The story of the BMW 700 is, uncharacteristically for BMW, one of corporate dissent, division, and intrigue. Frustrated by the big-bubble 600’s lukewarm reception and by the refusal of its designer, Willy Black, to change tack, managing director Richter-Brohm responded to an offer by his Austrian agent Wolfgang Denzel to produce a more attractive design using the same mechanical elements. Working in Vienna with Italian stylist Michelotti in conditions akin to those of a secret skunk works, Denzel mapped out the design of what would become the 700 and gained Richter-Brohm’s approval.
Midway through 1958 he unveiled the prototype at BMW’s Lake Starnberg hideout, and the response to the freshly styled, clean-lined design was instantly ecstatic. The following year the 700 appeared in sedan and coupe form at the Frankfurt show, triggering a rush of advanced orders. The design, which incidentally also featured BMW’s first monocoque construction, survived the firm’s near-bankruptcy in 1959 and went on to become a big seller in the marketplace as well as a strong performer on the motorsport scene.
BMW 700 used a bigger version of BMW R67 and the Model 600 engine. With a bore of 78 millimetres (3.1 in) and 73 millimetres (2.9 in) of stroke, the engine displaced 697 cubic centimetres (42.5 cu in). The engine originally used a single Solex 34PCI carburetor and had a compression ratio of 7.5:1, resulting in a power output of 30 horsepower (22 kW). In 1963 the engine’s power was increased to 32 hp. BMW sold more than 188,000 copies till the end of production in 1965. This was the last attempt of BMW company to enter the economy car market.
BMW 700 Coupe
BMW 700 Coupe version was presented at the 1959 Frankfurt Motor Show. After BMW received 25,000 orders for 700s, they started production in August 1959. The coupe has 2 doors and a slanted roof. It was generally well received, but objections were raised about the limited passenger space. In 1964, BMW introduced the 700 LS Coupe with a long-wheelbase and the Sport engine. 1,730 LS Coupes were built.
BMW 700 Saloon
The 2-door saloon was the second version in the 700 range. Production started in December 1959, several months after the Coupe. It has longer roof which increased space for rear passengers. The 700 Luxus replaced the original saloon in 1962. The wheelbase had been extended by 16 centimetres (6.3 in). The 700 LS, a simplified Luxus with a lower price, was introduced in 1963.
BMW 700 Sport
BMW introduced the Sport version in August 1960. It was available only as a coupe and got an uprated engine with a pair of Solex carburetors and a 9.0:1 compression ratio. Its output was 30 kW (40 hp). The Sport also had a rear anti-roll bar. The BMW 700 Sport was renamed to 700 CS in 1963.
BMW 700 Cabriolet
The cabriolet version was introduced shortly after the BMW 700 Sport. It was equipped only with the 40 hp engine from the Sport version. The convertible body was made by Karosserie Baur of Stuttgart. 2,592 convertibles were built.
BMW 700 RS
The 700 RS was a sports racing car based on the 700. It had a tubular frame chassis, special, lightweight, aerodynamic bodywork, and a double overhead camshaft engine tuned to 70 PS (51 kW; 69 hp). Hans Stuck campaigned the 700RS with success.