Continuing with some 1960s vintage BMW history, we have to of course look at BMW’s major acquisition follow its successful staving off of Mercedes-Benz takeover. That company was Hans Glas GmbH. In the 1960s, this company briefly moved away from its bonds as constructor of sewing machines and licensed Goggomobils to produce some seriously pretty coupes; the 1300 GT and 1700 GT were the first and better known, but the 2600 and 3000V8 were no less striking. Glas employed same tactic as most major manufacturers for the designs, hiring an Italian to pen the lines. It was Pietro Frua who was responsible for the GT’s design, and while neither his name nor that of Glas resonate with the same authority as Pininfarina, Bertone, Ghia, Italdesign and Giugiaro, Gandini or even Michelotti (who produced a very similar design in the Triumph GT6), the combination was nonetheless a beautiful outcome for the German firm.
BMW purchased Hans Glas GmbH outright in 1966, gaining access to their Dingolfing plant and engineering team (incidentally, one of the first to use timing belts!). In the process, BMW’s technology and Glas’s designs merged, giving us the BMW 1600GT. The upgraded Glas 1700 GT offered 100 horsepower, and about 5,400 Glas-branded GTs were produced before the nameplate was eliminated in 1967. BMW produced a further 1,200 1600GTs before retooling the Dingolfing plant for E24 production in the mid-1970s.
Some fifty years on, that makes any of these cars quite rare, so even though this particular Glas isn’t the most pristine out there, it’s worth a look:
Two names appear in this post that aren’t nearly as widely recognized as they should be. The first is Andreas Glas, the proprietor of Hans Glas GmbH. In the 1960s, this company briefly moved away from its bonds as constructor of sewing machines and licensed Goggomobils to produce some seriously pretty coupes; the 1300GT and 1700GT were the first and better known, but the 2600 and 3000V8 were no less striking. That’s because of the second name involved in this post; Pietro Frua.
Frua isn’t nearly as well known as the other great Italian designers of the 1960s, but he had a unique style all his own. Well before Gandini and Giugiaro capitalized on the angular wedge era of automotive design, Frua’s low, long and flat lines stood sharply apart from the rounded arches that dominated Pininfarina, Ghia and Vignale. Glas used the designs, along with the pioneering use of timing belts, to offer a slightly different vision of German transportation. It was more emotive, more flowing and, frankly, more pretty than just about anything else in period from the major manufacturers. Indeed, many compared Frua’s work on the 2600 to the Maserati Sebring – exotic company, indeed, and fitting given that the designer went on to work on several of the Trident’s designs.
But Hans Glas GmbH was bought out outright by BMW, mostly for the procurement of the Dingolfing plant and engineering crew. Before BMW closed the chapter, though, they updated a few of the Glas designs with new Munich power, stuck some BMW badges on them and Viola! A new catalog of cars! This 1967 BMW Glas 3000 V8 is an example of the seldom seen period of BMW history:
Glas was one of those German automotive brands with limited reach that eventually got bought up by a larger company (BMW). But in the process, they were not only an innovator but created some attractive sports cars towards the end of their existence. The 1700GT was a larger engine derivative of the earlier 1300GT that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963, packing the same four cylinder that appeared in the BMW 1600. These coupes bodies were designed by Frua, perfectly proportioned and appearing much larger than they actually were in person. Nowadays, these are a rather obscure classic but they have a bit of a cult following in Europe. This 1966 1700GT for sale in The Netherlands would be the final year this car would be badged as a Glas, as it would become the BMW 1600GT until its demise in 1968.