Quick; name a post-war, air-cooled, rear-engined BMW without the twin-kidney grill. Most pistonheads would answer, "Isetta." And they wouldn't be wrong. However, true Deutschaphiles will shout, "700!" And they couldn't be more right. After the tragic failures (from a sales standpoint) of the upscale 502, 503 and 507 models, BMW was forced to build dorktastic rolling eggs like the Isetta and subsequent 600. Yes, yes, those cars were cute, but as far from the ultimate driving machine as President Bush is from reality. All that changed in 1961 with the release of the 700. Learn more/make the jump.
BMW hired stud-designer Giovanni Michelotti, creator of such unbridled radness as the Triumph TR4 and the DAF 55 to save their weisswurst. Mr. Michelotti penned a little coupe that was not only fun to look at, but that set the stage for the vehicles which would come to define Bavarian Bruce, the 2002 and the icon-a-rific 3-series. Most importantly, people loved to race the 700s, re-establishing BMW's winning reputation for the first time since the 328 Mille Maglia. Even cooler, 19 special RS editions were built, and while the donor car's cutesiness was lost in the transformation, the resulting racecars were piloted by the likes of Hans Stuck and Jacky Ickx. Finally, the 697cc motorcycle engine out back might just be the very best of all possible candidates for the Jalopnik-endorsed Hayabusa-swap.
These two open-topped oddballs are the much coveted RS models doing what they do best. i.e, climbing hills and kicking ass. Please note how the back-bonnet is lifted for better cooling. So precise!
BMW 700 and RS [BMW World]