Today BMW is a top player in the luxury vehicle market, but it wasn't always so. With origins as an airplane engine builder early in the 20th Century, it broke into the automotive industry when it bought Automobilwerk Eisenach in 1928. That German manufacturer was licensed to build the Austin Seven under the name Dixi DA-1, which could be had in a roadster body style. In 1929, BMW dropped the Dixi name, and by 1936, it was building a car it designed in-house, the 326 sedan. That was followed by the company's first roadster of its own design, the swoopy two-door 327 of 1937.

XCAR picks up there, and gives a history of BMW's iconic roadsters starting with the 327, ending with today's Z4, and covering everything in between - including the beautiful post-war 507 of 1957 and the funky, plastic-bodied 1989 Z1.

The video, which we've included below, is a good history lesson and a great chance to see a bunch of classic BMWs, spanning 84 years, all driven back to back within the safe confines of a racetrack. When you have a spare 20 minutes, go ahead and take some time to watch it.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Love the looks and sound of the classic roadsters. I hate it when these journalist sit on the hood or lean on the car in their jeans as they talk.
      • 1 Year Ago
      That 507 makes me tingle. It is my opinion that car design peaked about 1960, and that's coming from a teenager at University, not some nostalgic old man.
      • 1 Year Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      where┬┤s the Z3 ?
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's a shame about the 507. It was the brainchild of US importer Max Hoffman, who wanted a $5,000 sports car to sell alongside the 501 and 502. But, production costs doubled the selling price, killing the market for it. Only 252 were made over three years, and it almost sank BMW.
      THE 507
      • 1 Year Ago
      Given that there were over 275,000 Z3 Roadsters produced worldwide, you'd think these people would include that car. The fact that it wasn't included is nothing less than ridiculous and reduces this "historical overview" to something much less. Yes, I enjoyed seeing all the great icon BMW roadsters from over the years, but I could have done without the current car. This was not well done.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @THE 507
        The Z4 is the new Z3. It's a part of BMW's strategy to rearrange the nomenclature of the models with odd numbers being sedans while even numbers are coupes and convertibles.
          • 1 Year Ago
          Victor, while you are correct that the Z4 is the new Z3, the two cars are completely different. Not to mention the fact that the previous Z4 is very different from the newest Z4.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Z4 is very handsome, but the 507 is gorgeous.
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