was notable as the first post-war German car to have a V-8 engine even if it did only produce 73 HP. Mercedes had found a market niche with their "Ponton" bodied 180's and 280S's, non too comely themselves, among the more affluent tweed jacket set.

No, it was up to the modest but playful BMW 1600 to gain attention in the u.S. and the famous 2002 to solidly establish a BMW as desirable on these shores.

Jesda
10-09-10, 10:55 PM
I hardly recognize BMW anymore. The magic that used to stir emotion is fading.

A 501 that came up on Google:
http://www.cartype.com/pics/6479/full/bmw_501_52.jpg

orconn
10-09-10, 11:23 PM
Yup, that's the beauty ... even better from different angles.

Night Wolf
10-10-10, 12:01 AM
Now that the mark has become a well estabblished "Yuppie" status symbol as an entry level luxury car and executive sedan, have you ever wondered why it wasn't until the nineteen seventies that BMW cars instead of mortorcycles became known in the U.S.?

I think the answer lies with the large (for Europe) luxury cars produced by BMW in the 1950s and '60s. Google BMW 501 and 502 for some insight into BMW's thinking at that time. Certainly one of the uglier German production designs in an era when a Borgward (fat little cousin Susies) was considered pretty and the Lloyd Goliath actually found buyers. The BMW 501 was notable as the first post-war German car to have a V-8 engine even if it did only produce 73 HP. Mercedes had found a market niche with their "Ponton" bodied 180's and 280S's, non too comely themselves, among the more affluent tweed jacket set.

No, it was up to the modest but playful BMW 1600 to gain attention in the u.S. and the famous 2002 to solidly establish a BMW as desirable on these shores.

I think the same can be said for BMW in other parts of the world as well. The 2002 is what realy put them on the map and made them well known.

Before that car, they were known for things like this:

http://www.diseno-art.com/images/bmw_isetta_open.jpg

The only new BMW that really even appeals to me is the 1-series.... that car is closest to (atleast what I consider) a "real" BMW. The size/weight of it, not totally loaded with a bunch of junk (for the era, compared to the higher series) and the convertible is still a cloth top.... the hardtop convertible which the new 3-series is dosen't appeal to me at all... sure it may look like a hardtop car with the top up (ehhh, good thing or not, up to the individual) and quieter on the highway witht he top up, but none of that matters to me, I see more weight and especially far more things to go wrong in the future when they are old and cheap enough that I would buy.

Even with the 1-series, I used to really like the 135i, and no doubt the twin-turbo is a world class engine that has insane amounts of power for what it is, but I think I would prefer the 128i. I've been reading comparisons, and it seems like the 128i is more of the "work for speed" type of car compared to the "go faster = hit throttle" type, though I'm sure compared to my old BMW's, it would feel like a rocket. Plus, I like the idea and sound of a high revving N/A BMW I6, not that a turbo sounds bad. Throw in added maintenace (not really a big deal for me overall) and no doubt more expensive insurance... and I think I'd go for the 128i, though I'd like to drive both someday.

Other then the 1-series, for me the rest of the line really died off with the e46 3-series, e39 5-series and e38 7-series. While not as well built and long lasting as the old 80s tanks, these cars atleast had exceptional styling inside and out and are cars I could see myself owning if I was in that particular market, the new models really don't do much for me.

It seems like BMW has lost (or gotten away from?) a lot of the "yuppie" image they had in the 90s and 00s, maybe it is just the way I see it.... though simply owning a "BMW" stirs up all sorts of stuff. Just today I took the 528e in town and stopped at the pharmacy. They have a drive-thru and normally I take the Jeep, which I and then level with the people inside, in the 528e, the car was so much lower, I had to look up at the older lady inside. She sees me and says "Hey Rick, not driving your Jeep today?" so we chat and she only has a limited view of the car, which would mostly consist of the mis-matched black hood, trashed paint on the roof and entire interior that is missing, so she asks "What kind of a car is this?" to which I reply "1987 BMW 5-series"..... as soon as I said that her facial expression looks surprised and she says "oh wow.... a BMW, thats a nice car".... I was thinking to myself.... I paid 500 bucks for this thing that was one step away from being scrapped, it looks like a junkyard hack.... and it is still getting the "wow, a BMW?!?" comments. It got similar reactions at work as well.

I don't get it, guys at work go and finance a $30k truck and don't think anything of it, but then my $500 worn out 5-series brings up those comments? It happened a lot more with the e30 convertible, which atleast was all one color and shiney... A few occassions when in/around it at the parking lot where I work, people passing by would say "man, wish I had a BMW", "must be nice" or "that had to cost a whole lot".... a car I paid $2,500 for... I just don't get it, and these people owned new/newer vehicles that were no doubt financed. I really think it is like what my friend said - people don't take any of that into consideration all they see is "shiney red + BMW badge = $$$" He has gotten similar comments in his modified '90 Miata... people think it's a brand new exotic sports car etc...

Jesda
10-10-10, 12:10 AM
The switch to a metal folding roof on the 3-series annoys me. It added some hideous cut lines in the sheet metal where your eyes don't expect to see them.

I got sneered at in the Range Rover once. Drunk girl was yelling on her phone, bf tried to shut her up, she goes, "Its just some rich dude in a Range Rover I don't give a f***". I continued to fill my tank and pretended not to hear her. The guy with her looked embarrassed. I think the only car I ever got unsolicited praise on by strangers was the silver 2004 325 convertible. Women loved the car -- but the love didnt really transfer to the driver. :histeric:


http://www.usautoparts.net/bmw/models/vintage/507.htm
The above is a 507. :drool:
http://www.usautoparts.net/bmw/models/vintage/507.htm

Playdrv4me
10-10-10, 03:59 AM
The best balls to the wall BMW convertible you can own right now without having to deal with that stupid hard top is the 2004-'06 330CiC "ZHP". The ZHP was a special performance package and really maxed out what was possible from the N/A 3.0L I6. No "M.O.S.T" bus electronic bullshit running through the car's veins either. Yes, you could get an M3, but it's a tooth shattering experience that gets old fast in town. The 330 ZHPs were fun, fast and civil when you needed them to be. They are also drop dead f***ing gorgeous...

http://pat.newtonracing.org/zhp/zhp_vert1.jpg

Night Wolf
10-10-10, 08:28 AM
damn.... I never even knew about that car, and I like it a lot! Were they limited production? Do they bring a premium over a similar non ZHP car?

I~LUV~Caddys8792
10-10-10, 10:24 AM
Up on the other side of the Twin Cities, near my friend Brandon's house, I saw an E28 for sale in somebody's front yard yesterday. I didn't stop to look at it (yet), but I might be inclined to next time I'm up there, which may be today, I don't know. Of course, being a private seller and not a dealership, I wouldn't test drive it and get their hopes up, because I'm not going to buy it. If it were at a dealer, I might give them some BS story just so I can take it out for a spin and see what the hubbub is about.

On a related note, I saw a real nice E38 750iL last night in downtown Minneapolis in the warehouse district where all the hot bars and clubs are. It was all black and totally stock. I actually think that the 740iL is the better looker there, because it's got better wheels. Anyways though, I've always thought that the E38, specifically the short wheelbase model, is the best looking BMW ever.

Night Wolf
10-10-10, 10:55 AM
Up on the other side of the Twin Cities, near my friend Brandon's house, I saw an E28 for sale in somebody's front yard yesterday. I didn't stop to look at it (yet), but I might be inclined to next time I'm up there, which may be today, I don't know. Of course, being a private seller and not a dealership, I wouldn't test drive it and get their hopes up, because I'm not going to buy it. If it were at a dealer, I might give them some BS story just so I can take it out for a spin and see what the hubbub is about.

The thing with test driving an 80s BMW - it really depends on condition. Not so much cosmetic, but the underpinnings. A trashed suspension (bushings and all), more than anything - affects the whole car. When I first got my e30 325iC, the entire suspension was trashed... nearly every bushing, joint and connection point. Surprisingly the car drove "well" but compared to my e30 318iC, that when I was done with it - have an overall "maintained" suspension - it handled incredibly different.... the suspension actually worked.

If you wanted to get a feel for what the cars are really about, it would be best to drive a known good condition/maintained car (not taking owners words when selling a car), as a neglected, worn out car could give you the wrong impression.

The entire suspension system is to an 80s era BMW what the engine is to a Z28 or Cobra.


On a related note, I saw a real nice E38 750iL last night in downtown Minneapolis in the warehouse district where all the hot bars and clubs are. It was all black and totally stock. I actually think that the 740iL is the better looker there, because it's got better wheels. Anyways though, I've always thought that the E38, specifically the short wheelbase model, is the best looking BMW ever.

Late in the e38 run they released a neat machine - 740i Sport.

http://www.dragtimes.com/images/19463-2001-BMW-740i.jpg

I~LUV~Caddys8792
10-10-10, 10:59 AM
The thing with test driving an 80s BMW - it really depends on condition. Not so much cosmetic, but the underpinnings. A trashed suspension (bushings and all), more than anything - affects the whole car. When I first got my e30 325iC, the entire suspension was trashed... nearly every bushing, joint and connection point. Surprisingly the car drove "well" but compared to my e30 318iC, that when I was done with it - have an overall "maintained" suspension - it handled incredibly different.... the suspension actually worked.

Yeah, that's what my friend's friend with that '84 633csi said, but he also said you can still buy all those bushings and suspension components from a BMW dealer of OEM quality, replace them all and have it ride and handle as though it's brand new, no matter how many miles are on the car it's self.

Night Wolf
10-10-10, 11:16 AM
Yeah, that's what my friend's friend with that '84 633csi said, but he also said you can still buy all those bushings and suspension components from a BMW dealer of OEM quality, replace them all and have it ride and handle as though it's brand new, no matter how many miles are on the car it's self.

Dealer for extreme amounts of $$$.... most enthusiasts known of Pelican and Bavauto.... but AutohausAZ and RM European usually offer even better prices, all OEM or OES as well.... bring the cost to maintain these old tanks basically the same as any similar age American car.

My 528e is a good example of that last statement. It was neglected, but now (mostly) brought up to mechanical spec - and it shows in the way it performs. Many fans say "miles don't mean a thing" and as hard as it was to first grasp that concept, it really is true. Beat on them, drive them hard, whatever.... heck even neglect - but bring them back to "baseline" condition and they may look like trash, but just won't give up and perform strong.

drewsdeville
10-10-10, 01:14 PM
Many fans say "miles don't mean a thing" and as hard as it was to first grasp that concept, it really is true.

Honestly, this has been my philosophy for all cars, regardless of brand. I don't find this statement to be exclusive to BMW's. It's been really hard passing this off to people, no one likes it. But really, cars are made to be driven and endure usage. Following manufacturers maintenance recommendations,miles really DON'T mean a thing. It's AGE that kills cars. If you could stop the aging process, you could drive a single car forever.

billc83
10-10-10, 01:18 PM
My reading of too many automotive books finally has a purpose!

Those little Isettas helped save the company; BMW was in financial dire straits after WWII. Then Mr. Quandt came in and bought up the majority of the company, taking a HUGE risk. Luckily for him, it worked out.

But yeah, the 1600 and 2002 single-handedly carved out BMW's niche.

Night Wolf
10-10-10, 01:44 PM
Honestly, this has been my philosophy for all cars, regardless of brand. I don't find this statement to be exclusive to BMW's. It's been really hard passing this off to people, no one likes it. But really, cars are made to be driven and endure usage. Following manufacturers maintenance recommendations,miles really DON'T mean a thing. It's AGE that kills cars. If you could stop the aging process, you could drive a single car forever.

I agree that it does apply to many cars.... though some take much better to it over the years.

A lot of it has to do with the initial build quality, materials used and way the car was built. Even things beyond what the eye sees - the quality of the steel used etc... plays a major role.

This logic -should- be able to be applied to many vehicles, but in many cases - it dosent, the car just starts falling apart around itself while the mechanics of it may be good.

ThumperPup
10-10-10, 02:07 PM
the only BMW i ever liked was the 850 and the mid 90s model of the 7 seriies not a fan of the other models for some reason

Jesda
10-10-10, 02:15 PM
You can get a pretty nice discount on OEM parts if you join BMWCCA.

Playdrv4me
10-10-10, 04:01 PM
damn.... I never even knew about that car, and I like it a lot! Were they limited production? Do they bring a premium over a similar non ZHP car?

I wouldn't really call them limited. There were obviously less of them built than regular 330s, but the "ZHP" was available in all variants for a few of the last production years of E46... Sedan, Coupe and Convertible. If I am not mistaken it was also available with all transmission choices... Auto, 6 Speed and the putrid SMG. Sometimes dealers do not even know they have a "special" model so I often see at least the sedans, in the same price range as the regular 330s with some eagle eyed searching.

Some great information from the Wiki':

Performance package (ZHP)

The performance package was an option given to E46 sedans from 2003 to 2005 and coupes from 2004-2006.[20] It included various aesthetic changes over the regular 3 series, as well as functional and mechanical enhancements. It had M badges on each of its Style 135 wheels, with additional M badging on the multi-function steering wheel and atop the 6-speed short throw weighted shifter. In addition to the standard color options, the ZHP was available in the "Motorsport-only" colors Silverstone Grey, Mystic Blue and Imola Red. It received the "M-Tech II" bodykit standard, 18-inch staggered Style 135 wheels, high gloss anthracite window trim, and the coupe received clear turn signals (headlights, side-markers, and tail-lights) instead of the amber turn signals found on the standard 330Ci.[20] The interior had also been modified with half cloth-half alcantara sports seats (optional upgrade to leather), an alcantara-wrapped sports steering wheel (switched to perforated leather in mid-2005), a shorter M-badged shift knob, anthracite colored cloth headliner, and aluminum "cubed" faux-carbon fiber interior trim (available in silver or black). The instrument gauge cluster was also modified with red needles and polished metal trim rings.[21]

In the performance department, the ZHP was equipped with the more aggressive BMW Performance camshafts and a DME tune to increase power from 225 hp (168 kW) to 235 hp (175 kW).[20] The engine redline was also raised from 6,500 rpm to 6,800 rpm to further take advantage of the new power band and higher power output achieved by the new camshafts at higher RPMs.[21] As a result of the higher redline, the nut that fastens the oil pump's sprocket came with threadlocker pre-applied from the factory to keep the nut from falling off.[22] The car also received a shorter final drive ratio which allows for faster acceleration; 3.07 vs. 2.93 for manuals and 3.64 vs. 3.38 for the automatic.[21] Car and Driver magazine track-tested the car, which returned a 0-60 mph time of 5.6 seconds and passed through the 1/4 mile in 14.3 seconds.[21] In 2003 the ZHP was the only non-M 3-series to feature a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission (the Steptronic automatic transmission was not available the first model year (2003), but it was offered from 2004-2006.

Suspension was modified over the standard suspension with firmer springs and dampers, larger anti-roll bars, stronger front control arm ball joints, a lower ride height, and slightly more negative camber.[21] The Style 135 wheels also came equipped with the much stickier compound, Michelin Pilot Sport tires, in a staggered configuration with 225/40-18 tires in the front and 255/35-18 tires in the back.[21]