BMW 3/20 Classic Cars for Sale

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BMW 3/20

The BMW 3/20 holds the prestigious record of being the first 4-wheel vehicle to be designed entirely by BMW, and also the first to feature the famous blue, white and black logo on its grille.

The early days of the BMW 3/20

The Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) is a German manufacturer of luxury automobiles, founded in 1916. Initially producing aircraft engines (as reflected by their propeller-like logo), the company subsequently shifted production to motorcycles and automobiles in the 1920s. The BMW 3/20 'city car' model was designed for the middle class masses by Alfred Böning and Max Friz. Originally manufactured in 1932, it superseded the discontinued BMW 3/15. BMW 3/20 price started at 2,650 Reischmarks ($1,043) and had a modern curved design that embodied the fashionable Bauhaus (a German art school) style. The BMW 3/20 boasted more interior space than its predecessor and had a 2,150 mm wheelbase, 3,200 mm length, 1,420 mm width, 1,550 mm height and had a top speed of 50 mph. The 4-seater saloon version weighed 650 kg; a four-seater cabriolet and 2-seater convertible coupé were also issued.

The BMW 3/20 used a similar but larger Austin Seven-based engine (782cc displacement) as the 3/15, however, its crankshaft ran in plain bearings rather than roller bearings. The engine was also redesigned to include a water pump and an overhead valve cylinder head, allowing the engine to generate 20 hp and a taxable horsepower (calculated based on cylinder dimensions) rating of 3 PS, hence the model name of 3/20. It also featured a backbone rear-drive chassis, independent front suspension and a swing axle independent rear suspension. The standard body was made by Daimler-Benz in Germany.

Variations on the BMW 3/20 theme

The BMW 3/20 had four numbered 'Automobil München' iterations: AM-1, AM-2, AM-3 and AM-4. The AM-1 had a 3-speed manual gearbox whereas the AM-4 had a 4-speed gearbox. The engineer and journalist Josef Ganz was contracted as a design consultant for the BMW 3/20 AM-1 as he had previously criticised the BMW 3/15's suspension system in a motoring magazine. Production of the BMW 3/20 model ceased in 1934 and was superseded by a 6-cylinder model, the BMW 303 saloon.