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Things from the past, from the remote past are viewed in a special way. Ordinary things can turn into the most meaningful, beautiful, and coveted stuff on earth. Just some time – plus or minus a century – is needed for it.
Helmut Schlosser knows the issue. He’s the man who assembled the BMW 303 with his own hand from a rusty heap of scrap he had bought blindfold. It took him nearly a decade of monumental efforts and heaven knows how much money to complete the setting-up and restoration. Still, he regrets about nothing. How can he if now he drives the extremely rare BMW 303 of 1933-34, the auto that was the first to adopt the manufacturer’s widely known ‘kidney’ grille as well as the first BMW vehicle to use a six-cylinder engine?
However, this isn’t a review about the 303 model. It’s about the one that was rolled out a little bit later, in 1937, - the BMW 320. The BMW 320 substituted the 319 model and was followed by the BMW 321. For well-known reasons, the automaker had to cease its production in 1938.
Autos produced since the 1930s were very much different from the products of the 1920s. Apart from having been more technologically advanced (some of them already offered an automatic gearbox; V8, V12, and V16 engines; and even heaters and radios), cars built in the 30s featured smoother exterior lines and were, what’s most important, more passenger oriented. It means that automakers started to make vehicles not with the only aim – to transport people or luggage from point A to point B. They started to care about how comfortable their journey from point A to point B would be. In fact, cars of that time must correspond with our perception of the modern vehicles.
The BMW 320’s body was made of steel. The car was delivered as sedan and convertible. It was 177.2 inch long, 60.6 inch wide, and 59.1 inch high with a 108.3-inch wheelbase. It had a contemporary appearance and more rounded, sleeker features in comparison to its predecessors. The car, which curb weight was 2,204.6 lb, could accommodate 4-5 passengers.
The BMW 320 sedan and convertible are identical in terms of dimensions and drivetrain. The differences lie just in a convertible top’s availability of course and number of units produced (there were 2,416 sedans rolled out while the convertibles were even rarer – there have been just 1,635 units ever made).
The BMW 320 (regardless of a body style) was powered by a 2.0-litre 45-hp naturally aspirated inline six-cylinder engine mounted at the front. Its fuel capacity was 50 litres and fuel consumption rate was 9.5 litres per 100 kilometres. Its top speed was 115 km/h. It was a rear-wheel-drive car offering a four-speed manual transmission and 200 mm clearance.
At the time, the BMW 320 was valued at 5,250 Reichsmarks that was about £1,000 back then. According to modern standards, the car would have cost approximately £31,000. In other words, in the 30s the BMW 320 cost as much as the today’s BMW 320i Convertible.
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