We all have our own personal dream classics. Which in turn leads to our own personal dream garage. We also all have varying financial means. As such, we have different ways of achieving our dream garage too.
Anyone who knows me, will know that I genuinely appreciate just about any classic car. However, they’ll also know that I have a profound weakness for M10-engined BMW’s from the 60’s and 70’s. So steering clear of the utterly unobtainable like a Maserati A6G, Jaguar XK-SS, Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale and the like, and also accepting the fact that my dream garage is constantly changing – sometimes on an hourly basis depending on my mood and latest fancy – I quite often find myself in a dreamland of neat little 60’s and early 70’s BMW’s. There are so many really cool variants too, and all those which played a significant role in establishing BMW as the brand for sporting saloons. Many of those saloons have become legends in their own right, yet we also all know that an elegant coupé will still always have the upper hand when it comes to style and visual impact. What is it with coupés? These alluring GT’s. I can’t deny that I too find them fascinating and often dreamworthy to a level that only few saloons can match.
The BMW 2000CS produced between 1965 and 1969 has by many often been regarded as the ugly duckling of BMW’s many grand coupés, but I have always seen the swan in that daring and different design. The rear end – with those slim rear lights set into that broad but not in any way obtrusive chrome strip – is light and elegant in a way only the Italian can normally manage. The lighthouse is just that – light! With a low window baseline, the lack of a B-pillar and ultraslim A- and C-pillars with the Hofmeister-kink accentuated by the chrome-surrounded BMW roundel on the base of the C-pillar, it simply defines what a GT-roofline ought to be shaped like. And then there’s the front. Oh dear, that front! It seems this is where all the criticism is always focused. Those big rectangular headlights clearly don’t appeal to everyone. Personally though, I’ve always found that they were merely daring and bold – a real statement. The tall kidneys have clear design cues from BMW’s magnificent pre-war 328, and BMW’s signature sharknose has a charming and very soft 60’s curvature to it, placing it solidly before the sharper edges of the 70’s. Add to this a beautiful wooden facia to match the best of British GT’s, and of course Alex von Falkenhausen’s amazing little 4-cylinder M10 engine matched to a pair of double 40mm Solex sidedraught carb’s, and it all adds up to a rather tasty coupé dream.
With 13,691 examples of the 2000C & 2000CS produced, it’s however not exactly super rare in terms of exquisite coupés. Enter the BMW 1600GT of which the world only got 1,259 examples produced for a very short 15 months from 1967 to 1968. The sceptics would of course argue that this isn’t a real BMW. In many ways, they are of course right, as it was very heavily based on the Glas 1300GT and Glas 1700GT produced between 1964 and 1967. But when BMW acquired the Glas factory in Dingolfing, BMW adapted the lithe mini-GT into their model range by adding their trademark kidneys to the front and the simple round 02 rearlights to the rear, in place of the four round lights found on the original Glas version. More importantly though, they also swapped the Glas engine for BMW’s 105hp gem of a rev-happy 1600 M10-engine found in the sporting BMW 1600ti, and they even binned the leaf-sprung rear suspension, and adapted the much superior 02 rear subframe for the GT complete with independent semi-trailing rear arms and all. As a result, despite the accolades for the design going very much to Glas, I still feel there’s sufficient BMW dna in there to justify calling the 1600GT a proper BMW – and a stunningly attractive and appealing one at that. Luckily though, BMW didn’t change a single thing on the dashboard besides the steering wheel. Unlike the 2000CS there’s no wood to be found here, the whole appearance being much more business-like and to the point in sober black plastics and vinyl. But it’s certainly no less stylish with its broad wrap-around binnacle housing a very full selection of instruments to keep the driver well informed. To me this mini-GT has a dashboard to challenge even the most exotic of the 60’s über-GT’s such as Gordon Keeble GK1, Maserati Mistral and series 3 Lamborghini Espada.
Surely, that’s as good as it gets in terms of M10-engined coupés? Well… almost. There is of course the utterly fabulous one-off BMW 2002 GT4 designed by Frua in 1969 and then his second attempt from the following year. The general design and the roofline in particular is every bit the archetypical coupé that the 1600GT is. But it’s a bigger car altogether, and the use of various parts from the big brother BMW E3 saloon – such as the double headlights – give the 2002 GT4 a more grown-up and serious character. I’ve always admired Frua’s work on contemporary Italian cars ranging right from petite Fiat’s to glamorous Maserati’s. Needless to say, for a BMW-nutter like myself, the prospect of combining his design talent with Bavarian engineering is a truly delicious combination. As mentioned, Frua finished two different 2002 GT4’s both with unique designs. The first is arguably the more delicate design of the two and possibly even more coherent. Owning either one of these one-off’s would obviously make me feel like the luckiest BMW enthusiast in the world, but given the choice I would have to opt for the second one, with a lower roofline and that vast C-pillar giving the coupé such presence. To further emphasize the Italian connection, the GT4 sits on a gorgeous set of 14” Campagnolo magnesium spider-web wheels, and on the inside you sit low behind the big E3 sourced dashboard with two big, clear, white-on-black VDO dials directly in front of you, accompanied by two smaller dials placed between them. Mechanically the GT4 is identical with the 2000CS utilising the twin-carb’ed 120hp 2-litre M10 engine, which might not equate to headline-grabbing performance, but still offers plenty of both torque and outright power for relaxed grand touring, while exuding all the right sounds from the well-engineered chain-driven overhead cam with sidedraught carbs. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a one-off? How’s that for exclusivity…
While this collection of 60’s BMW coupés are obviously nowhere near the heady leagues of aforementioned A6G, XK-SS and Tipo 33, most would probably still agree that it’s not exactly an easily attainable trio to have parked in your garage. Especially not as one of them is effectively a one-off prototype, which BMW Classic have long since secured for their impressive collection of historically important BMW’s. But to my own ecstatic delight, I have actually achieved just that! I now own my ultimate dream garage of 60’s BMW coupés. The pillarless 2000CS in fetching Granada red and sitting on stock 14” steel rims with elegant stainless steel trims. The rakish little 1600GT in Turf green with a scrumptious Cognac interior. Uhmmm… and bizarrely with the 2002 GT4 in the light blue metallic in which it was introduced in 1970, which admitted is perhaps a bit odd considering the Frua coupé has been silver metallic since the mid-80’s and all the way up through BMW Classic’s ownership. Still, I won’t let such a minor detail deter. I am absolutely over the moon with joy, and just can’t help myself from standing there in awe, while I admire these three stunning coupés now in my little collection…
Of course, there is the slight issue of me now having to figure out a way of shrinking myself to a 43rd scale of my current size, as only then will I be able to fully enjoy my three coupés. Oh bother! But at least, within my financial means, I have indeed achieved my dream garage. Share with us which extremes have you gone to in order to achieve your dream garage?
ViaRETRO bonus information: If you too dream of adding these three fabulous coupés to your collection, you’ll most likely have to muster a fair amount of patience. All three 1:43 scale models are NLA from their manufacturers, so you’ll need to search the world wide web and hope for the best. The BMW 2000CS is by Minichamps and has been NLA for ages now. IXO have recently launched a similar model which is also quite cheap. But it’s sadly not particularly good, with dimensions being somewhat off and colours being wrong too. Both the 1600GT and the 2002 GT4 are more recent editions, yet they were both made in very limited numbers and sold out quick. The 1600GT is from Neo Scale Models while the 2002 GT4 is from Matrix.