The cars we loved.
The Glas 1600 GT was a rear wheel drive sport coupe built by the small Glas company of West Germany. Glas, like Lamborghini started building farm equipment, but instead of exotic sports cars it built practical solidly engineered vehicles in the 50’s. By the mid 60’s, Glas began selling a line of sporty cars. The most attractive of these, the 1600 GT, incorporated a number of advanced technical features that made it stand out in the emerging German car market. Designed by Italian Pietro Fura (Maserati Mistral, AC Frua), the 1600 GT was an attractive if not somewhat derivative looking coupe that combined graceful tapered rear end look of the Porsche 911 with the front of a BMW 507.
The resulting design, motivated by a 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engine and a 4 speed manual transmission had an impressive 105 hp rating. It’s low weight and relatively high horsepower meant that the 1600 GT could easily reach its top speed of 115mph, a figure that was almost supercar like in its day (unheard of for a measly four-cylinder at the time). The 1600 GT was designed to compete with popular British sports cars of the era, but Glas was in no position to match the distribution and marketing networks of the English competition. Besides, many competitors offered V6 and 8 designs, while Glas made due with 4 cylinders most (with a few exceptions). Even in its native Germany, it was nothing more than a niche player, building an odd range of small cars like the GoGo Mobile that were perfectly suited for tight urban spaces of post war Europe. However odd the cars, the Glas company was know for it’s many technical innovations, often firsts in the automotive business, but never cashing in on its forsight.
Unfortunately for Glas, the 1600 GT never caught on and the company’s attempts at increasing horsepower with the 1700 GT did not improve sales. The 1600/1700 GT cars did catch the attention of BMW and in 1966 it bought Glas and absorbed its small quirky line of cars into its own. The Glas technical innovations showcased in the 1600 GT coupe like the first use of timingbelts in an overhead cam car engine spread to other BMW’s. The 1600 was re- engineered by BMW, with a new rear axel and slightly altered front end. The revised car sold as the BMW 1600 GT until 1968. It was replaced by the now legendary 2500 CS.
A few 1600 GTs made it to America and are considered very rare collectables. Only 1002 were produced during the entire production run from 1967 to 1968. The Glas influence went a long way in advancing BMW technology and making it more reliable. Although the 2500 CS is credited to being the source for 3 Series inspiration, it was actually the 1600 GT that really set BMW on the path to creating a reliable high performance compact car that was as fun to drive as it was practical.