BMW Celebrates 80 Years of 6-Cylinder Engines and Kidney Grilles

Today, everyone’s concerned about fuel consumption, making cars more efficient and more eco-friendly. At the same time, a lot of people (I won’t go as far as to say the majority) still want their cars to be fun and that is a problem.
BMW 303 10 photos
Photo: BMW
BMW 303 EngineBMW 303 ChassisBMW 6-cylinder engineBMW 303 Kidney GrilleBMW 303 dashBMW 303 front fasciaBMW 303 RoadsterBMW 303 RoadsterBMW 303 Chassis
BMW’s EfficientDynamics philosophy does just what you need it too. It will make your car nice and efficient when you need it and turn it into an agile beast the moment you want it to and, even though most people think this is a new concept in BMW’s history, you should know that it’s actually almost 80 years old.

It was 1933 when BMW launched the first car ever to wear the famous double kidney grilles on its front fascia and the first car to use an ultra-lightweight chassis (for that time), the 303 model.

That car would turn out to be the starting point for all the BMW models unveiled in the years to come. The new chassis has a complex structure based on cylindric steel frames that, not only made the car lighter, but they also gave it up to ten times more torsional rigidity.

For the sedan model, the body would eventually be provided by Daimler-Benz, thus allowing the Munich-based company to enter the under 1.3-liter segment. The collaboration with the Stuttgart company continued for other models too, like the 315 and 319, whilst Berlin-based company Ambi-Budd provided the parts for BMW’s 326 and 328.

As for the engine, the 303 used a 1.2-liter 6-cylinder inline unit that developed 30 HP, plenty for  a top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph), the first such unit ever fitted on a BMW car.  At the same time, it was the smallest such engine on the market but it had plenty of punch to make the 303 a true “Fahrauto” meaning a car dedicated to emphasizing the driving experience.

6-cylinder inline engines would eventually turn out to be one of the defining characteristics of BMW cars from the 3.0CSL model down to the 1M Coupe and further on. Even today, in the Bavarians’ line-up you’ll find plenty of such units, used on every model in the range.

Apart from the engine, the front kidney grille was also introduced now, another element that was present on all cars BMW made, excepting just four: the 1937-1940 BMW 325, the 1955-1962 BMW Isetta, the 1957-1959 BMW 600 and the 1959-1962 BMW 700.

Other than those models, the kidney grille was present of every single BMW and, despite initially it was designed to help cool down the engine, it’s present even on the electric i3 and the hybrid i8, today.
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