From Opels to BMWs: the history of AC Schnitzer

1936 – Josef Schnitzer

The mechanic Josef Schnitzer decided to start his own business in 1936 – he opened a repair shop for Opel cars and also set up a small driving school in the shop. In order to increase the profitability of the business, a gas station soon appears near the workshop.

1945 – The business of the three brothers

Because business was going well, Josef opened his own Ford car and truck dealership in 1939, which, for obvious reasons, did not last long. Schnitzer survived the war, but alas, not for long – in 1945 he was involved in a fatal accident near the Zolder highway, leaving his two sons, Josef Jr. and Herbert, fatherless.

1966 – German Championship

While Josef Schnitzer was more interested in motorsports, his brother was more interested in production cars and their sales, so in 1964 Herbert Schnitzer became an official BMW dealer. At the same time, Josef begins to compete in the German Touring Car Championship. He finished second in the 1965 season and in 1966, in the new BMW 1800 TI/SA, he became German champion.

1972 – first tuning package

Funnily enough, the first tuning package from Schnitzer came even before AC Schnitzer was registered. “Under the knife” went the BMW 3.0 CSL, which Schnitzer used in various championships until 1978. Drivers such as Vittorio Brambilla and Dieter Kvester drove Schnitzer CSLs, and in 1976 a modified Schnitzer 3.5 CSL won the Nürburgring 1000 km race.

1978 – the year of joy and tears

But already in 1978, the BMW 320 Turbo, equipped with the same engine as the 2002 (1.4 liter, 400 hp), was at the start of the Touring Car Championship. The goal was finally achieved – Harald Ertl at the wheel of the three became champion. On this occasion, a limited edition civilian BMW 323i Turbo (pictured) was produced, whose six-cylinder engine was fitted with a turbocharger. The successful motorsport year was overshadowed by the death of Josef Junior, who died in an accident.

1987 – AC Schnitzer

On January 1, 1987 in Aachen (where Team Schnitzer was based) Herbert Schnitzer signs a contract with Kohl GmbH, thus opening his tuning studio AC Schnitzer. The prefix AC appeared due to the letter index, which goes on the license plates of cars from Aachen. And already at the Frankfurt Motor Show of that year, the first car of the new company was presented – ACS7 based on BMW 735i.

1996 – new home
In 1992, the company temporarily changed the street address and moved to Debierstrasse, only to return in 1996 to Neuenofstrasse 160 (pictured), where the company’s office is located right next to the headquarters of Kohl GmbH.

2001 – Almost X3

Along with BMW’s first non-military SUV, the X5, AC Schnitzer contributed to the Bavarian company’s off-road history by introducing the X-Road all-terrain utility vehicle. The car was made as a single copy and, in addition to increased ground clearance and plastic body, offered a four-wheel drive transmission.

2005 – BMW’s Fastest

The 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show was the site of the presentation of the AC Schnitzer Tension, based on the BMW M6 Coupe. A few weeks after the motor show, the bright yellow coupe will show an average speed of 331.78 km/h at the Nardo track – making it officially the fastest BMW car at the end of 2005.

2009 – Tune it! Safe!

In 2009, AC Schnitzer joins the Tune it! Safe! which encourages the use of only licensed tuning components. The program included the AC Schnitzer ACS1 2.3d Polizei equipped with a chipped turbodiesel.

2015 Speed M

In 2015, the AC Schnitzer-prepared M4 passed the small Hockenheim ring in 1 minute 9 seconds and 2 tenths, becoming one of the fastest cars at that track. By comparison, the Pagani Zonda F was 1:10.8 and the Porsche 911 Turbo S was 1:10.9. In the same year, the BMW i8 dodger was introduced. What to expect from AC Schnitzer in 2017? We will find out in Frankfurt next autumn.

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