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BMW 303

BMW cars archive - the 1930's

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Visit also: 1931 BMW 3/15 DA 4 | 1932 BMW 3/20 PS | 1934 BMW 309 | 1934 BMW 315 | 1934 BMW 319 | 1935 BMW 3/15 Ihle Type 600 / 800

BMW unveils the 303 with the slogan "The most perfect, high-performance German small car". Cheap to run and low-maintenance, it is the last word in economy and outperforms the competition with its 1.2 litre six-cylinder engine. This, the patented tube frame and the double air intake grille at the front all signal the direction the brand's development will take.

1933 - 1934 BMW 303
Saloon, Cabrio-saloon, Cabriolet and Tourer
Fuel type
22kW | 30HP
Top Speed
90km/h | 56mph

Fuel Consumption (l/100km | mpg)
10 | 23.5


Units produced
Cost at production start
3,600 Reichsmarks

Source for technical specifications:

After BMW had become automobile manufacturers relatively late, in 1928, by acquiring the "Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach", a subsidiary of the "Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG", manufacturers of the Dixi cars, it was content at first to continue to build and improve on the existing 3/15 small car, manufactured under the Austin licence.

Around 1931, BMW began to design its own first car. The new model presented in March 1932, the BMW 3/20 PS AM 1, appealed to customers despite an engine output that was barely sufficient, due to its space and high level of quality. It also suffered from poor roadholding due to its self-willed front axle design. The BMW designers' high standards were by no means satisfied even with this car, of which three model series were produced. In Germany, meanwhile, the national economy was becoming ever stronger and it was becoming possible to sell luxury cars as well.

For the new car, engine designer Rudolf Schleicher developed a six-cylinder inline engine with a displacement of only 1.2 litres, a modern integral design in grey cast iron with a split crankcase and main bearings at every second cylinder, possibly influenced by American engines of the time. The chassis of the new car, which in due course became the 303, was also a new design with a light steel tube frame and new front and rear axles, which were far more successful than those of the previous car. The new chief designer, Fritz Fiedler, who came to BMW from Horch, was responsible for this chassis. A successfully tuned suspension and direct rack-and pinion steering made the BMW 303, which was also far more elegant in its styling, into the first "driver's car" in BMW's history. Its six-cylinder engine was, together with engines from Triumph and MG, among the smallest in the world. It was powerful and smooth, and enabled the BMW 303 to stand out clearly from the other vehicles in its category.

BMW built a total of 2,300 cars of this type in 1933 and 1934, with the bodies being manufactured in Sindelfingen only at the start of production. The Daimler-Benz body plant in Sindelfingen supplied the bodies for the BMW 303 saloons, but other companies delivered the bodies for the small number of sports convertibles, convertible saloons and open-topped four-seaters that were built.

BMW 303 convertible & BMW 303 saloon

Description: After BMW's initial successes in automobile manufacturing with the BMW 3/15 PS and BMW 3/20 PS baby cars, work started in the early thirties on the design of a compleletely new model with six-cylinder engine. This was the Type 303, notable for a most successful chassis design and offering remarkable journey comfort with the amount of space demanded by customers at the time, and a vigorous engine. This model began the BMW tradition of high-performance six-cylinder cars that has persisted until this very day.

Type of body:

  • 542 two-seater convertibles
  • 27 sports convertibles
  • 2 open four-seaters
  • 1,503 saloons open four-seaters
  • 150 roll-top saloons

Source: BMW Group Archive

Visit also: 1931 BMW 3/15 DA 4 | 1932 BMW 3/20 PS | 1934 BMW 309 | 1934 BMW 315 | 1934 BMW 319 | 1935 BMW 3/15 Ihle Type 600 / 800

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