BMW itself cites the link with the E9. That beautiful coupé - built from 1968 to 1975 - is said to be the inspiration behind the new 4 Series. The E9 still really has the classic BMW shark nose, with the front hanging slightly forward. Something that its successor - the 6-series (E24) - also had. Perhaps the most famous E9 is the 3.0 CSL. It was largely developed by Alpina and was a lighter, more hardcore version of the 3.0 CSi.
If we go further back in BMW history, the kidneys get bigger. Take, for example, the 503 Coupé and Cabriolet from the 1950s. They are both beautiful cars, with the elongated kidneys protruding deep into the bumper, but at the same time matching the overall design perfectly. The 503 was built in a weird time for BMW. The manufacturer made expensive luxury cars on the one hand, but tiny Isettas on the other.
The classic BMW that we feel most resemble the 4 Series is the 328 Kamm Coupé from 1940. It is based on the 328 sports car, of which only 464 copies were produced between 1938 and 1940. The unique 328 Kamm Coupé - which took part in the Mille Miglia in 1940 - was sent for scrap in 1953. In 2010, BMW presented a reproduction at Villa d'Este, in honor of the 70th anniversary of the 328's Mille Miglia victory.
A little further back than, to the early 1930s. The BMW 303 was a compact family sedan and the very first BMW ever with the two kidney grille. And what kidneys! The two knoeperds cover almost the entire nose of the 303, which was later joined by the 309, 315, 319 and 329. Very nice are the 315/1 and 319/1 Roadster, the first of which has no less than 40 hp (poe poe! ) from a six-cylinder inline engine.
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