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Based in the heart of the European stock market flourish of the Seventies and Eighties, Rainer Buchmann and his b+b Auto-Exclusiv-Service was perfectly placed to cash-in on the growing number of sports car owners looking for something that little bit different. Frankfurt was bustling with new millionaires - and Buchmann's garage was doing superb business.

b+b Auto-Exclusiv-Service

Buchmann was a small company based in Frankfurt, Germany. The company, spearheaded by Rainer Buchmann, an accomplished mechanic, specialised in enhancing performance automobiles, such as Porsche's 911, 928 and 924, and the Mercedes S-Class. Buchmann launched the company with his brother, Dieter, giving the b+b tag. Tuning programmes were also released for more run-of-the-mill cars, such as the Volkswagen Golf and Polo, and Volvo's 240 Estate car.

The company was launched in the mid-1970s, when demand for modified luxury cars was at its highest. As Buchmann found, collectors, enthusiasts and normal customers were willing to pay for a series of special tweaks to make their car stand out from the norm. Buchmann, with his 'b+b Auto Exclusiv Service', traded on Germanic efficiency and teutonic build quality to deliver some truly breathtaking motorcars. Buchmann delivered many firsts for the car modification world - he, and his highly trained team of mechanics and bodywork specialists, could mould together 'hybrids', taking styling cues from a number of different models and bringing them together into the one, and could place sophisticated electronics into the tight confines of sports cars - for example, colour televisions, CB radios, gold plated switchgear, stereos with graphic equalisers and even fridges into their cars.

Buchmann and his mechanics were forward-thinking and ambitious - and this shines through with some of their projects. For example, a special, based on the 1978 Mercedes W-126 S-Class featured an electrically folding steel roof - a first for the modern era. The bodyworkers pioneered the use of new, as-yet-untested plastics, for areas such as bumpers, and new paint finishes to create some stunning (and equally, some dreadful) versions of normal cars. The company became a byword for interior fittings, and the first 'real' Buchmann Porsche, called the (deep breath) b+b Porsche 911/30/28 Targa, featured the televisions and stereos which had become the norm, but also a refrigerated champagne cooler fitted under liftable gold metallic leather rear seats.

Of course, as of many tuner cars of this era, a few examples stretch the limits of taste, but still serve as a landmark of a time of pioneering engineers, set free by large budgets and barrier-free design briefs.

Buchmann's Innovations

Rainer Buchmann liked to think of his car company as a 'think tank for the automobile industry' rather than a manufacturer in its own right. As such, the company did not soley focus on performance-based upgrades, like its German rivals Gemballa and RUF. A technological advance was the DINFOS system, an acronym for DIgital INFOrmation System, which was developed by the electronic-trained Buchmann. The DINFOS cars featured digital dashboards, along with an integrated driver interface. In many respects, BMW's love-it-or-hate-it 'iDrive' system is a direct descendant of DINFOS. However, when released, few car companies were interested in the technology - the biggest taker was Volkswagen, who created 50 Polos with the system, selling them as special editions. Buchmann also created the first truly functional steering wheel mounted controls. In a collaboration with BMW, b+b designed a concept motorcycle called the Futuro.

Buchmann's team consisted of Eberhard Schulz, design chief, formerly of Porsche. Schulz did the bulk of the designs, including the interiors, but occasionally hired students to produce one-offs, like the British Turbo-Targa. The panel-beater and bodywork specialist was Manuel Melero, and the in car entertainment, electronics and creature comforts which festooned each b+b car were developed by both Buchmann and Peter Roggendorf. At the boom times of the company, between 1981 and 1986, Buchmann employed up to 45 employees, working in design, electronics, bodywork and interiors and marketing departments.

The Buchmann story ended in 1986 with a fall-out with Volkswagen and the oil crisis, which ended the market for high-performance cars. However, Buchmann had created up to 100 cars per year for customers whose money was never a problem, and the small outfit from Frankfurt left a long-lasting mark on the global automobile industry.


See Also

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Buchmann 911 Turbo Targa · Buchmann 911/30/28 Targa · Buchmann 928 Targa · Buchmann 924 · Buchmann 600 Pullman

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Rainier Buchmann [http:// Corporate website] independent
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