(first posted 3/7/2014) When writing for anoraks such our readers, it’s difficult to gauge whether Claus Luthe needs an introduction. Certainly, his cars are famous and almost unanimously well-regarded, but as someone who’s worked for manufacturers in-house, he many not have benefited from the same degree of name recognition as, say, Giugiaro or Michelotti. Still, the cars he penned are easily some of our favorites and his work deserves more than a few words.
Mr. Luthe’s success in creating a very diverse portfolio demonstrates the breadth of his talent, for while he famously created some famous, high-end designs, he also left his mark on some more-modest vehicles. Such is a fitting narrative when considering the life of a person whose personal timeline coincided with of his homeland’s utter devastation and rebirth following World War Two. Luthe was twelve years old when his father died, on Germany’s Eastern front, in 1944, and only sixteen when he began his first apprenticeship with a coach builder helping to design buses. After six years, he joined Deutsche Fiat, where he helped design the front end of the Nuovo 500, a car whose adorable face left its mark all across postwar Europe.
He is more well known for his work at NSU, where he landed a job in the late ’50s through family connections. Up to that point, the company did not have a design department, so the young Luthe was given a position which allowed him both some degree of freedom as well as a great deal of responsibility. The first cars he created in his new position were the NSU Prinz 4 of 1961 and the NSU Wankel Spider.
BMW’s 700, another rear-engined car, had just been introduced when the Prinz’s design was being finalized. Disturbed by this similarity and inspired by a board member’s recent trip to the U.S., where the Corvair had also been recently introduced, Luthe experimented with the addition of a ridge entirely surrounding the perimeter of the car, which resulted in the design we see above–no small feat for an inexpensive car so advanced in its planning stages. Of course, the Prinz was more than a mere rip-off of the Corvair, but its influence is distinctly obvious.
NSU, hoping to break out of its role as a maker of economy cars, began experimenting with that relic of futures past, the Wankel engine. As a way to get the first versions of their new engine onto the road, NSU created the Wankel Spider, a rare car even when new, built on the Prinz’s chassis. As the first production car with a rotary engine, it wasn’t cheap for its time, and Luthe’s styling reflects the corresponding need to justify its price. While perhaps his least distinguished design, with influences from Loewy and Pininfarina, its very clean detailing and deference to prevailing attitudes demonstrate his sensitivity as a stylist.
While working on these cars, Luthe furthered the work on what became his most famous design, the Ro80. Easily one of the most influential cars of its time, it helped set the stage for sedans in the 1980s and 1990s and while not his most widely seen work, it’s been widely copied and remains the most frequently cited piece in his portfolio. One factor which allowed such a progressive design was the freedom afforded by not having a predecessor whose styling themes would have to be taken into consideration when designing the new car.
Designed around a small Wankel engine with the goal of accommodating a full load of passengers and cargo, the low nose and high decklid dominate the shape of the car, along with the very large six-light greenhouse.
The dashboard that Luthe had designed for the Ro80 was rejected by NSU management, who insisted on the very dull design which made it into production. Other elements which changed when the car went into production were its overall width and the ride height, with no corresponding alteration in the front wheel opening to compensate. The front end of the car, incidentally, was to be even lower, with a big air intake under the bumper and the license plate concealed behind glass (as on Citroen’s SM). Minimum headlight height requirements in some export markets nixed this plan, but looking at the front of the car, it’s not impossible to imagine such an element being integrated into its design.
A continuation of ridges and indentation which grace the decklid and the hood of the Ro 80 were initially planned for the roof as well (as on today’s Prius), which was to be a brushed stainless steel surface, but fitting a sunroof to such a panel would obviously be expensive, so a flat, painted surface was used instead. This seemingly brilliant touch shows amazing foresight when considered in light of the fact that wind tunnel testing was only commenced when the car’s design was nearly complete. The Cd was revealed to be about .36, which was impressive for the late ’60s, and subsequent models achieved figures as low as .34.
The Ro80 set the stage for NSU’s next sedan, the K70, which was smaller, less expensive and which used a traditional four-cylinder engine, ahead of the front wheels. So while many aspects of their design are similar, the K70 is altogether more upright and traditionally proportioned.
By the time the K70 was introduced, NSU ended up in VW’s coldly rational arms where, in 1971, Luthe was made head of the Audi design studio. He is responsible for the Audi 50 (though curiously, the nearly identical VW Polo is credited to Bertone) as well as for starting work on the B2 80/90/4000 which was completed by, and is credited to, Giorgetto Giugiaro. The interior of both the Audi 50/Polo and the C2 (second generation 100 and first generation 5000) were also his designs and show a direct link to the work originally undertaken for the Ro 80.
Luthe’s time at NSU and Audi was one where he felt limited, from the placement of the chrome strip on the Prinz to the canning of the original dashboard design of the Ro 80 to VAG’s insistence of there being two separate design studios, where certain cars were kept out of his reach. He departed for BMW in 1976, where he was made head of design, succeeding Paul Bracq who had departed just after having introduced a new design language with the E21 3-series, E23 7-series and E24 6-series.
Luthe was therefore initially constrained in what he could accomplish in Munich, much like Bruno Sacco at Mercedes. In addition to those limitations, his first design in Munich, the BMW E28, was also compromised by BMW’s budget and the need to base the car on the outgoing E12, designed by Marcello Gandini. Like the Prinz, this car’s design was inspired by an American company, though much less directly. Upon viewing the 1976 Ford Taunus, Luthe considered how that car could was redesigned quite extensively around an existing passenger cell and sought to apply this philosophy to the new Five, which was to be redesigned on a budget of $100 million.
Much to Luthe’s consternation, the new car ended up costing BMW 400 million rapidly depreciating, late ’70s US Dollars to redo, but not due to any excesses on his part. Fortunately, BMW’s rising star gave him more space to create the kind of design he thought would be best for the brand in the ’80s, the first example of which was the famous E30 3-series.
Luthe, quite unlike Chris Bangle, championed an evolutionary approach to BMW design, maintaining the importance of creating a lasting impression of what the brand stood for. This logic speaks volumes for the cars created under his watch, especially the now iconic E30. At the same time he wanted to consolidate the brand’s identity, however, he also had to further the company’s goal of establishing itself as a first-rate Mercedes competitor.
Perhaps the best expressions of this plan were the E32 7-series and the E34 5-series, both designed by chief stylist Ercole Spada under Luthe’s watch. While not as big of breakthroughs as the Ro 80, they still achieved great success in merging the Neue Klasse’s ’60s-inspired look with late ’80s aerodynamic sensibilities.
Luthe left BMW following a well-publicized family tragedy in 1990, but Wolfgang Reitzle helped continue the designer’s influence, rehiring him as a consultant beginning in 1992. The well-received E38 and E39 are good examples of the continuation of the styling themes established by the E36, and the design of E31 8-series was also completed under his leadership.
Asked to list their favorite BMWs, a good portion of enthusiasts will undoubtedly mention Luthe’s work. As the Ro 80 shows, he definitely knew what was fresh and new, but his general aversion to fads and outré design elements meant that his cars never unnecessarily challenged onlookers.
If the changes which took place after Luthe’s departure from BMW prove anything, it’s that management knew his work was difficult to beat and was desperate for any chance for their design to evolve. One need only look at Audi’s underwhelming designs of ten years ago to see what they were worried about. While his influence was evident in the very clean cars designed after his departure, notably Harmut Warkuss’s C3 Audi 100 and also Jay Mays’s B3 Audi 80/90, and while both those designers had extensive tenures at the company and created some great shapes, they lacked his ability to move the game on. Luthe understood that moderation and sensitivity were different from conservatism.
Though he passed away in 2008, he left his mark on an entire generation and did a great deal to define The German Car. His designs have a very clean look and do not call attention to themselves, not unlike the under-recognized man who created them. When the press first speculated that the Ro 80’s design was Italian, no effort was made to correct the assumption, but as we see, for the everyday motorist, Luthe’s influence is perhaps even more pervasive than those of the Italian design houses. Perhaps it’s only fitting that the subtlety of his work has made him somewhat of an nameless figure, but for car lovers, Claus Luthe is a man to be remembered and admired.
Excellent profile Perry, with two great photos to close.
The Ro 80 is one of my all time favorite sedan designs. Elegant, original and very influential. Luthe’s original dash is far more complimentary to the quality of the exterior design.
An excellent piece of automotive history, Perry. As more of a U.S. car-centric guy, most of this info was new to me, so thank you for filling in some (fairly large) gaps in my understanding of things.
Funny, but the RO80 is probably my least favorite of his designs. There is something about the relationship of the beltline and the C pillar that offends my sense of order. I am sure that I am in the minority. Perhaps the car reminds me too much of the GM10 sedans from Buick that had a very similar shape.
The NSU stuff is intriguing. The back of the Prinz reminds me a lot of the Studebaker Lark, only with straight taillights/stainless trim. And the dash that NSU refused to approve has a lot of early Valiant , with the instrument pod on a sloping surface. And of course, the BMWs are classic. A wonderful tour of the work of a very talented designer.
God, yes, the Ro80. I honestly think that was his masterpiece. I’ve always said, I genunely believe that the Ro80 was one of the very few cars that could stand next to a DS and come away looking good.
No worries, JP. Different strokes for different folks and all that.
A clear visionary and borders on genius. Love the BMWs!!! I love, love the first generation 7 series.
Not seen an NSU Ro80 for a long time.Problems with the rotary engine and few garages prepared to work on them meant a premature death for many.It really was a car ahead of it’s time.
It seems that several people who now have these have opted for a Mazda rotary as replacement. Far more reliable and it keeps the car “in the family”. At least, much more than the common Ford V4 transplant.
There are some that still have their NSU (can I say original here?) motor. Maybe a way has been found to finally make the rotor seals as reliable as possible. I certainly hope so. I would hate to think that driving time is severely restricted due to a short motor life, with newer, more durable materials now available.
Some surviving Ro80s do indeed still have their original engines. If you didn’t drive much in stop-and-go traffic (admittedly a tall order even for collector cars now), didn’t exceed the redline, changed the plugs regularly and kept the oil topped up, you wouldn’t necessarily have any problems with the early engines.
The fundamental issue with the early engines was that NSU got backed into a corner on the launch date (if they didn’t launch, they were in serious danger of bankruptcy) and just didn’t do enough development testing. The factory improved the apex seals twice, first in late 1969, again in mid-1970. 1971 and later cars also had single rather than dual plugs per rotor, transistorized ignition, and a better oil system.
The 1971–77 engines are not that bad if you can stand the bills — they’re very thirsty, they consume oil as part of their normal operation, and they go through spark plugs fairly quickly.
The big dilemma for a long time was that a lot of survivors were neglected. The bad reputation of the early cars wrecked resale values for many years and people don’t have a lot of incentive to sink more money into an expensive-to-run car that isn’t worth much more than scrap. That perception has changed, since people approaching the Ro80 as a collector car now are a lot more likely to appreciate it for what it is and understand what they’re getting into, but it was a real problem in the ’70s.
three years ago when I visited my family I caught a piece on the Ro80 on TV. They said that the early apex seals were too soft and wore out rather quickly. Meanwhile the apex seals are no longer a problem. They are now so hard that the thing that’s not a cylinder but does the same job is wearing out.
What’s that word I am looking for?… Epitrochonder?
Epitrochoidal is the word you’re looking for. That’s the path traced by the rotor in a Wankel engine — it looks sort of like a figure-eight or a peanut. The rotor housing on the Ro80 engine is aluminum with an inner surface of EINSIL (nickel silicon carbide), which is tough but not indestructible.
Saying the seals were too soft is sort of correct, but kind of an oversimplification. The Ro80 engine’s apex seals each were split into three pieces: a tip seal with a corner seal on either side of it. The idea was that tip seal would “float” on combustion chamber gases and maintain a constant distance to the chamber wall, which cut down friction and wear a lot. The problem was that in stop-and-go traffic, where gas pressure would rise and fall rapidly, the corner seals wore much wear faster than the tips. Once a corner seal failed, the self-adjustment would no longer work and then the tip seal would fail. As I understand it, what NSU did once they figured this out was to make the corner seals much harder so that they would be able to withstand stop-and-go driving.
Thanks, Ate up With Motor.
BTW my only close encounter with a Wankel was a short ride with this:
I remember being shocked on seeing the first sneak photos of the Ro80, it was as if the front and back belonged to two different cars. Took me several years to appreciate how far ahead of the game it was. Alas most Ro80s ended up with V4 Ford engines over the front wheels.
Always thought the E30 was the sweetest looking BMW ever made.
Great write up Perry. I did not know anything about the Ro80 interior until now, probably because it was so bland. Great story about how Luthe’s original proposal was rejected — I agree it’s where the Audi 5000 got its inspiration. I think the Ro80 influenced the 5000’s exterior design a great deal too. The front ends were not dissimilar, the sides and greenhouse quite similar as were the taillamps.
It is interesting how the dash of the K70 is quite similar to the proposed and rejected one of the Ro 80.
Luthe’s work on the ’80’s era BMW’s alone is amazing; I was not aware of the scope of his work.
Luthe designed BMW’s. Bangle designed crap.
And the Ro80 is one of the most attractive cars ever made.
Bangle’s talents were wasted at BMW, he belonged at Hyundai or Kia.
Seriously. I mean, he should’ve been establishing the design language of an up-and-coming marque rather than dealing with BMW’s “make it look fresh and futuristic, but pile on all this legacy 1962 Neue Klasse stuff too” brief.
Well guess who Peter Schreyer worked under? Harmut Warkuss, who’d worked alongside Luthe. So it seems even with their solid business of late, that they don’t want anything like what Bangle did at BMW. Of course, that’s just speculation.
An unheralded designer come to life here, in a great write up by Perry. What a beautiful design the NSU RO80 was. You can see where the genesis for the Audi 5000 began; not to mention the first generation Ford Taurus.
I recall reading of the uproar over BMW’s flame broiled design by Chris Bangle; it seemed to have gone on for years. For me in retrospect, that was the greatest complement paid for his predecessor, Mr Luthe.
I recall reading of the uproar over BMW’s flame broiled design by Chris Bangle; it seemed to have gone on for years. For me in retrospect, that was the greatest complement paid for his predecessor, Mr Luthe.
**Snicker** I think you’re referring to flame surfacing. Flame broiling happened when one of these would catch fire for some electrically overloaded reason.
Don’t mind me; it’s been a hard days night, working eight days a week and all..!
I’ve always called it flame-grilled. The cars with the barbecued look!
I have always looked at the E39 5 Series (1995-2004) as being one of the perfectly designed cars. It is just so balanced. But the E38 7 Series (1995-2001) was always my favorite car in the long wheelbase. For me it was the model that turned my head away from Mercedes. I remember the transmissions were so smooth, handling was great and it ran like it was on rails.
Same, though I do think the E30 is one of the purest designs of all time. It just makes me smile.
Thanks for this fine tribute to an under-appreciated designer. I’ve been aware of aspects of his work, but have never really read a proper overview of his full range of work.
This line of yours caught my attention: He is responsible for the Audi 50 (though curiously, the nearly identical VW Polo is credited to Bertone)
That didn’t make sense to me, as the Polo is nothing but a badge-engineered 50, with all body panels identical. It seems Bertone did some consulting on the Audi 50, and is credited with the little “flick-up” of the waist line at the rear and the circular extractor vent cover at the base of the C Pillar.
Apparently VW decided to make a point of Bertone’s involvement for PR purposes, even though it was minimal, and actually on the original Audi 50.
It didn’t make sense to me, either, but I felt that it was safer to attribute the design to the German, since most of what I could credited him with the Audi, but the identical VW which came out a year later was attributed to Bertone. In any case, it sort of characterizes the way he must’ve been treated by VW, something for which we’re lucky because he did such good work for BMW.
There is a sense that Audi (and its personnel) was often the unwelcome stepchild in the VW hierarchy – many Audi wishes were denied by VW upper management throughout the 70’s and well into the 80’s. I have a book by Fritz Naumann “Blick aus der Grube” – Naumann was a development engineer at Mercedes, then Audi during the late 50’s to 80’s – in which he repeatedly details actions such as this. Not at all surprising to see an Audi designer not get the credit for the VW twin. Of course, these days all that has presumably changed, what with Audi clearly in the ascendancy.
Please tell me that book is not in german.
Yes it is in german and it is fascinating (thankfully I am fluent). I picked it up at the Audi Forum museum mobile in Ingolstadt in 2003. It appears to be self-published but at that point was already it its 3rd printing. I happen to have it right here so I can give more info.
Author: Fritz Naumann
Title: Blick aus der Grube, Erinnerungen eines Automobilingenieurs (translated: View from the pit, memoirs of an automobile engineer’s)
Copyright 2000, 3rd printing 2001.
493 pages of pure automotive geek joy!
Thanks, Jim. Jealous me. Self-publish is usually not translated. Can’t find an English one doing a quick search. You think maybe you could translate it and post chapters weekly? hehehe
Jim lent that book to me; fascinating read. Actually, I liked the early chapters more than the later ones, but even that was good.
I meant to do some posts on it, but sent it back to Jim before I had the time (I still don’t, actually). Maybe I’ll buy it one of these years and do a serialization of it.
Add me to the jealous list.
Uh, ixnay on the translate, Don! But hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, right?
But all hope is not lost! A contact website is listed in the front of the book:
http://www.vera-naumann.de which has an english page. It’s probably Fritz’s daughter. Being a modern German, she undoubtedly speaks excellent english and if the book was (or will be) translated could give you more info. Might be worth the contact. Good luck!
And Paul, if you ever want to borrow it again, just ask, while I do want to keep owning it, I have no problem lending it to you again, even for extended periods.
Thanks again Jim. Have sent Vera an email.
I got a response from Vera Naumann. The book has not been translated, but I think she was amused at the enquiry. Now for those online German lessons…
The Bertone 50 prototype also had protective ‘shields’ front and rear instead of bumper/grille.
Bertone received the brief with the design ‘already defined in general line terms…’
‘The intervention of Bertone meant Audi’s four ring logo was clearly displayed on all the graphic elements of the body…’
Bertone Cat. Luciano Greggio
A-ha… the Polo facelift sort of adopted those cues.
I had both Audi 50 and VW Polo, the only difference was the roofline.
Audi 50 was slightly arched, whereas Polos roof was flat. Otherwise they were identical.
Strangely enough, being pretty familiar with all of these cars, I’ve never heard the name of the guy who’d designed them. Now he goes straight to “my favorite car stylists” category. Thank you very much, Perry !
I was a kid and didn’t pay attention to the designer’s name. So i never was aware of Luthe’s body of work.
Hemmings Classic Car once asked the reader to name which company they thought was bringing out the most innovative designs/ styles to market. I though the question was missing a point. It should have been which designer was creating the most innovative designs. Today I realize this would be Luthe across all the companies he worked for and as far as American cars are concerned it would be Engel who moved from Ford/Lincoln to Chrysler/ Imperial.
Thanks to Perry!
On the Audi C2, it’s worth noting that part of the reason it owes an obvious stylistic debt to the Ro80 is that until quite late in the development cycle, Audi intended to offer an NSU version of the C2 as a direct successor to the Ro80, powered by the 1.5-liter KKM 871 engine with probably something like 175 horsepower. There were a number of development mules and I think a couple of the preproduction engines still survive.
What killed it was that Audi — or, more specifically, Ferdinand Piëch — concluded that Audi could justify the cost of continuing to develop the Wankel OR developing modern diesel engines, not both, and the diesel was a better commercial bet for the European market.
A wonderful profile. I knew he did the Ro80, but was unaware of his later work.
Great article Perry. I knew nothing about Luthe, but am glad to have learned who was responsible for the BMW E30 – perfection inside and out in my opinion.
The range of designs he worked on is astonishing. It’s hard to believe a single design career could have spanned the Fiat 500, the Ro80, and 80’s BMW classics.
As an aside, I still get a smile from a famous article in a British car mag (Car? Autocar?) some years ago, critical of that US upstart Chris Bangle’s post-Luthe work at BMW, and titled ‘The cars Bangle spannered’.
Man, what a great read!
Do you know who designed the BMW Efficient Dynamics concept?
Who’s their current designer? Adrian van Hooydonk? Am I way off on who it is and/or the spelling of that designer’s name?
I’m totally relying on CC for this; my knowledge of modern designers is not very good. Was it the same designer in the transition to the i8?
I knew absolutely nothing about this man and this article held my interest for every line. Great job, Perry!
RO80 is a milestone in so many ways !
Looks timelessly fantastic and is technically advanced in engine and bodywork.
The DS, the Ro80 andSAAB 99 is what carmakers should use as inspiration…
Ah, the Ro 80… As a child, I carved a reasonable facsimile of one out of Play-Dough. Count me among those who didn’t even know the name of the man who designed it. Thanks for the information, Perry.
One of my favorite automotive “what ifs” is “What if NSU had offered a piston-engined version of the Ro 80?” That was Mazda’s old strategy in the 70s. You could always tell the rotary-engined car from the piston-engined version by the tail lights; on the rotary car, they’d be round, and on the piston car they’d be rectangular. It was a very wise hedge on Mazda’s part!
In that alternate universe, perhaps NSU and Auto Union never merged into Volkswagen? When and how would Volkswagen have made the switch to water-cooled cars? I’ll have to admit that the NSU / Auto Union / VW merger was an obvious combination and perhaps inevitable, but it’s fun to speculate.
I’ve often regretted that NSU ended its spunky existence, but it seems that VW/Audi really stepped up their technological game soon after they absorbed little NSU, with their clever Strickmachinen (sewing machine) engineers.
When I bought my first NSU 1000TT, it wasn’t for the styling. “Little bathtubs” was the best description I ever heard of the cars. But the design worked fine from every angle, except for its woeful aerodynamics. The boxy greenhouse and big windows made the car seem much roomier than it was. Later, when I’d grown tired of maintaining a forgotten, orphaned car, I admired the BMW sedans from some considerable economic distance, I never suspected that they were drawn by the same hand.
As I looked at those designs, the Audi 100 circa 1974 and the Fiat 124 Coupe came immediately to mind, and the cutaway of the Ro80 looked very Audi-ish. I am an old dog, and always trying to learn as I had never heard of this very influential man prior to this write-up. Thank you.
Another well researched article from CC. Great job Perry, I worked for BMW (parts) in the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s and always thought the styling of the cars in that era just seemed “right”. Some would complain too boxy and conservative, but to me they appeared understated and quality built. Of course, being in the business I knew of the issues they could have, although the 3 series was by far the most trouble free. I have been temped to own one of these, but the perception of the typical owner put me off. I don’t need parking lot key jobs and middle finger salutes while driving. Mr. Luthe is a person I was unaware of, yet his designs played a key role in my appreciation of his efforts. A totally underated designer, for sure.
Please don’t ban me from the site, but I reckon the closest design to the Ro80 is this:
Consider yourself banned.
But seriously, folks!
There are A LOT of cars that were inspired by the Ro 80, and the the world is a better place because of it. Long wheelbase, short overhangs and an airy greenhouse with c-pillar windows. In the words of Martha Stewart, “It’s a good thing.”
Thank you, you’ve been a wonderful audience.
Thanks mate. Let me try and redeem myself; the Ro80 is Ella Fitzgerald lilting through a melody. The Magna is Rod Stewart’s plodding version.
The RO80 is a great design, flawed mechanicals aside the Magna not so much.
Yes, I love Mitsubishis, but you’re comparing a masterpiece with a very mundane car. I feel bad adding to the censure you’ve received, since it was also compared to a ’90s Regal sedan and because it influenced modern sedan design so much, but… sometimes conventional wisdom can’t be ignored.
I completely agree on the success and influence of the Ro80 styling. But I’m hard pressed to find a better example of the same proportional ‘melody’ than the Magna, which I’m no great fan of.
But enough of my disembleuvatives…
The problem with the Magna is that it’s a blatant rip off of certain details, but yet it utterly fails to convey the true spirit of the Ro80. Look at its short wheelbase and giant overhangs; it looks just like a Buick Regal too.
There’s a difference between being truly inspired by a design and using that inspiration properly compared to just cribbing the details.
Considering how different this Magna is from the previous body, I’ve always wondered whether there was maybe a Ro80 pic on the pinboard in the Mitsubishi Styling Centre.
But you’re right. The Ro80 styling is purposeful and dynamic; whereas the Magna is.. well…
That is cruel …
Let me add another accolade to both Mr. Shoar and Herr Luthe!
You have summed up Claus Luthe’s legacy immaculately. I admire the designs Luthe penned for BMW in the 70s, 80s and 90s – elegant, timeless and truly individual. Thank you for writing this 🙂
I’d say as far as grille design at least, Ford got there first: 1963, and ’61 was very similar,
The E30 always rubbed me the wrong way, looks-wise. It defined what a “premium, aspirational” compact car would be for a generation, such a timid and lazy effort with so few chances taken – at the very least it should’ve been a hatchback (only!) – can only count as a missed opportunity.
I had never heard of the BMW 700. I thought BMW went from Isetta to Neue Klasse. Here’s a good article on the 700: