The car that has propelled BMW into the classic car scene is the BMW 501. The 501 is a luxury saloon car that was manufactured from 1952 to 1058, and is actually the first car manufactured and sold by BMW after World War II. It has a design that’s well ahead of its time, and used materials that exude luxury and quality. Its sleek, sloping design has earned the 501 its “Baroque Angels” nickname. Even though the 501 and its close relative, 502 were discontinued in 1958, its impact on the automotive industry still remains, as it’s one of the most iconic classic cars that was produced by BMW.
The BMW 501 was designed using an all new platform using a perimeter frame, double A-arm suspension with torsion bar springs at the front and on the rear, a live axle with torsion bar springs. This is clearly a sign of manufacturing innovation for BMW, as they prepare the 501 for mass production, because it is a vehicle that’s intended for public use. Even though it is the first vehicle released by BMW after the Second World War, you won’t see a hint of inferiority in power and performance. The 501 packs a punch underneath its hood, as it is powered by BMWs pre-war 2-liter six cylinder engine. This engine had its cylinder head revised and the inlet manifold has been given a new design as well. Overall, the BMW 501s engine retained its capacity of 1,971cc and developed 65 horsepower.
A clear improvement in the BMW 501 is the improved legroom for passengers. The car feels roomy even if it’s filled to capacity of four or five people. This improved legroom could be attributed to the remote gearbox placement, since the four speed gearbox is not bolted to the engine. This remote placement may have resulted to a more complicated linkage to the shifter as a vague shifter action, but it’s all worth it because the improved legroom added a feel of comfort and luxury for the car.
So, what makes the BMW 501 a classic? This classic status could be attributed to the innovation borne out of this car. Aside from being the first car released by BMW after the war, it also has features that put it well ahead of its time. It has a robust chassis that provides passive safety to car goers, the remote gearbox that gave more legroom, and a fuel tank placed in a protected area in the car to minimize the risk of fire. BMW 501 started all of these things, and most car makers based their designs off these innovations.
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