BMW 321 1938-1941





Body options


The car was available both as a two-door sedan and as a two-door cabriolet. In addition, BMW offered a chassis-only option suitable for a coach-built body.


Engine and transmission


The 1971 cc straight 6 M78 engine was based on the engine in the BMW 326 with a claimed power output of 45 bhp (34 kW) and maximum speed of 71 mph (114 km/h). The four-speed manual gear box was also the one already seen on the 326.


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BMW 321


The BMW 321 is a compact six-cylinder sedan produced by the Bavarian firm between 1938 and 1941. After 1945, production resumed at the Eisenach plant: 321s were built again between approximately 1945 and 1950, probably in greater numbers than before the war.

Manufacturer  Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)

Sowjetische AG Maschinenbau Awtowelo

Production  1938–1941, 7,851 built

1945 - 1950, 8,996 built

Predecessor  BMW 320

Successor  BMW New Class

Body style  2-door saloon

2-door cabriolet

Layout  FR layout

Engine  1,971 cc (120.3 cu in) OHV straight-6

Transmission  4-speed manual[1]

Wheelbase  2,750 mm (108 in)

Length  4,500 mm (180 in)

Width  1,540 mm (61 in)

Height  1,580 mm (62 in)

Curb weight  1,000 kg (2,200 lb)

(measurements approximate)

Related  BMW 326

BMW 320

BMW 340

Commercial Two years after the introduction of the 321, in 1941, automobile production at the Eisenach plant was suspended in favour of war production. By then, 3,814 had been built. In 1945, Eisenach was occupied by American forces, but by then it had already been agreed between the allies that the whole of Thuringen would fall within the Soviet occupation zone: transfer of the region to the Soviets took place in July 1945. It seemed likely that BMW’s manufacturing facility would be crated up and taken by rail to the Soviet Union as part of the substantial post war reparations package. In the meantime, surviving workers returning from the war recommenced automobile production, on a very small scale, using prewar designs. Albert Seidler, the man in charge of Eisenach motor bike production, demonstrated the 321 to Marshall Zhukov and secured from him an order for five new cars. The Russians were evidently impressed, and the plant passed under the control of “Sowjetische AG Maschinenbau Awtowelo”, a Soviet directed holding company focused on vehicle production. A further 8,996 BMW 321s are thought to have been built between 1945 and 1950. Most appear to have remained to the east of the iron curtain, many being taken to the Soviet Union as part of a reparations package in respect of the Second World War. Evidence also exists for exports to the west: the car was advertised in Switzerland in 1949 with a retail price of CHF 10,300.


The launch


The 321 was introduced during the second half of 1938 as a successor to the BMW 320. It sat on a shortened version of the BMW 326 chassis. The 321 was similar to the 320, though it featured a few changes including a modified from bumper / fender. The new model also incorporated suspension changes.


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