For Sale By:Dealer
Interior Color: Tan
Sub Model: M6
Warranty: Vehicle does NOT have an existing warranty
Exterior Color: Red
Transmission Type: Manual
Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
It's a tragic coincidence that on the same weekend the BMW M4 Coupe Concept was introduced in Monterey, one of the men most integral to BMW's M and Motorsports divisions, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, was killed in England. Kalbfell, a vintage motorcycle enthusiast, was set to compete in the Lansdowne Classic Series at Brands Hatch and had an accident during a practice session. After going wide at Druids Corner and falling, he was hit by a competitor following close behind and died of his injuries after being transported to hospital.
Kalbfell, an engineer, began his career at BMW in 1977 in the communications department; a decade later he was chairman of BMW M GmbH, overseeing development of some of the cars responsible for the myth of M. In 1994 he was named chairman of BMW Motorsport, and his cap full of feathers includes getting the BMW V12 into the McLaren F1, getting the BMW V8 into two Morgan cars, along with developing BMW's Formula One engine and return to the sport. Not incidentally, he also assumed leadership of Project Rolls-Royce after BMW bought the British marque in 1998, which means he oversaw the Goodwood factory upfit and the creation of the Phantom.
He left Rolls-Royce for a brief stint at Fiat, heading Alfa Romeo and Maserati, then went into consulting for clients like Lotus and Paragon, who built the Artega GT. As Autocar notes, Kalbfell "had an abiding sense that customers needed to be attracted to cars by their aura and reputation, not just their engineering." He will be missed.
Before we know it, the BMW 1 Series will be no more in the United States. Well, sort of. The current six-year-old coupe and convertible will be replaced by the fancy new 2 Series you see here, spotted completely uncovered during a photo shoot, with the 1 Series nomenclature being reserved for the hatchback and GT models that might not ever make it Stateside.
The roofline of the new 2 Series doesn't appear to have to changed all that much from the current 1 Series coupe, but the front and rear fascias have indeed been smoothed out. (Truth time: As much as your author adores the 1 Series, he's always found its rear end to be, well, weird.) It looks good, seen here in M235i guise, with large wheels, slimmer headlamps and large air intakes on either side of the front fascia.
The 2 Series is expected to come to the States, likely in M235i and 228i variants, though rumors suggest that we won't get a non-M 235i model. The M235i is expected to be powered by the N55 turbocharged inline-six that we currently enjoy in the 335i sedan, producing something like 320 horsepower. The 228i, unsurprisingly, should use the 2.0-liter turbo-four from the 328i, making around 240 hp. Both engines will almost certainly employ eight-speed automatic transmissions and six-speed manuals.
The BMW Z3/Z4 roadster has never really had a widespread following because it has either been too humble and small a roadster (albeit with some fun and very low-volume M editions) or it has been - in this E89 generation - too casual an image leader with no racier aspirations. The current 480-hp Z4 GTEs don't count, since they are as stock a Z4 as today's Pamela Anderson is the same blonde actress we knew as Heidi on Home Improvement. You know, sort of like those ever-so-slightly modified Toyota Camry coupes competing in NASCAR.
The ultimate highpoint for the BMW Z roadster franchise was at the very start of its life in the mid-90s, in the James Bond film GoldenEye with Pierce Brosnan. The Stinger missiles that Q's team installed behind the Z3's headlights were never fired, and BMW never even offered this self-defense package as an option. Yet another case of the ol' bait and switch.
And in all these subsequent years of Z3s and Z4s strutting their long-hooded stuff, the little sporting Bimmer could really have used a live Stinger missile or two to spice things up. The current Z4 exists, it is pretty dang sexy, and BMW seems content to let it linger there. We just drove the new midlife version of the roadster near BMW headquarters in Munich, and it served to reinforce our feelings.