BMW’s museum round the corner from its headquarters in Munich is a treasure trove of rarities, racers, design icons and concepts. We’ve had a wander round, camera in hand, to snap a few highlights.
First exhibit in the museum is a load of balls. These wire-suspended orbs constantly rearrange themselves into abstract patterns, occasionally taking the shape of an aerofoil or a car silhouette. It’s oddly mesmerising.
This is where the BMW story starts as far as four-wheeled transport goes. The 1929 BMW 3/15PS was an evolution of a car called the Dixi, itself a version of the Austin Seven built under licence in Germany. This is the two-seater van version, available from 1930.
Every evolution of the BMW 3-series is under the museum’s roof, but arguably more elegant than all of them is the 1600 saloon of the ’60s (below), considered to be the direct forerunner of the 3-series.
With Bernie Ecclestone at the books, Gordon Murray at the drawing board and Nelson Piquet at the wheel, the turbocharged Brabham BT52 swept all before it to take the 1983 F1 title. This was the ‘grenade engine’ era – with the boost of the scale, the 1.5-litre BMW four-cylinder motor developed as much as 850bhp in qualifying trim. Race engines mustered ‘only’ 640bhp or thereabouts, to make sure they went the distance.
Current-gen 3-series full-size clay model interesting enough, but what’s in the hall underneath it slightly more so.
The i8 production car looks futuristic but it’s easy to forget just how expressive the original Vision Efficient Dynamics concept car was, first surfaced at the Frankfurt show in 2009.
Find BMW’s naming system confusing? This probably won’t help.
That’s the BMW Z8 from the Brosnan-era Bond flick The World Is Not Enough in the background. Easy to see how (and why) it cribbed its design cues from the fifties 507 in the foreground.
One of the famous Art Car series, with Roy Lichtenstein the artist behind this CSL racer’s livery.
The American Le Mans Series-conquering M3 GTR from 2001. Before being wheeled into the museum the GTR was temporarily brought out of retirement to win the Nurburgring 24 hours in 2004 and 2005.
And that’s how big the Gurney flap on the rear wing is, if you wondering.
Believe it or not, the E30 BMW M3 is the most successful Touring Car of all time, racking up an unbeaten number of race wins across Europe through the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Not much can upstage a space hopper-orange BMW M1 for presence...
...except perhaps the original BMW Turbo concept car it evolved from. Only two were built; one’s in the museum, the other under wraps in BMW’s private collection in a warehouse across town together with all kinds of other treasures. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take a camera inside...