The only thing people knew more or less for sure about the forthcoming BMW model series in early summer 1975 was its model designation: Following the 5 Series, which had already introduced a new era of model names, the first number was now to be either a “3” or a “4”. And, ultimately, “3” turned out to be correct. Today we know that this model marked the beginning of the most successful BMW model series of all times.
The big event took place right outside BMW’s front door, in the Munich Olympic Stadium, where in July 1975 BMW’s Board of Management presented an entirely new model series in this world-famous sports arena:
The frontal view of the new car was proudly dominated by the kidney grille standing out clearly from the radiator cover and continuing back along the engine compartment lid all the way to the windscreen in the form of a slight dome. This alone bore clear testimony to the new car’s resemblance to the BMW 5 Series.
The distinctive wedge shape of the two-door model, on the other hand, was new and characteristic, extending all the way to the unusually high rear end. With a number of critics not feeling too happy about this particular perspective, the rear end was toned down visually a bit later by adding a black plastic trim panel between the tail lights.
Sporting and compact: 4,355 Millimetres (171.5´´) Long, 2,563 Millimetres (100.9´´) Wheelbase.
Even so, everybody was thrilled by the new car. With dimensions making the new BMW 3 Series compact and straightforward in every respect, the car itself was nevertheless fully “grown up” for all practical requirements : Measuring 4,355 millimetres (171.5´´) in length, 1610 millimetres (63.4´´) in width, and 1,380 millimetres (54.3´´) in height, the new 3 Series marked an entirely new dimension in the BMW world. Wheelbase measuring 2,563 millimetres (100.9´´), in turn, ensured short overhangs front and rear, track measuring 1,364 millimetres (53.7´´) at the front and 1,377 millimetres (54.2´´) at the rear gave the car a wide and muscular stance on the road.
Carefully set-up for sporting performance, the suspension incorporated track control arms with independent spring strut suspension at the front and semi-trailing arms with independent spring strut suspension at the rear.