This was definitely cool in the 1980s.
Back in the 1980s BMW was riding high. Its cars were considered great for driving plus they were status symbols for Baby Boomers who were climbing the corporate ladder. That kind of upward social and economic mobility is encapsulated in the commercial below for the E30 or the second generation of the BMW 3 Series. Everything about the TV spot is 1980s cool, right down to the music and cinematography.
This commercial apparently aired back in 1984 and is a treasure trove of nostalgia. Starting off by referencing the company’s motorsports heritage is always a good move. It reminds customers that what you’re selling is exciting and cutting-edge. Then it switches to speedboats, which we’re going to guess have BMW marine engines, and that’s loosely related to the E30. After that it’s some action shots of guys riding BMW motorcycles. Really, this ad starts to turn into a BMW ego fest quickly, but in a cool sort of way.
We’re treated to cutting-edge computer graphics for the time, kids. For those who don’t remember, these blocky representations of fuel injectors, transmissions, and pistons looked mesmerizing to people who thought playing Space Invaders and Pac Man was also on the forefront of innovation. Yes, the BMW E30 was a pioneering vehicle for its time, only without sapping the fun out of driving.
By far the best parts of this long advertisement is when the BMW 3 Series is shown at what appears to be a beachside estate. A woman is swimming, water is running over the car’s hood. We see an action shot of those neat headlight wipers. Are these a symbol of something? Nobody truly knows, but it was supposed to make you want a Bimmer badly.
Later, the same woman is driving the E30 convertible through some really weird landscapes. It’s like a long perfume ad which is supposed to make you feel enchanted but actually only leaves you confused. Still, you pretend to understand because you think everyone else does.
You do get to see a BMW M3 doing its stuff on an open road. That part is great. Then we’re back to inexplicable landscapes and a 325e, or a woman in white kind of posing around a 325i. Perhaps the greatest is the guy driving an E30 through snowy mountain terrain. There’s nothing more exciting than navigating a winter wonderland using a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.