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The BMW New Class (German: Neue Klasse) was a line of compact sedans and coupes produced by German automaker BMW starting with the 1962 1500 and continuing through the last 2002s in 1977. Powered by BMW's celebrated four-cylinder M10 engine, the New Class models featured a fully independent suspension, MacPherson struts in front, and front disc brakes. Initially a family of four-door sedans and two-door coupes, the New Class line was broadened to two-door sports sedans with the addition of the 02 Series 1600 and 2002 in 1966. Sharing little in common with the rest the line beyond power train, the sporty siblings caught auto enthusiasts' attention and established BMW as an international brand. Precursors to the famed BMW 3 Series, the two-doors' success cemented the firm's future as an upper tier performance car maker. New Class four-doors with numbers ending in "0" were replaced by the larger BMW 5 Series in 1972. The upscale 2000C and 2000CS coupes were replaced by the six-cylinder BMW E9, introduced in 1969 with the 2800CS. The 1600 two-door was discontinued in 1975, the 2002 replaced by the 320i in 1975.
The 02 Series two-door sports sedans came into being at the prompting of US importer Max Hoffman, who convinced BMW that a more attractive 2-door version of the 1500 would sell much better than that decidedly Teutonic sedan had thus far. BMW agreed and turned to Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti, noted for such successes as the Triumph Spitfire and TR4, for a design.
The 02 Series that resulted bears little in common with the 1500 sedan save running gear. A two-door 1600 (also known as a 1600-2 or 1602) made its debut at the Geneva auto show in 1966 and was sold through 1975. Power output of the M10 was up to 96 hp (72 kW) gross with 91 lb·ft (123 N·m) of torque. Within two years Road & Track was sufficiently impressed by the $2676 (US) 1968 1600 to call it "a great automobile at the price".
British motoring writer Archie Vicar described the car as follows (Modern Motorist, August 1966):"The 1602 has a 4-cylinder engine driving the rear. How odd to launch a small car but still send the power hindmost. Front-wheel drive is certainly the future. With little effort the box could oversteer, requiring armfuls of opposite lock to point the nose onto the right course. The brakes are discs up front and drums at the rear and seem to be pretty good at slowing down BMW´s little biscuit tin." Vicar's summary of the car mirrored the general scepticism of the British motoring press about BMW's chances of success. Britain still viewed its own motor industry as a source of national pride at this time: "Triumph have the sports car market well secured and will do so for a long time if BMW can´t offer more than this small crate with its few fittings, old-fashioned engineering, hard ride and curiously designed door frames. If you want for more exotic fare, then hurry to a Citroen or Lancia dealer for more interesting machines."
A limited-production cabriolet was produced by Baur from 1967 through 1971, and a 2-door sedan version, the 1600ti, featured the dual Solex PHH side-draft carburetors (as found on the 1800TI) and 105 hp (78 kW) for 1967 and 1968. A hatchback 1600 Touring model was produced in 1971 and 1972.
Specifications. Body : length/width/height/wheelbase – cm (in) : 423/159/141/250 ( 166.5/62.6/55.5/98.4); weight : 930 kg (2062 lb).
Engine. 4-cylinders in line 1573 cc (96 ci), front-mounted, 1 SU carb, manual 4-speed, rear-wheel drive. Maximum power : 85 bhp @ 5700 rpm. Top speed : 160 km/h (100 mph); 0-60 mph : 13.3 sec.