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Homepage. This page: A classic BMW automobile of the early 1950s, its owner sat inside waiting to drive off.

BMW 501.

Whereas today they're everywhere, in the early 1950s (pre-Isetta) BMW cars were a rare sight in the UK. This photograph though was taken in the car's German homeland. A light-coloured BMW 501 is shown parked at the roadside, it's owner sat behind the steering wheel. A military parade passes by, the band's drummers bringing up the rear of the group as they stroll along the street on a sunny day past the Erste Allgemeine building. The small pony appears to be pulling a trailer, on which the drum for the chap on the back row has been placed.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Photo of a BMW 501 in a street
The BMW 501 was powered by a 1,971cc straight-six engine (M337/1), that made its debut in the 501 in 1952. In later years the power output would be increased from the initial version's 64bhp, partly because it's performance in hauling the car's heavy coachwork was less-than sparkling, especially when compared to its contemporary rival, the Mercedes-Benz 220. The 501 was in fact introduced to the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show of 1951, although production only started in earnest late in 1952, in part due to problems that BMW were having in setting up a body production line. Because of this, the first 2,045 bodyshells were actually built by an outside coachbuilder (Baur), then transported to the BMW factory for assembly. The coachbuilder offered both cabriolet and coupe versions of the 501's four-door bodyshell, for those wanting a more exclusive ride. In all, 2,125 examples of the initial 501 were built.
A couple of years later, 1954, a revised model went on sale (501A) with a slightly more powerful engine, and a usefully lower price tag. The 501B was also brought into production, as understudy to the 501A and, as a result, DM500 cheaper.
In 1955 the 501/3 came on stream to replace the 501A and B, as did a V8-engined version. The latter came equipped with the engine fitted as standard to the (new-for-1954) 502, albeit in less powerful guise. The 501/3 and 501 V8 continued in production until 1958, while the 502 offered a more enticing package with its V8 and higher levels of trim and specification.
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