“Those who come too late are punished by life.” This sentence by the Russian diplomat Gennady Gerasimov, most of which is attributed to Mikhail Gorbachev, is a quotation that is often used; it fits many situations. But you can also simply be too early, like the BMW Touring, which came onto the market in the early summer of 1971. It was a hatchback variant of the famous 02 series (internal series 114) that had been on the market since 1966. When touring started 50 years ago, the 1600, 1800, 2000 and 2000 tii versions came first, and later the 1600 was canceled and replaced by the 1800. From 1973 onwards, all type designations ended with 02. In contrast to today, the engine size corresponds with it, all of them were four-cylinder, the rear wheels were driven, which was standard at the time.
The Touring, which was initially to be called City, premiered at the Brussels Motor Show in January. The 4.11 meter long two-door car was drawn by Paul Bracq. Cars with angled rear were still unusual back then, there were only a few others, the Renault 16 for example. But there was a trend in the air. The FAZ wrote in the trade fair report on January 20th: “The hatchback seems to be the rear end of the car of the future.” With the variant, BMW wanted to revive the 02 series, which had been on offer for five years and was quite successful. But the customer didn’t want to and couldn’t do anything with the concept. Only every tenth 114 was ultimately a touring.
BMW had promised a lot more, so the hatchback model was taken out of the program after three years. From this year on, the VW Golf, the successor to the VW Beetle, should herald the breakthrough for the sloping rear end. Its advantages are obvious: after all, a washing machine or refrigerator can also be transported without further ado. For car buyers in the early 1970s, however, a car usually had to be a sedan. With the variability – after all, the Touring even had split folding rear seat backrests – it obviously couldn’t do anything. There was even a flexible cover for the actual trunk, which was of course quite flat because a full spare wheel and the on-board tools were in the floor.
Today, Touring from 1971 to 1974 are more expensive on the classic car market than their limousine counterparts, simply because the range is much lower. Only a good 30,200 units were built, on the other hand more than 860,000 of the 02 series were produced in Munich from 1966 to March 1977. The 02 series had a similar chassis as the BMW 1600/1800/2000 four-door sedans, they were loved because they were so sporty to drive. At 4.23 meters, they were 20 centimeters shorter than the four-door models. And the touring models were cut another 12 centimeters shorter. They can be moved (almost) as well as their counterparts. At the time, the testers wrote that they were a little heavier and more prone to cross winds.