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1997 BMW Z14 (C1)

In Frankfurt (September 1997), on the stand of the Bavarians among the cars, there is something called the BMW C1. However, only the concept and the external outlines remained from the experimental sample five years ago. The whole "filling" has acquired a more traditional look. Of course! The car is declared as a "2000 model" with all the ensuing consequences. So how will the Bavarian company please us in a couple of years?


You can be as sophisticated as you want for a long time, coming up with the names of the car (BMW itself as soon as it was not called - from "Citymobile" to "Car Scooter"), but the most clearly the concept of the C1 model will sound like this: a single two-wheeled car. The device is based on a tubular frame with a rectangular "ridge" and a "grid" of pipes forming an egg-shaped capsule, open from the sides and protecting the driver from a frontal impact and from a "flip" through the roof. And in case of side and rear impact, as well as in case of overturning, the "contents" of the capsule (as five years ago, sitting in a chair and fastened with two diagonal and one waist belt) will be protected by tubular arches located in the area of the driver's shoulders and pelvis. Some of the pipes are made of aluminum, which absorbs shocks better than steel. It is not surprising that such a perfect protection structure allowed the device to pass the crash test at the company's landfill easily.


Unlike the carrier base, the "filling" of the BMW C1 is of motorcycle-scooter origin. And here everything is done, "according to the last squeak." Tellever type front suspension, cast 12-inch wheels, disc brakes with ABS... The engine is also the most modern: a single-cylinder "four-stroke" liquid-cooled engine with four valves, interlocked with an automatic variator, borrowed from the Aprilia Leonardo scooter. The choice is not accidental: The Bavarians have long-standing ties with this Italian motorcycle company (BMW F650 motorcycles have been assembled at the Aprilia plant for more than one year). The parameters of the motor (125 "cubes" of volume, 15 hp) allow the driver in some European countries to do without special motorcycle "rights," limiting himself to automobile ones. At the same time, the power is sufficient to accelerate a 175-kilogram "two-wheeled cage" to 100 km/h.


At the sight of the BMW C1, it seems that in front of you is a creation from films about the "bright future" and not a "ready-to-use" vehicle. And all this "economy" is covered from above with plastic body parts of a very peculiar design. Everything looks flashy, exotic and does not cause any emotions. And if the "tail" of the car, which includes a unique luggage platform, looks entirely organic, then there is, in general, nothing to look at from the front.


It seems that the specialists of the BMW Design Center, who designed the device, decided to do everything "according to automotive" standards: ponderous, solid, and... impersonal. At least, young people riding scooters around Italy, France, and other countries are unlikely to like this structure. Still, 2.15 meters long (30-40 centimeters longer than usual), "chained" to a chair (albeit anatomical), and the complete inability to ride a girlfriend is not for them. And the price! Yes, for this money (in Germany - about DM10.000) you can buy a 250 cc luxury scooter or a 500 cc motorcycle!..


However, BMW does not count on young people. At least, in the branded photos of the car behind the wheel, you will not see either a rabid tomboy with disheveled hair or charming girls rushing through the streets. The main client of the Bavarian specialists is a respectable businessman of about forty, in a suit and with a gold watch on his wrist. A person will appreciate passive safety, an anatomical chair, a roof over his head, and a trunk sufficient to accommodate an attache case. Yes, and such an uncle will not stand for the price.


And then, you see, the appearance will be retouched with the help of Aprilia designers, making it less lean. However, half a century ago, scooters were also perceived by "true motorcyclists" as a firm slap in the face to public taste.


Source: Отто Кац - "Скутер для папочки" (Жунал "Мотор" 12-1997) (translated from Russian)

Images Source: Bayern Motoren-Werke AG