Unofficial BMW E24 website



Unofficial BMW E24 website

Unofficial BMW E24 website


Conception of a Big Coupe

6-Series sketch by Paul Bracq

Original 6-Series sketch by designer Paul Bracq.

During the opening years of the seventies' decade there were a number of widely differing influences within BMW that moulded the final form of the 6-Series coupes.


he most obvious inputs to the lastest large BMW coupe were those of Parisian styling chief Paul Bracq and the practical engineering of BMW's top technician in the 1965075 era, Bernhard Osswald. Yet we also have to recall the effect of the 1973/74 fuel crisis, and the politics surrounding the importation of BMWs into the USA, which was to assume its export market leadership, thus becoming vital in any BMW long term planning. From a practical engineering viewpoint BMW's facilities were getting better all the time, although they lacked treir own wind tunnel test facility until the eighties.

By 1977 BMW was hitting close to 30,000 sales in the USA.

In 1982, when America had still to fully recover from the recession, BMW North America at Montvale NJ reported the sale of an astonishing 52,000 units. “Astonishing” because the American car market as a whole was down 6 per cent and BMW were up a solid 25 per cent!

Most relevant amongst American laws affecting the 6-Series we see today, compared with what might have been, were those governing crash tests, in particular the inverted drop designed to probe roof crush-resistance. Such tests deterred BMW from importing the 3.0 CS in Federal from beyond the 1974 model year. The twin carburettor American CS derivative already hampered by body weight escalating to over 3250 lbs in its final year, the encumbrance of impact bumpers boosting overall length close to 190 inches.

Paul Bracq

Paul Bracq. 13 December 1933 — born in Bordeaux, France.

1950-53 — Boulle School of designs, Paris. First Prize, competition for Sculpture in wood.

1970-74 — Appointed Director at BMW in Munich, Germany. Design Direction of the 520, 2002 Turbo, 320, 6-Series coupe, 7-Series, 2 BMW Turbo concept cars as well as many projects for coupes and sedans 12 cylinders which were pre-empted by the oil crisis.

1974-96 — Returned to France - Chief of interior design at Peugeot for the 305, 505, 205, 405, 106, 406 and 206.

1991-Present days — Paul is vigorously continuing his art works for numerous collectors around the world.

American version of BMW 3.0 CS

American version of 3.0 CS with its wide bumpers.

BMW knew when they set out to style a successor to the 1968 coupes that it could no longer have the pillarless side glass with elegantly slim roof pillars.

Paul Bracq's concern, carried out with sophisticated skill in production, was to disguise the considerable strength of roof supports needed to pass such tests — and to guard for future legislation.

This led BMW into a 6-Series that was necessarily beefier than its predecessors.

For the frontal impact zones and the general crumple zone behaviour front and rear, commanded much development time and the provision “of perhaps a little more sheet metal than we would use today. In fact some of that extra weight has been taken out in later 6-Series”, in the words of one senior BMW engineering executive speaking in Munich during 1984.

Being chief stylist at BMW is not an easy job, particularly of you are a foreigner, for the natural desire of stylists is to explore the future and get such ideas into production. Whilst BMW, like Mercedes, have carefully cultivated a conservative image for their appearance with strong “family” ties.

BMW Turbo concept

Paul Bracq's influence was at its strongest in the BMW gullwing show cars of 1972/73. The strong downward sheep of the nose was also allowed, in much less striking style, to permeate the original 6-Series front. Styling drawings of the same period show 6-Series with retractable headlamps but otherwise recognisable coupe lines.

In 1972 Paul Bracq gave us his vision of BMW's future with the construction of a mid-engined, gullwingm 2-litre prototype with a distinct wedge theme and wide use of deformable materials front and rear that would regain their original shape after slight impacts. The BMW Turbo prototype proved a crowd-stopper at the Autumn round of motor shows and a second example of the transversely-engined Turbo was made at Michelotti: the first example can be seen in the BMW Museum at Munich.

1972 mid-engined BMW M1

A 1972 mid-engined BMW M1.




Only broad themes could be lifted from this extreme show cat — although it is as well to recall that BMW would be selling an Italo-Germanic mid-engined hybrid two seater by the close of the seventies (M1) — of which the most obvious in the 6-Series was the use of the bonnet vee (also a feature of other production BMWs by the time the 6 was seen) and the strong bias toward a downswept nose. The usual coupe themes of a large glass area for the cabin, plus the use of a long bonnet line were blended into existing trademarks such as the BMW grille outline and the rear window line.

The quadruple headlamp front end was tied firmly to the 7-Series saloon that would make its debut in 1977. When it came to facelift time in the eighties, both saloon and coupe shared a softer common theme for the front end.

Source: BMW 6-Series











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