Column: BMW needs another Halo car….and pronto!

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Why in the world would BMW need to launch a super expensive 2-seater limited production car in this economy? Aside from a few oil wealthy …

Why in the world would BMW need to launch a super expensive 2-seater limited production car in this economy? Aside from a few oil wealthy Arab nations or emerging market countries, the cash isn’t exactly flowing freely.

Let’s step back in time to the mid 80s when the U.S. was in the midst of a recession. BMW made a bold move to launch a pricey $58,720 M6 coupe. The M-tuned 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve straight-six mustered 256 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, 44 more than the standard 6 and enough to rocket the 3,598 lbs luxury coupe through the quarter-mile in 14.7 seconds at 94 mph. Quite impressive for mid 80s performance car. For comparison purposes, a well equipped E30 325i of that same era was priced at a today’s paltry $21,480.

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So what could $60k get you back in the 80s? Entry into a very exclusive club. In 1987, Road and Track featured the BMW M6 as one of the “10 Fastest Cars in America”. And being part of that elite club comes with a hefty price. But from speaking to the owners of the center I work for, they sold every single M6 that BMWNA could allocate them. During a recession!

Fast forward to 2000 when the Dot-Com bubble was in the middle of its pop; the BMW launches the Z8 prototype roadster. It was an instant success at auto shows around the world. Prospective customers flocked to BMW centers for a chance to own one and placing deposits that pretty much ensured the first 18 months of production were filled. In 2001, the production-ready Z8 came to market running on the underpinnings of the almighty E39 M5, powered by the S62 V8 naturally-aspirated engine producing 392 horsepower mated to a slick shifting 6-speed manual transmission capable of 0-60 in a blistering 4.5 seconds. Price for this gorgeous all-aluminum beast? A cool $128,000.

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To close out the model run of the Z8, BMW built the last 555 Z8 in Alpina-guise. The Alpina came only as an automatic, using a five-speed BMW Steptronic transmission mated to a 4.8 liter Alpina-tuned V8 motor from the Alpina E39 B10 V8 S rated at 375 hp; 17 less than the normal Z8, and 383 ft-lbs of torque at much lower rpm than the S62 unit.

Needless to say, BMW centers sold every single Alpina V8 Roadster. In fact today, the Alpina version of the Z8 commands 15 to 20 thousand dollars more than the normal Z8 on the open market and is probably one of the most sought after modern era BMW. With a price tag of $150,000 and more, if you had purchased an original Alpina V8 Roadster,you wouldn’t have lost a penny of your original $136,900. Not bad for a return on investment.

April 2008. The housing bubble bursts. Hundred year old financial institutions collapsed. BMW reveals the M1 Hommage.  The rumormill starts to swirl and speculations about a future mid-engine BMW supercar start to fill the imagination of bimmer fans. Surely, this could have been BMW’s answer to the Audi’s R8 supercar. But after all, BMW proves to be an innovator, not a follower. So sadly for all us die hard BMW fans, the dream didn’t come through, but we did get the 1 Series M Coupe.

So why must BMW come out with another “Halo”car? For starters, it will renew BMW’s commitment to its hardcore enthusiasts willing to pay a hefty price for a car of this kind. Such a car will spur excitement back into the brand that recently has been questioned over and over about its direction and commitment to core customer base. Some enthusiasts are already fleeing over to Audi, Porsche and Mercedes. And no, a limited paint color M3 Competition Package doesn’t qualify.

We need a car only BMW M can deliver: a mid-engine, 600 horsepower with a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, M-xDrive and carbon brakes. This isn’t too much to ask for.

I’ll even name it. Oh, I don’t know…how about an M1?

17 responses to “Column: BMW needs another Halo car….and pronto!”

  1. Justin-spinelli says:

    Thanks for your opinon but its really pretty much useless fantasy and sounds like something fanboys type up in their wet dreams.

  2. Shawn says:

    Great piece Manny!  I agree with your recipe for an M1, except for the all wheel drive and DCT.  Give it to me raw, and spare me the weight! ;)

    • Manny Antunes says:

      Thanks Shawn. I threw in the XDrive and DCT because knowing BMW, they’ll eventually do it anyway ;)

  3. Faust says:

    I don’t understand how Audi and MB can have viable supercars and BMW rants about how their’s will not be viable, the climate is not right, the economy is bad, etc. If anything 2 out of 3 potential buyers would prefer a BMW supercar to an Audi or MB.

    • La Ma says:

      I agree , BMW  should be able to sell plenty of their “supercar” compare to others.
      a new M6 based 2 seater mid engine carbon bodied car can be put together in a
      short time (1-2 years) as the drivetrain is already tried and done.
      with a price tag of 25-30% higher then the M6 should provide enough dough for a
      little extra cool factor.  Make it hybrid or 4wd I don’t care but neither is needed to
      make it good.
      Make it fast and good handling, exotic look and do not let chrisbangle even close
      to the design building.

    • Otto says:

      There are 3 main reasons for that.
      1. The R8 is derived from the Gallardo, same platform (slightly stretched) and same engine (slightly less powerful), hence lower development costs.
      2. BMW has less fire power than MB as it belongs to a bigger group (Daimler AG), so it’s easier for them to dump cash in R&D (MB released 2 supercars in a row, the SLR and the SLS). They can even afford losing money on some models (A/B class and Smart).
      3. BMW is a family owned business (the Quandt family is the main shareholder) and ran like a … family business. Not having enough fund to develop both, they’d rather have BMW investing in the new iBMW sub brand than in an image car. Also, remember how BMW withdrew from F1 championship a couple of years ago…

      You can also see in the recent news (new engine line), that reducing costs is also an important objective for BMW.
      The problem with all the above is that BMW will slightly lose his premium positioning and move somewhere between a mainstream and a premium brand. And if the iBMW sub brand is a failure, they will certainly lose their independence.

      • darkthrone says:

        Valid points all of them but still, with such a crazily expanding lineup of vehicles I don’t think the problem can be simply monetary. How can you have R&D money thrown at such vehicle as the 5-Series GT for example? Maybe BMW is taking the conservative approach but still, the technology is there, i8 or M6 platforms could possibly be used, M engines, transmissions, setups – all there. Even Alfa Romeo has 8C (yes OK, Fiat Group, Ferarri underpinnings, etc). Worse case, BMW work together with another manufacturer such as McLaren. This car would SELL. 

  4. in77 says:

    American advisers have told the German managers: “MAKE CARS GREEN,ecological, low energy consumption, not aggressive, reassuring, pacios, confortable” and listening the American consultants, now Bmw produces the Mercedes of the 90s .. .

  5. Tom Cardone says:

    great post.
    one can only hope….

  6. I can only dream this becomes a reality. If BMW made an R8/SLR fighter, you know they would do it up right. Even given the cost of R&D BMW could swing a profit – I know they could make it work. The enthusiasts who have the means would buy them up in a second. Bring me an M1 successor BMW…pretty please. I’ll start saving my pennies today. Great read, Manny. Enjoyed it brother. 

  7. Midas says:

    According to a few sources, there might be an M8 mid engined supercar. The platform will come from the i8 electric supercar so it will not be too costly to develop. Instead of being electric it will have a “M” V8 or tri turbo 6. On top of that a Z5 might also be produced to give BMW an SL/911 competitor. A Z3 would then replace the slow selling Z4 which isnt quite a serious sports car nor a back to basics premium mx5 which is what the original Z3 was. If these rumors prove True, BMW will regain its mojo.

  8. Spade says:

    We all wish BMW would make another supercar, but honestly, BMW is becoming the conservative German car maker these days. BMW in the 80’s, 90’s, and even very early of the 2000’s BMW was a car company that was more liberal and a bit more experimental than other car companies, but really in the past decade, the car company we all know and love has changed drastically.

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