This Vintage BMW Promo Vid Is Yuppie Heaven

Come with me, and you’ll be… in a world of pure Tennis White.

byBen Keeshin|
History photo

The music is Kraftwerk-lite. The boats are powerful, and paired. The graphics are what you’d find at a rural movie theater during the “Please, No Talking” roll. The glass orbs are… present.

The year? 1984, on the grand occasion of the introduction of the new BMW 3 Series to the North American market. All the fanfare seems prescient, as if BMW NA knew that its trusty, sporty and austere 3 Series would become an icon of the decade. Sit back, crack open a Tab and enjoy the boisterous, Bull Market energy of ‘84 without the substance abuse habit or the haircut.

For all the glitz and South Beach-style glamour in this clip—helicopters, swimming pools, a woman whose bikini bottoms are cut so high they brush her ribcage—the internal-codename E30 would come to resonate strongest with one of the decade’s most strenuously understated classes: the Preppies.

To them, the car’s conservative looks were an asset. The badge was enough; everyone knew it was expensive. The compact form and tight suspension oozed Euro chic—remember that zany semester in Florence, Jack? Foremost, the build quality was an aphrodisiac. It meant the car could take the abuse of squash rackets, heavy cases of Seagram’s and the hairiest Golden Retrievers before becoming, in the early to mid-Nineties, a hand-me-down to a sandy-haired daughter at Choate.

Who would have thought that an icon of the Cardigan Classes would one day become this?