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Here’s the one-and-only BMW 1600 GT Convertible in the world. Sit back, and enjoy the rollicking ride it’s been through.
The story of this very rare 1600 GT car (not to be confused with the BMW motorcycle) by BMW can be made into a movie! It all started with the Glas company, when a Bavarian farmer, Johann Glas began fixing and producing farm implements for the neighbors. His son, Maurus Glas, eventually, made the same enterprise a proper business in 1860.
In the 1890s, it started being operated by his grandson, Andreas. The company was small, but eventually hired about 300 employees and moved to a bigger premise in Dingolfing, in 1906. To expand further, Andreas joined hands with a new investor, and they changed the company's name from 'Bavaria' to 'Isaria'.
Hans was born in 1890 and was one of Andreas' 18 kids. He was the founder of Hans Glas GmbH which initially made farm machines. They then slowly spread out to make motor scooters and cars. This automaker is still known for its Goggomobil range of mini cars which eventually became the design inspiration for the BMW 1600 GT Convertible
The Goggomobil was Hans's first car, and in the first 8 months of its being driven out of the factory, Hans became popular by making it to the cover of Der Spiegel, all thanks to the cars. The car was even exported to Australia and the United States, and employment expanded once again after Hans invested the profits made from the Goggomobil into sales of other models, bigger engines, and a hardtop, among other vehicles.
In 1958, 200 cars in a day, had begun rolling out of the factory. Hans somehow understood that these micro cars would eventually find their way into the hearts of customers. His next plan was to produce a proper car, whilst the business was booming.
In 1957, the 'Big Goggomobil' was introduced in Frankfurt as a front-wheel-drive model but went into production as a rear-drive car in 1958. The Big Goggomobil was renamed the 'Glas Isar' in 1959, but a lot never worked in Hans' favor. Engines would give up their ghost, and the windshield would come popping out. Andreas met a man named Petro Frua at the 40th Frankfurt IAA in 1961.
Frua was tasked with the job of designing two cars as part of the contract. The first model was a Glas 1500 sedan, followed by a sporty coupe and convertible: the 1700 GT and the 1300 GT. And these cars would eventually be the inspiration for the BMW 1600 GT which was made after BMW acquired Glas.
The apprentices at the BMW plant in Dingolfing restored a BMW 1600 GT convertible: a project that was long overdue for years, under the guidance of their trainers. The four-seater, two-door car comes with a red hood and comes attached with some history closely related to when BMW made the transition from being a niche automaker to a mass-production car manufacturer that has witnessed immense growth and success all over the world.
This little classic car is now gleaming in the images and happens to be the only surviving car of the two prototypes that BMW commissioned from the Italian exterior designer, Pietro Frua. Both the 1600 GT Convertibles rolled off the production line in Dingolfing, and one of the cars met with an accident during a test drive, which meant it had to be scrapped for good.
The other 1600 GT Convertible was given a special honor. The car was handed to one of the shareholders, Herbert Quandt, in BMW AG back in the day. The car stayed in the family for years, until it was passed on to some other owners. A beautiful fashion model from Munich made the most of the car and being an open-top model, we can only imagine her hair being tossed in the breeze.
The car changed hands yet again with a businessman from Franconia, and then eventually, was parked in a Munich-based Allianz Center for Engineering. The BMW 1600 GT was restored here for the first time, to ensure the longevity of the pretty car.
After the folks at BMW Group Classic got to know of the unique car from Dingolfing, they quickly came up with a proposal to acquire the car, and bring it back to its original condition.
The restoration of the Bimmer car became a project, which was to be a part of a training of the apprentices who aspired to be bodywork and vehicle, construction mechanics. BMW Group Classic was more than happy to fund the project, including sourcing the parts for the car. As for the many components that couldn't be found – those had to be manufactured from scratch.
The car was originally launched by Glas in 1964, but after Glas looked for a partner with stronger financial backing, he found BMW, after which the Munich auto giant took over completely. The sports car, if you can call it that, was fitted with the rear axle, the seats, and a 105hp engine from the BMW 1600 TI, along with the signature kidney grille, and circular headlights from the BMW 02 Series.
Max Hoffman came up with the idea of developing a new version of the coupe with a 2.0-liter engine, and an open-top version. Frua delivered a convertible body, mounted on a strengthened floor assembly. It was then painted in Dingolfing where the rest of the assembly was done.
The BMW 1600 GT convertible soon became a part of the plant's production book, but series production never became a reality. The car you see in these images is the only example of the Italian-Bavarian convertible in the world that was driven on public roads. BMW Group Classic is blessed with another gem from its past.
Rehan got published for the first time at the age of 17, having written a feature on a Triumph Herald in print. He uses his writing as a tool to express his fondness for all things automotive even today, aged 28. Collecting scale models is a hobby close to his heart, and he wishes to sprinkle pixie dust on them only to see them grow into full-sized cars. He now represents HotCars.com.
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