1961 700 RS
1961 BMW 700 RS #1
697cc M106 opposed twin-cylinder, 78 hp @ 8,500 rpm
Rey Rivera (since 2012)
San Juan Capistrano, California
In 1959, with its sedans selling slowly and its shareholders in revolt, BMW found a pair of much-needed saviors: investor Herbert Quandt, and the 700 Coupe, a tiny two-door that proved an immediate hit on the road and an unlikely success on the track.
In 1960, the 700 Coupe became the hillclimb mount of choice for racing legend Hans Stuck, Sr. Then 60 years old, Stuck was known as “King of the Mountains” for his prewar exploits in rear-engined Auto Union GP cars. The 700 had its engine in the rear, too, and it propelled Stuck to the 1960 German hillclimb championship.
Stuck’s success convinced BMW engine/motorsport boss Alex von Falkenhausen to turn the 700 Sport into a real race car. He assigned Ludwig Apfelbeck to improve its 60-hp M107S engine, and Apfelbeck turned its cylinders 90° to put the carbs on top and the exhaust at bottom, added chain drive to the exhaust cam and bumped compression from 9:1 to 9.8:1. The result? 70 hp at 8,000 rpm from the same 697cc. The first 700 RS—for Rennsport, or Race Sport—known as chassis #1 got its own steel-tube space frame with double wishbones and coil-over dampers, as well as bespoke aluminum bodywork, but it borrowed the roadgoing 700’s drum brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, even the rear window, repurposed as the windshield.
Prior to its debut at Rossfeld on June 18, 1961, BMW noted that #1 was based on the 700 road car, and that it would compete against the Porsche RSK with more than twice the horsepower. Stuck DNF’d after damaging the car’s clutch, and he was too tall for the RS anyway. He returned to a standard 700 Sport for most of 1961, while Walter Schneider raced #1 to victory in the 1,000cc sports car class at Schauinsland and at Gaisburg, Austria, where Stuck drove it to 2nd. (Also in 1961, Stuck drove 700 RS #2 at Schorndorf, probably to a DNF.)
For 1962, 700 RS chassis #1 got a new 78-hp M106 engine with twin cooling fans and single overhead cams, believed to be the only one of its kind. Chassis #1’s results from 1962 are unverified, though it probably raced at the Nürburgring as well as in hillclimbs with Eppelein, von Falkenhausen and/or Schneider.
Both 700 RSs remained at BMW through 1964, when they were sold to Willi Martini. Later, #1 was sold to Wolfgang Franz of Minden, Germany. Franz put it in storage until January 2000, when he sold the car to Elliott Butler of Atlanta, Georgia. Butler got it running for the Hilton Head Concours in 2012, then sold it to current owner Rey Rivera of California.