The BMW New Class (German: Neue Klasse) was a line of compact sedans and coupes produced by German automaker BMW starting with the 1962 1500 and continuing through the last 2002s in 1977.
Powered by BMW's celebrated four-cylinder M10 engine, the New Class models featured a fully independent suspension, MacPherson struts in front, and front disc brakes. Initially a family of four-door sedans and two-door coupes, the New Class line was broadened to two-door sports sedans with the addition of the 02 Series 1600 and 2002 in 1966.
Sharing little in common with the rest the line beyond power train, the sporty siblings caught auto enthusiasts' attention and established BMW as an international brand. Precursors to the famed BMW 3 Series, the two-doors' success cemented the firm's future as an upper tier performance car maker.
New Class four-doors with numbers ending in "0" were replaced by the larger BMW 5 Series in 1972. The upscale 2000C and 2000CS coupes were replaced by the six-cylinder BMW E9, introduced in 1969 with the 2800CS. The 1600 two-door was discontinued in 1975, the 2002 replaced by the 320i in 1975.
Introduced in September 1961 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the 1500 was produced from 1962 through 1966.
The four door monocoque three-box four door saloon, though modern to the eye, was in many ways conventional, using MacPherson strut front suspension which by this time was becoming mainstream. Less conventional was the independent rear suspension featuring coil springs and semi-trailing wishbones pivoted from a stout cross beam which also supported the differential housing. The "oversquare" cylinder dimensions of the original 1,499 cc model, along with the overhead camshaft marked out the car's new four cylinder engine as a modern design, with plenty of scope for future enlargement and development. (The engine would indeed continue to be fitted in the BMW 316/318 until 1988.) Another at that time unusual and imaginative touch involved canting the engine over at 30 degrees to the right of vertical, which was necessary in order to allow for the low bonnet/hood line, and which thereby contributed to the stylish look of the car.
Contemporary reports praised the all-round visibility and the commanding driving position while recording that it was necessary to lean forward a little to engage first and third gears due to the long travel distance of the gear lever. The large 40 cm tall luggage compartment was also commended.
In 1963, the nearly bankrupt BMW was able to pay its first dividend in 20 years due to increased sales thanks to the popularity of the 1500. It was able to achieve 80 hp (60 kW) and to accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in approximately 15 seconds. The performance was at the time considered lively in view of the engine size, and although the engine needed to be worked hard in order to achieve rapid progress, the engine ran smoothly and without gratuitous vibration even at speeds above 6,000 rpm. The firm suspension and correspondingly harsh ride came as a surprise to those conditioned by the BMW 501 to anticipate a more comfort oriented compromise in the handling/smoothness balance.
The 1961 1500 was the first BMW car to feature the Hofmeister kink in the C-pillar. One of the first known vehicles featuring this style element was the Kaiser-Frazer of 1951. The BMW 1500 was replaced in 1964 by the BMW 1600, but it was still made available in markets where higher capacity engines meant increased taxation.