BMW - History (11)
The war is over. As an extremely successful engine manufacturer in the end BMW is actually supported by four factories. The one in Berlin was completely destroyed, Eisenach was lost to the Russian occupation forces and Milbertshoven (Munich) was very badly damaged. Only the gigantic complex in Allach, because of its recent establishment and it being surrounded by forests, remained relatively intact. It was here that working life was first resumed. The Americans exploited the slowly returning staff for their purposes, and an almost industrially managed repairing system for their army vehicles developed, through this, it seemed that the factory would be supplied with work for the years to come.
The situation is vastly different in Munich. Constantly threatened with reparation cost and dismantling, and cut off from the outside world, they can barely hold their own. At least through the end of the war, the threat to the population of being killed, e.g., through air-raids, was no longer acute however, the hunger and the misery of the hard winter remained, it would in fact, still get worse. The irony in this dilemma: Valuable machinery was to be given to the allied forces, thus, also to the foreign competition. Indeed, due to this the factory had the competitive advantage of being able to replace these machines with more modern equipment.
Until about 1959 they would be able to keep their heads above water right up the last days of the war with the still effective payments from the air ministry and in particular, that which the Americans pay for the repair factory in Allach. After the manufacture of, among other things, saucepans, it was the production of the 250cc single cylinder (R 24) from the end of 1948 onwards, that brought in additional funds, the factory was however, nowhere near working at full capacity. In 1952 the 501, a baroque six-cylinder saloon followed, it was heavy and basically, an old construction type, and each car was burdened by a financial loss. The 502, with the first aluminium V8 built in series, solved the problem of the weight-to-power ratio, however, it also aggravated the production costs, thus lowering its market chances.
Occasionaly beautiful coupés appeared on the same basis, among them the legendary 507. All this does not change the fact that the model-range occupied only the extreme edges of the pallet.
Thus, it was a stroke of luck, that they discovered, at the Geneva Auto Salon of 1954, an egg-shaped vehicle made by the Iso company, (northern Italy) and after relatively short negotiations they got the OK to build them and were even given the production-machines for the coach-work as well. Of course it was powered by a 250cc motorcycle engine which opened, e.g., the circle of buyers who were in possession of the old class-4 drivers licence, which was actually intended for 2-wheeled vehicles only. 01/11