Update 7/30/18: After being listed for sale three years ago at $34,500, this BMW 700 racer is back – now listed as a 1961, oddly, and with an opening bid at $32,500. It still seems very unlikely to sell but is neat to see!
Though Germany has gained a reputation as a nation of drivers, the reality is that in both pre and post-World War II periods, the average German couldn’t afford many of the cars that are synonymous with German engineering. However, the “German Economic Miracle”, in part assisted by the Marshall Plan as an attempt to avoid the pitfalls of what had created World War II in the first place (thanks, Versailles Treaty!) put Germany at the forefront of European economies as the 1960s got rolling. It was then that we saw the growth of the German automobile industry into what we associate it with today. BMW also grew during this period, from near collapse in the 1950s to a viable – albeit small – company in the 1960s. At least part of that success is thanks to the development of the 700. Rear engine, air cooled and powered by a BMW motorcycle “twin” flat-2, the body was penned by Giovanni Michelotti – responsible for some of the most celebrated designs from Ferrari, Maserati and Triumph. However, he’s probably better known by BMW fans for developing the Neue Klasse designs including the venerable 2002. To my eye, though, the simple BMW 700 in Coupe form was the best looking of the Michelotti BMW designs:
Update 1/30/19: The 700LS remains available on eBay here and via the seller’s site, now for only $12,900.
Update 6/1/18 – the BMW 700LS has dropped a further $2,000 in ask to $19,500.
Update 2/6/18 – Unsurprisingly, the 700LS remains available on reserve auction (it is $21,900 on their site)
Normally, our dual posts have two comparable cars to consider. But while typically that manifests itself in one model, one price point or one performance group, today it’s something very different.
Although both of today’s cars come from one marque – BMW – there is literally and figuratively a huge chasm of development between them. There’s also a vast gulf between performance, desirability and price. Yet each reflected the time point in which it was made; the austere 1960s, emerging from the fog of war into a bustling economy when average Germans could for the first time contemplate automobile ownership, and the exotic 1980s, with its new computer designs and technology rapidly forcing car designs forward. For the company, each car represented the future in many ways even if the results and their impact was so vastly different.
When considering a restoration project, many things factor into one’s decision. You need to first pick a model that you find particularly interesting or intriguing. For me, that includes choosing something a little outside the mainstream interests. It’s why I prefer the Audi V8 to the S4/S6, for example. It helps if it’s something that you can afford, as well – for example, you could decide to restore a very early 356 Porsche rather than a 911, but if you can’t afford to buy one it’s no good. Then you need to weigh parts availability and cost along with your restoration goals; will this be a driver, a survivor or a 100 point show car? The costs vary for each, as will the amount of detail work involved. For me, while I love to see pristine 100 point show cars, I prefer something that can be driven to the show and home. My Audi, for example, is certainly not pristine – but it also doubles as a track car, and with nearly a quarter million miles on the clock I’m proud of some of its battle scars even if they make me sigh from time to time. So, when something very unique pops up that has potential to be different, special and really stand out from the crowd, I take notice. The 2002ti turbo from Monday is a perfect example of this; a car that needs a tremendous amount of restoration but it really different than everything else out there. In that vein, here’s a collection of the rare, rear-engined BMW 700s in various configurations and states along with a WW2-era 321 chassis. Why limit yourself to only one project when you could have six?