The 700 story
By the end of 1959 BMW presented the '700'.
It soon proved to be the beginning of a new era for BMW...
The driving force behind the '700' project was not only the BMW development department but in particular the Viennese BMW importer Wolfgang Denzel, a friend of the then BMW boarch chairman, Dr. Richter-Brohm. Largely on his own initiative, Denzel began to develop a sporty small car for BMW, having had some experience of automobile construction himself. The technical basis was to be provided by the chassis and the engine of the BMW 600. This small four-seater, derived from the Isetta, had remained somewhat unsuccessful due to it's unorthodox body, not because of technical shortcomings.
Denzel entrusted the Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti with the design of the body. In mid January 1958, Denzel then received the official development contract, and a body design was developed in his workshops.
On July 30th 1958, Denzel presented the finished prototype of the Coupé to the BMW board of directors, as developed by himself in collaboration with Michelotti. All in all, the car's modern Italian influenced style was well received. However, a certain amount of criticism was expressed, in particular on the question of suitability for economical manufacture. The BMW design department under Wilhelm Hofmeister was then instructed to come up with a competing design, though retaining the characteristic stylistic elements of Michelotti prototype. At the same time, Helmut-Werner Bönsch, the new BMW director of product planning and marketing, encouraged the development of a saloon version.