Barockengel: 1961 BMW 2600 Luxus

61bmw

When we think of BMW, luxury is often part of the equation. But more often than not, especially among enthusiast circles, the brand’s provenance as a performance-oriented manufacturer is what we think of. M3s, M5s, the venerable 3-Series – wildly entertaining to drive and sometimes even affordable. But prior to that identity being cultivated, BMW’s attention was locked on competing with the likes of Mercedes for luxury buyers. Enter the 1961 BMW 2600 Luxus here on eBay, recently pulled from long-term storage by the seller. Special thanks to Charles H. for this tip!

61bmw2

I’ve only seen one of these in real life, and the body lines will leave you wondering if you’re actually staring at a BMW. Fortunately, the trademark kidney grills will clue you in, as will the roundels on the hubcaps. The first offering of this car was known as the 501 and later as the 502 which included the automotive industry’s first mass-produced aluminum-block V8 engine, which offered a much-needed boost in power to move the large saloon with authority.

61bmw3

Later cars like this one underwent a nomenclature change to 2600 and 2600L, respectively. This one on offer bears the “L” designation, which also signifies it has the more powerful 110 b.h.p. engine. Paired with a manual transmission, I’ll bet this is a car you’d enjoy hustling to Cars and Coffee on an autumn morning. The seller claims it ran when he pulled it into long-term storage, but offers no insight as to whether the engine still turns freely. The interior was redone before the car was stored, and it still looks tidy inside.

61bmw4

As for getting that smooth-idling V8 back in action, your guess is as good as mine. Parts availability will likely be a challenge, as the seller notes the shared components between the 501/502 and BMW’s famed 507 resulted in many of the sedan variants being pillaged to keep the more desirable roadsters on the road. The car is located in Florida and only has spots of surface rust across most of the body and no serious rot detected. The bidding is over $7K with the reserve unmet, and I’m willing to bet it will be the only one we’ll see on eBay for quite some time.

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Comments

  1. skloon

    Reminds me of a DKW

    • Tony Catania

      Had A 1960 Back In 1972 Mine Was White Paid $700.00 For It From A Graduate Student Out At Stony Brook University.In Suffolk County NY. I Had The Only One Around Don’t Think That BMW Had A Dealer Network When These Were Made.Had Suicide Rear Doors & 4 On The Tree Shifter
      Got Stares Every Where Even Back Then.Had 3 Arm Rests In The Back Seat.Didnt Handle Like A 2002 Though Engine Over Heated In A Traffic Jam & Cooked The Aluminum Engine Mechanic Wanted $700.00 For His Time . Signed Title Over To Pay My Bill.

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Skloon…….DKW had a V8 in their lineup? Ever?

  2. Mark E

    The only one I saw in real life was in Salt Lake City back in the mid-70s. It was sitting in a parking lot with a for sale sign on it so I took the opportunity to look it over. As the doors were unlocked I got to sit in it and yes, they are relatively huge. Reminded me of the senior class 1950s Mercedes.

  3. Dolphin Member

    Cars like this almost cost BMW its future. They were so expensive to design and build, and they sold so few of them that BMW almost went bankrup. This car was probably one of the last of the Baroque angles to be built. They actually stopped the 501 model line around 1959, so this car is just a continuation, probably until they used up all the parts they had.

    BMW then survived by building smaller cars, and ended up inventing a new category, the sports sedan. I remember reading David E. Davis’ story on the 2002 in an old issue of Car and Driver. The rest is history.

    I never wanted one of these Baroque angles but I sure wanted a 507, which used the same 2.6 liter V8 this car has. Various famous people owned one, including John Surtees, who used to ‘commute’ to races all over Europe in his.

    Then I was at a car show years ago in the 1970s or ’80s and there was a white 507 that lookled perfect. I overheard the owner and his friend talking about that fact that that car was the first BMW to sell for $1 million.

    I’ve never driven or been in a 501 but I hear they are high quality but heavy and a bit dull to drive. This one is bid to almost $9K on 18 bids so far, so it will sell. I hope it will be taken good care of and make it to car shows so people can see what modern BMWs came from.

  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    A really interesting car and story.

  5. Mark S Member

    For a big sedan this car has very nice lines, suicide doors really add to it. It’s styling looks more early 50’s to me. I have never seen one before, nice find I like it.

  6. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Really like it….is that a Series 2002? coupe behind it ?

  7. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Back in ’82 I was working overseas in the UK. The assignment was for several months. My plan being single was to work during the weekdays and look for a Jaguar MKIX on the weekends to bring back home to Massachusetts.

    MKIX’s are even harder to find in the UK and the regular precipitation doesn’t help the longevity of old cars not burdened by rustproofing measures. The size of the Jag, coupled with the lack of garages in Bury, Lancashire and the surrounding areas tend to eliminate any chance of finding one of these examples. Gas was similarly priced with our cost per gallon being almost the same as the per liter pricing in the UK.

    Once it sank in that a big Jaguar wouldn’t be easy to find, my sights opened up somewhat. Up until that time, most of the cars going through my hands were Fintail Mercedes, so German discipline was familiar.

    Wandered in to a breaker’s yard, we call them junkyards or boneyards. They always had cars that would pass MOT and were for sale along with other examples that weren’t quite ready for the road in all sorts of years, though in the UK the plate tells the year by a letter. This means someone doesn’t say its year but says its an M reg, which to me meant nothing.

    Saw one of these, in my price range, and it looked pretty good. Had managed to get to know the owner of the yard as he had a Continental MKIV he needed parts for in the future, I ended up being his source.

    Looked the car over reminded me of a smaller Adenauer Benz. Was informed it had a V8. Being Europe, figured the engine would be lucky to have 3 liters, but wanting to see the engine I started to pop the hood.

    Was then told the engine was in the trunk. Surprised and disappointed at the prospect of another German car having a rear engine. Opened the trunk and it was partly true. The engine was there but it was disassembled and in several boxes. The trunk was large and the motor wasn’t, but it was light and made of alloy.

    Considered seriously buying the car. Seriously enough that the following day, too a long lunch and pulled everything out of the trunk and laid parts out on cardboard to take inventory, to assure what was actually there or missing.

    Put in a call to a friend of mine who ran the parts department at a MB dealership as he had worked for BMW and still knew someone there to check with on parts availability.

    Fred asked a few pertinent questions, when he and Dieter heard the engine was apart their combined yell could be heard in the other room. Both loved the model but told me it would make my 300SE Fintail look absolutely miserly when it comes to spending money for parts.

    Oh yes, parts, never going to happen as very few made it to the States and the few left in Europe meant the parts were going to be major investments. Was also made aware of the MOT curse. For the uninitiated, the curse is that the MOT tends to make people short term decisions on car maintenance, repairs that need to make it through this test, not necessarily the NEXT one.

    Oddly enough the car looks like a much bigger Morris Minor, but it is German and made with that Teutonic structural goodness we American’s have come to expect.

    My car choices came down to a ’68 Rolls-Royce for $8500 or a 1965 Jaguar MKII for considerably less. Loved the Rolls but having never imported a car the game plan was import the car but if they give me any trouble at the docks, I was going to walk away from it completely. Not having a trust fund, I opted for the MKII, but I did have a new Webasto installed before it was shipped home. Still have the car.

    Still think about the Beemer’s V8, though no one here would’ve known what the car was anyways. Even BMW owners kept telling me the only car they made was a tiny one bigger than the Isetta that ran off a 600cc motorcycle engine, A V8! They laughed.

  8. patrol

    I love the car, but Hagerty values a level 4 car at $8k which bidding has gone beyond that. What do you think should i continue bidding. And what do you think it is worth max?

    • Dave Wright

      I had one of these sitting in the corner of the shop I bought in Germany during the late 70’s and always thought it was very cool. We never really messed with it or tried to get it running. As far as book value……I am not putting much weight on anything they say unless it is a common street car. The market proves the books wrong more times than not with these unusual or rare cars.

      • patrol

        Thank you Dave

  9. Dolphin Member

    Sold for $19,600 with 40 bids.
    I wonder if it went to a European bidder.

  10. rich voss

    I love this model/body style. Classic. Reminded me of cars from the late ’30’s.
    These were all over Bavaria and Franconia when I was stationed in Germany during the tail end of the ’60’s. They were the “state” and “county” police cars. White body, forest green fenders and roof and the unmistakable single blue “gumball-machine”. Fast, Hans, very fast. I guessed that they had a V8 based on how fast they accelerated.
    Thought about buying one to ship home, but never found one for sale. Had no idea that they were so expensive at that time. Or now, for that matter.

  11. Seb

    The 501 became very famous in Germany as a policecar. It played the namegiving role in a TV series from 1960 to 1963 called “ISAR 12”, played in the streets of Munich.
    https://youtu.be/SW-rgRMxjNU

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