Blog: BMW 1-Series

blogbmw1Remember when you first saw the BMW 1-Series? What was your intial reaction? I can bet that it was not complimentary. Styling, as we all know, is a completely subjective matter; after all, there are people out there who think the Allegro is pretty, and that the Jaguar E-Type is ugly, and that shows just how unique we all are as individuals. But what one can rely on is the concensus: and it is the concensus of opinion that can drive us to make generalistic opinons about the way a car looks.

Take the BMW 1-Series: the concensus of opinion is that it is an ugly car. Quite a few people have commented that the Bangle-Jangle simply does not translate too well onto the smaller design. Allied with bulging headlamps that give it the bug-eyed look of someone being strangled, and the wierd cab-backwards stance, and you have yourself an awkward-looking hob-goblin of a car.

…the concensus of opinion is that the
BMW 1-Series is ugly… an awkward-
looking hob-goblin of a car.

That being the case, why is it that there are people out there (who really should know better) who say that this car is related to the still-born Rover R30 concept? Think about that for a moment. When did Rover ever produce an awkward-looking small car, given a free hand? Look at the R8, for example… given this degree of design freedom, the company produced a startlingly fresh looking car of its time. Yes, it could be argued that the follow-up 400 was a little awkward, but were the company’s hands not tied by Honda in this instance?

No, there is no resemblance between the gargoyle Beemer and the Rover R30. Why on Earth would BMW produce a rear-wheel-drive small car based upon a front wheel drive Rover? It simply does not add up. And why use the vestiges of a design penned in the UK, when the company was concerned about producing a new small car, which needed to incorporate all the core values precious to the brand? So there is no engineering commonality either.

This is backed up by an ex-Senior Rover designer who told me that the 1-Series bears no resemblance whatsoever to the sublime Richard Woolley designed Rover R30. However, it does look suprisingly similar to a R30 concept forwarded by BMW Style, rejected at an early stage of the R30 development. There are elements of current thinking in the 1-Series (glasshouse shape, rear door cut-outs), as there were in the R30, but that certainly does not link the two car.

Given that BMW went for a complete carte blanche with its new baby, it does seem strange that all elements of the R30 project were shipped out to Munich. After all, work on the 1-Series is alleged to have started the day after BMW sold Rover. So why would BMW need the R30? Why keep it? Surely BMW would have nothing to fear from a Phoenix-built R30? Perhaps it is time for Munich to release details of the car, so that we can make up our own minds. After all, BMW has nothing to lose.

Unless of course, the pretty Rover shades the clumsy Beemer..?

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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