The BMW 3200 CS is a car that deserves to be far better known than it is, it was the first BMW to feature the Hofmeister kink, the first to carry the “CS” designation, and the first to wear circular tail lights.
The 3200 CS was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at the age of just 22 while he was working at Bertone, he would go on to become one of the most important car designers in history. Only approximately 600 examples of the car were made before it left production in 1965.
Fast Facts – The BMW 3200 CS
- The BMW 3200 CS was produced by the German automaker between 1961 and 1965, it was initially unveiled at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show alongside the Neue Klasse (New Class) BMW 1500.
- The 3200 CS was the first BMW to feature the iconic “Hofmeister kink” in its design, an unusual forward angle change near the base of the C pillar on both sides of the car. It would become a BMW design characteristic going forward.
- The 3200 CS was based on the same platform as the earlier BMW 3200S four-door sedan and it was powered by the highly-regarded 3.2 liter BMW OHV V8 engine.
- The car was styled by Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone and it was marketed as a luxury grand tourer.
- Despite its stylish design, high-performance engine, and luxurious interior, the 3200 CS had relatively low sales due to its higher price point, leading to its discontinuation and replacement with the BMW 2000 C and BMW 2000 CS.
- Despite its short production run, the BMW 3200 CS remains a highly sought-after classic today thanks to its alluring combination of styling, luxury, performance, and rarity.
The 3200 CS: A German In An Italian Suit
The BMW 3200 CS features an unmistakably Italian design, a design that’s been favorably compared with the Alfa Romeo 105/115 series coupes from the same era – particularly when viewed in side profile.
The similarities between the BMW and the Alfas should come as no surprise really as both were penned by the same man, the aforementioned young Italian stylist working at Bertone named Giorgetto Giugiaro.
The origins of the 3200 CS were always going to be Italian, BMW’s marketing manager Helmut Werner Bonsch had noticed that the beautiful body on the Lancia Flaminia coupe would fit the dimensions of the BMW 3200L sedan almost perfectly.
He presented his idea for a Pininfarina-bodied BMW-Flaminia to the BMW board of directors who rejected it, but it led to conversations with BMW chief engineer Fritz Fiedler – and Bertone was commissioned to design a new coupe body for the BMW 3200S sedan platform.
This new car would be powered by the same engine as the 3200S and the earlier 503 and it would share most of its underpinnings to keep development costs down – BMW was already heavily investing in the Neue Klasse (New Class) platform that would define its future and so the budget for the 3200 CS was tight.
Each of the bodies for the 3200 CS were produced in Italy by Bertone then shipped by rail to BMW in Germany where they would be finished, and built into completed cars. This process was expensive and time consuming, resulting in a retail cost of 30,000 Deutschmarks per car when new – the cost of a small house at the time.
The performance of the 3200 CS was inline with what consumers would have expected for a luxury GT car at the time with an autobahn-friendly top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph), thanks in no small part to the 160 bhp 3.2 liter all-alloy BMW V8 under the hood.
Due to the limited numbers in which it sold and the fact that it was largely overshadowed by the release of the Neue Klasse vehicles the BMW 3200 CS lived almost in obscurity for many years. More recently its appeal is growing as more people learn of its existence.
The BMW 3200 CS Specifications
- The BMW 3200 CS was built on a perimeter frame sourced from the 3200S, it shared the same suspension, brakes, and drivetrain as the larger sedan, as well as the same 3.2 liter V8 engine.
- The 3.2 liter BMW V8 had an alloy block and heads for lower weight, with two overhead valves per cylinder, two carburetors, and it made 160 bhp which was sent back through a 4-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels.
- The 3200 CS uses the same independent front suspension and live axle rear end of the 3200S, with torsion bar springs on all four wheels, and front disc brakes paired with rear drums – a common arrangement for the era.
- The bodies were each made by Bertone in Italy and then shipped to Germany by train for completion.
- The performance of the BMW 3200 CS was roughly on par with what buyers would have expected in the early 1960s, the top speed was 200 km/h (124 mph) and the 0 – 62 mph time was approximately 14 seconds, which was arguably a little on the slow side.
The BMW 3200 CS Shown Here
The car you see here is a 1965 BMW 3200 CS, making it one of the last produced as production ended the same year. This vehicle was first registered in Germany on June the 3rd 1965 and the original German registration documents still accompany the car today.
It was sent to Italy in 2018 where it received a full restoration, a fitting location given that this is where its body was originally made. The car has now been kept carefully preserved and hasn’t even been registered for road use to ensure it remains pristine.
If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on The Market by Bonhams. It’s currently being offered in a live online auction out of Modena, Italy.
Images courtesy of The Market by Bonhams
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.