1.1: BMW Body Styles
(by Rick Kjeldsen fcmk_at_watson.ibm.com
BMW has a long history of making cars, going back well before WWII.
Since this FAQ has been built from the contributions to the mailing
list, there is little information about the early cars.
Modern BMWs started with the 1500, a boxy practical sedan with a 1.5
liter 4 cylinder. The engine was soon enlarged and the body slightly
redesigned to make the 2002. This was a small 4 seater with good
handling and a powerful motor. It is the car which really started
BMW on the path it is today.
Today BMW has three main lines of cars, 3, 5 and 7. The 3 series is a
compact sedan with generous front seats and usable rear seats that are
a bit short on leg/head room. The 5 is a mid-size car which seats 5 in
reasonable comfort. The 7 is a large luxury car which has occasionally
been named one of the best cars in the world. In between have been
the 6 series, a luxury coupe built on the 5 series platform, and the 8
series, the follow-on to the 6 but built on a unique platform.
BMW's are named according to their model range, engine size, and other
characteristics (i.e. - 325iX). The first digit refers to the model range
(3 = 3-series), the following two digits refer to engine displacement
(25 = 2.5 liters), and the letters refer to a distinguishing feature,
body style, or characteristic of the car or engine.
(i = fuel injection, X = four-wheel drive)
However, note that before standardizing on the current 3,5,6,7,8-series
designations in the mid-1970's, BMW primarily used engine displacement to
name their cars. The most notable example is the 2002.
BMW has used a multitude of numbers and letters over the years, but they
have not always been consistent in their application except in the use of
the model range as the first number. Thus, there are many exceptions to
the designations discussed where the model name may not equate exactly to
the characteristics of the car. In addition, the letter 'A'(automatic) or
'C' (convertible) suffix may be appended to the model name; these, however,
do not appear as badges except on some older automatic models. The
following list has partial explanations of some of the of the letters used.
A = automatic
C = convertible
CS = coupe sport
i = injection; international
e = ETA (high mpg, high torque, low RPM) engine
L = long-wheelbase; luxury
M = Motorsport
s = sport; also used to denote coupe body in NA markets
t = touring; touring could equate to hatchback, wagon, or
sport versions of early models
td = turbodiesel
tds = intercooled turbodiesel
X = four-wheel drive
Z = models developed by BMW Technik; new roadster designation
Exceptions to the standard model designations involve models originating
from BMW Motorsport, the racing arm of BMW. Models produced by this
division have an 'M' prefix followed by the original model range on which
the car is based (M3, M5, M6).
In addition, BMW occasionally makes cars outside these series entirely.
These are usually roadsters or specialtity cars. Examples are the Isetta
(a small "city car" with three wheels and a motorcycle engine), the M1
(the original M car, an exotic coupe), the Z1 (euro only) and Z3 roadsters,
and the E1 electric car.
BMW only imports limited versions of it's cars to the US. In Europe
many more variations are possible, including smaller engines (e.g. the
316), Touring models (station wagons, occasionally imported), diesels
(occasionally imported) and cars with fewer luxury options. Because
of EPA restrictions, Euro engines often have more power.
Like many car manufacturers, BMW assigns code names to their
models/chassis while they are in development (i.e. - E36/2).
The 'E' translates into a German word for 'development'.
Each 'E-number' refers to a model series (3,5,6,7,8) with
variations such as station wagons, hatchbacks, or convertibles.
Models created before the E-system have Type numbers.
Thus, an E36/2 would represent a 1992 or later 3-series coupe, the 2nd
variant of the E36 chassis. See the table for further examples.
Variant (Euro) Model Body Style
- ------- ------ ------------------- ----------
114 1967-74 1502/1602/1802/2002 2d sedan
115 1962-64 1500 4d sedan
116 1600 4d sedan
118 1963-? 1800/1800Ti/1800TiSA 4d sedan
120 1966-? 2000/2000Ti/ 4d sedan
121 1965-69 2000C/2000CS 2d coupe
E3 2500 - 3.3Li 4d sedan
E6 1600/1800/ 2d coupe/3d hatch
E9 2.5CS - 3.0CSL 2d coupe
E10 2002ti/2002tii 2d coupe
E12 1973-81 5-series 4d sedan
E12/8 1973-81 5-series-see above 4d sedan - South African
E20 1973-74 2002 turbo 2d coupe
E21 1976-82 3-series 2d coupe
E23 1978-86 7-series 4d sedan
E24 1976-89 6-series 2d coupe
E26 1979-80 M1 2d mid-engine coupe
E28 1982-88 5-series 4d sedan
E30 1983-91 3-series 2d coupe/4d sedan/convertible
E30/5 1987-91 3-series 'Touring' 5d wagon
E30/16 1987-91 3-series iX 2d coupe/4d sedan (4WD)
E31 1990- 8-series 2d coupe
E32 1987-94 7-series 4d sedan
E32/2 1987-94 7-series 4d sedan LWB
E34 1989-94 5-series 4d sedan/5d wagon
E34/2 1989-94 5-series 5d wagon
E36 1992- Current 3-series 4d sedan
E36/2 1992- 3-series see-above 2d coupe/convertible
E36/3 ? 3-series 'Compact' 5d hatch
E36/5 1994- 3-series 'Compact' 3d hatch
E36/6 1994- 3-series 'Touring' 5d wagon
E36/7 1996- Z3 2d roadster - U.S. made
E36/8 1997? Z3 coupe 3d hatchback - U.S. made
E38 1995- New 7-series 4d sedan
E38/2 1995- 7-series 4d sedan LWB
E39 1996- New 5-series 4d sedan
Z/B 1987-91 Z1 roadster 2d convertible
<Show Cars - concept cars that have been displayed at various auto shows>
E1/E2 1992/93 electric prototypes 3d hatch
Z13 1993 hybrid city car 3d hatch
<Rumors/Speculation - not yet (maybe ever) in production;
BMW's middle name is "motor", and the quality of their engines lives
up to it. Long lived, they are just getting broken in around 30k
miles, and with care easily last 200k and more. They are overdesigned
enough to take major HP modifications in stride. The performance versions,
as in the M cars, produce as much or more HP/Liter as any contemporary
(normally aspirated) production engine. They run smooth, eagerly pull
to redline and can run hard at redline all day without missing a beat.
Combine all that with a clean design which makes them a joy to work on.
The early cars (2002, early 3 series, etc) were powered by variations
on a well designed 4 cylinder block. This same basic engine has been
in use for over 25 years, and forms the basis of the very successful
E30 M3 race engines. Rumor has it that blocks for 1000+ HP Formula 1
race cars were simply selected off the manufacturing lines.
Later BMW added a large (3+ liter) in-line 6 for it's larger cars
and a small (~2.5 liter) 6 to improve the performance of it's smaller
cars. Each of these has gone through several variations over the years.
More recently BMW has built several new engines, including a V12 for
it's largest cars, V8s in a couple of sizes and a new aluminium block
2.8 liter in-line 6.
The M engines started with a major modification of the big 6 block
for the M1. It included several elements tuned for racing, including
o-rings instead of gaskets, one throttle per cylinder, etc. Later
the same technology was applied to the 4 cylinder block with a
4 valve/cylinder head to produce the E30 M3 engine.
The small-6 SOHC engine is designated the M20 series. This motor started
out in 1978 with the E21 320/6 and 323i models. As the names suggest,
the 320/6 was a 2-liter with a 4-barrel carb, and the 323i was a
2.3 liter with K-Jetronic injection.
The ETA engine, at 2.7 liters, is basically a bored and stroked version
of the 2.3 liter with Motronics, a special economy camshaft, lighter
valve springs, and a special long and small diameter runner intake
manifold. The head was basically the same as the 2.3 otherwise, with
smaller valves and ports.
The E30 325i motor is another derivation of this series of motors.
For this one, BMW shortened the stroke of the ETA engine, and used
a cylinder head with bigger ports and valves, along with a more
radical cam and stiffer valve springs (over the ETA). A larger throttle
body was also included in the package with the 323i style manifold.
The M50 engine (92-on 325i, 525i) is pretty much more or less a new
design. It is, however, based on the M20 engines.
The E30 M3 engine used the same basic block as the '84-'85 318i, and
all the other M10 4-cylinders that came before it. ('63 1500 through
the 2002 through the 320i through the early 318i) The single cam
version had a 23+ year run. The M3 version has siamesed cylinders
and a longer stroke crank, along with the 16-valve head.
The M40 engines found in the '91-on 318i's are not related to the
earlier motors in anyway.
Hope this helps, and there may be errors in the above information.
1.2.2: Engine Codes
As with the E-chassis designations, BMW uses internal code names to refer
to its engines (i.e - M50/B25). The first combination (M50) refers to the
engine family while the second combination refers to engine displacement
(B25 = 2.5 liters). Engines developed by BMW Motorsport are prefixed with
an 'S' (i.e. - S14/B23). An engine family generally consists of a
particular engine type with several different displacements.