BMW launched the 502 coupe version at the 1954 Geneva Motor Show, aiming to create a sportier variant of the previous 501 model.
Despite sharing its chassis and bodywork with the 501, this new coupe model was initially fitted with an innovative 2.6L V8 engine (built out of lightweight components) that delivered 100 hp. The engine was mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox. Later on, a 3.2L variant of this V8 unit was introduced as an option, setting a new output standard of 120 mph. The 502’s engine was the first post-war V8 powerplant.
The car's chassis was more robust and offered better ratings in terms of front/side collision, while the fuel tank was positioned in such a way that it minimized the danger of an explosion in case of an accident. Other differences to the 501 model were the exterior chrome trims and interior design as well as the obvious 2-door coupe shape, standard features such as individual front seats and fog lights.
The BMW 502 registered low sales due to its increased price, which was around four times the average salary in Germany. Both the 501 and 502 were nicknamed “Baroque Angel” due to their flowing design.
The coupe and the cabriolet models were designed by Baur, a respected coach-builder who was already acquainted with BMW’s standards as he dealt with the BMW convertibles since 1930.
Both the 501 and the 502 models were discontinued in 1958, being renamed as BMW 2.6, respectively BMW 2.6 Luxus.