BMW 600 microcar was another tiny model of the company based on the 2-seater Isetta 300. BMW’s financial woes in the mid-1950s were in no small part attributable to the yawning chasm between the tiny Isetta bubble car and the slow-selling, heavily loss-making luxury models. Lack of cash ruled out the fresh middle-class car for newly mobile families that the company really needed, so managers decided as a stopgap solution to extend the bubble-car concept with the much larger 600 model.
Seating four and featuring a side door in addition to the opening front door—with steering wheel still attached—the BMW 600 used the firm’s twin-cylinder fan-cooled motorcycle engine, tucked away in the tail. After a brief flutter of success in 1958, the 600 disappeared almost without trace, the victim of its ungainly microbus looks. Today it is remembered mainly as a marketing curiosity, but also as the first car to feature semitrailing-arm rear suspension—the chassis feature that would later give BMWs the handling edge over their Mercedes rivals.
The chassis had a wheelbase of 1,700 millimetres (67 in), a front track of 1,220 millimetres (48 in), and a rear track of 1,160 millimetres (46 in). Overall dimensions – 2900 mm (2960 mm for the US version) x 1400 mm x 1375 mm. The BMW 600 was powered by the 582 cc twin-cylinder engine from the BMW R67 motorcycle. It has an output of 19.5 hp (14.5 kW) at 4500 rpm mounted behind the rear wheels. Top speed is about 100 kph. During production from August 1957 to 1959, about 35,000 were built.