In 1959, BMW introduced the 700, a rear-engined air-cooled economy car as BMW was close to bankruptcy, and the 700 may have saved the company.
It's monocoque chassis, 700cc 30hp flat-two engine, and ultimate simplicity made for a car that was both cheap and fun to drive. Weighing only 1350 pounds, the 700 was as nimble as it was economic.
The immediate success of the 700 prompted the development of a purpose-built race car. Some of BMW's most well-known engineers assembled a skunkworks 700RSs. It shares little of the original car, and is reminiscent of Porsche's 550 spyder: a rear-engined featherweight roadster.
The RS's exterior takes a radical departure from the 700 coupes and sedans; a hand-built aluminum body borrows its front end aesthetic and turn signals from the 507. The front windscreen is made from the production car's rear glass. The paneling is unique to the car, sharing a style with no BMW before it or since.
The body panel tubes have been drilled with holes to decrease weight. With the fuel tank topped off, the final weight of the RS is only 830 pounds.
Driven by Hans Stuck, Chassis #1 was campaigned to a title victory for the German, Italian, and Austrian hillclimb championships in 1960 and 1961. This was, in fact, the last time the "Bergkönig," or "King of the Mountains," as Stuck was known as, would become champion. Ending his famed and celebrated racing history on a high note, it was in this very car that Stuck hung up the helmet and ended his racing career.