Bayer K67

Car of the Day #89: 1967 Bayer K67

Bayer K67

Thanks to the early years of fiberglass and plastic development, you can't buy a new car today without thousands of pounds* of Very Important Plastic.

Plastic engine intakes, plastic interior components (especially "chrome"-wrapped plastic), synthetic seating materials, and a number of other components are now standard fit on vehicles sold around the world. 

We've come a long way with the use of composites, especially now that the Alfa Romeo 4C, BMW 'i' cars, and a few other, more exotic models, use a carbon fibre or composite-based chassis. Using composites in the structure of a vehicle presents unique challenges, not only with regards to outright strength but also in durability—the constant pounding our roads subject a car to will destroy just about any material short of good ol' steel.

For body panels, as Saturn and smart have shown, plastic isn't that bad. 

A vehicle’s structure is another matter entirely.

* For many modern vehicles, more than 50% of components are made from or in conjunction with plastic.

I was surprised, then, to learn that my favourite pain relief manufacturer, Bayer, had developed in 1967 not only a car with plastic bodywork but also with a plastic chassis. The engineering was done in partnership with BMW — meet the K67.

When I first wrote about it in a previous CotD run, a huge amount of information came from an internal Bayer video on the car that had been posted to its website…and that I can no longer find. 

It's a hugely impressive film, not only because it provides an unprecedented look at the birth of a plastic car, in 1967, but also because whoever shot the footage was quite good. (If you do track it down, please link it in the comments.)

Did I take screenshots 10 years ago? Yes. Do I still have them? Yes…

What else can I tell you? It was one of the very first vehicles ever made with a full plastic chassis. It was also one of the first with nearly everything inside and out made from the stuff; the battery, the headlight covers, and interior.

First shown at the Hanover Trade Fair in 1967, it was without a doubt the first serious attempt at an all-plastic car. 

There's an inline 4-cylinder BMW engine up front, which you’d have seen in a BMW 2000 TI or Coupé 2000 CS. From the factory footage, it looks quite quick and is even shown on the banking at Avus, Germany's legendary temple of speed.

The bodywork was designed by German industrial designer Hans Gugelot, often credited as the first designer to create furniture, stereos, and other fixtures as parts of a complete modular system. Assembled by Waggonfabrik Donauwörth, the prototype was tested in anger by Bayer and BMW engineers.

It was also reportedly shown in Chicago at the 1967 Design Engineering Show, and likely a number of other trade events. And a final detail? Check out those turn signal integrated into the side mirrors.

Unlike the Lamborghini Countach Evoluzione, destroyed to examine the effects of a crash test on a composite chassis, the Bayer K67 is still around today. Amazing.

Recent test drive on the K67! With English narration! Thanks, DW :)


Thank you to my supporting members: Ben B., Brad B., Chris G., Daniel G., Damian S., Daniel P., Drew M., Ingrid P., Karl D., Luis O., Michael J., Michael L., Michelle S., Mike B., Mike L., Mike M., Richard W., Sam G., Sam L., Wiley H.