Myth Buster

BMW 3200CS

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Giles Chap­man


The beau­ti­ful lines of the 3200 CS caused en­thu­si­asts ev­ery­where to sud­denly take no­tice of BMW. With its wafer-thin wind­screen pil­lars, pil­lar­less side win­dows and sleek, un­adorned lines – all the work of Gior­getto Gi­u­giaro, then a ju­nior de­signer work­ing at Ber­tone. Mod­ern? Out­wardly, yes, ex­cept that in one ma­jor sense the 3200 CS was ex­tremely old­fash­ioned. It rode on the rugged sep­a­rate chas­sis used to un­der­pin the 503 that had been axed three years ear­lier, and it would also be the very last new BMW to use a live axle and a pushrod en­gine.


The 3200 CS was on sale a few months be­fore the ‘Neue Klasse’ 1500 and so the lat­ter car was not the first BMW to boast the dis­tinc­tive, turned-back de­sign twist in its rear roof pil­lar known as the ‘Hofmeister Kink’; It was named af­ter Wil­helm Hofmeister, head of BMW de­sign be­tween 1955 and 1970, al­though it should re­ally be called the ‘Gi­u­giaro Kink’ af­ter the man from whose draw­ing board it emerged! The styling of the 1500 was by fel­low Ital­ian, Pi­etro Frua.


This was a pow­er­ful car for the time, with 160bhp from its 3.2-litre OHV V8. Front disc brakes were a key ben­e­fit over the older 503 from a driv­ing view­point but, other than that, the two cars be­haved pretty sim­i­larly. They were fine for rapid tour­ing but pon­der­ous un­der spir­ited corner­ing. The 3200CS was on sale for four years up to 1965, and pro­duc­tion barely av­er­aged more than three cars a week, with the bod­ies vir­tu­ally hand-made at Ber­tone be­fore be­ing shipped to Mu­nich. 603 were made, but only 50 are thought to have sur­vived. It was a flop, but its styling pointed the way ahead for decades to come.

BMW 3200 CS

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