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Bdkee

1968 1600 6v or 12v Question

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Hi '02er's,

I've got a '68 1600 that I'm starting to restore. Here's some of the car's backstory to lead to my question. I bought it from the original owner's widow and it was purchased from Brandfon Motors in New Haven, Connecticut. The VIN is 1563514 which should put it somewhere between a March and April '68 build. In '99 the original 1600 motor was swapped for an '02 motor (#2366668) which I believe is from a '75. The car now has an alternator, 12v coil and 12v battery. Reading through the original owner's manual though it claims that the car had a 6v electrical system. The wiring all looks pretty original so I'm worried that it may still have the 6v system but had 12v parts added. From what I've read on the FAQ, early '68 is when BMW switched over from 6v to 12v so what should I check to verify which I've got / should have?

The car had been sitting for probably 2-3 years but it has certainly been driven a good bit since the '99 motor swap. The only electrical problem that I've encountered is a burned out ignition switch that I just replaced. It's working fine now but obviously I don't want to keep using it as it without being sure it is a true 12v car.

Thanks in advance!

Brian

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if you're concerns are the adequacy of the wire used in a 6v system, it is good for 12v as well...the wires for 6v are, in my experience sized larger than for a 12v system

if everything works, i'd just drive and enjoy the car

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If your fuse box in the the engine compartment on the driver's side inner fender has one row of fuses, you have a 6 volt system. If it has two rows of fuses, you have a 12 volt system.

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Well, there you go. I've learned my new 02 fact for the day. But we can at least say that if there are 12 fuse it is definitely a 12 volt system. Right?

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Esty's right; You're safe.

If all of the electronic components are 12V (starter, coil, wiper motor, cluster, etc.) then you are okay. The only worry would be feeding 12V to something that was designed for 6V, like a gauge, clock or coil.

As for the wiring, the 6V wiring (if it was indeed a factory 6V car) is actually better than 12V wiring. The load (watts) were the same for the end use (the starter still had to push with the same force as a 12V starter would), but the voltage was lower, which means that the amperage would need to be higher. Higher amperage means that you need thicker gauge wire in order not to melt it. So, the 6V wiring is thicker and stronger than 12V wiring.

That being said, a 12V system would use lighter, cheaper, thinner wiring, but would have to utilize more relays for the big stuff, light headlights, horns, heater fans and such.

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My 68 2002 with production date of May 17, 1968 has a 6 fuse 12 volt system, but then again you are talking about 1600s. I'm not sure of the exact cut-over, but one way might be to look at the back of the clock as it will say 6v or 12v, unless however it was swapped out too. If you have a 12v clock with production date of 68, then it was probably a 12v car. If you get under the covers and see lots of resistors added to things then that would be a sign too. I'm sure it's a PITA to change everything over, so for someone to do it all, well, without evidence of modification would be difficult. If it's working, drive it!

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6 volt 1600s wre equipped with a smaller battery tray which sits much lower, almost on the frame rail. Do you have this 6 volt battery tray ? The previous owner of my 67 1600 converted it to a 12 volt, but my car is still equipped with the smaller 6 volt battery tray which sits very low in the engine compartment. I have problems with finding 12 volt batteries which fit my smaller battery tray. I would never convert a 6 volt car to a 12 volt. The 6 volt system looks very simple and vintage. It matches the simplicity of the early cars. I'm thinking of re-equipping my 67 1600 with original electrical system and drivetrain.

Slavs

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they are all 12v. Previous "US spec" 1600s were pretty much the same as Euro spec cars except for gauges that spoke MPH and English; as such the VINs for Euro and US cars were intermixed. It wasn't until the beginning of 1968 model year production that Federal safety and emission specs decreed a separate VIN run for US cars. There may have been some leftover '67 1600s titled as '68s due to a late-in-the-year sales date, but they won't have the 156xxxx VIN.

Thus, any 1600 with a 156 or 157xxxx VIN (or 2002 with 166 or 167xxxx VIN) is a US spec car and has 12v electrics with a six fuse system. Twelve fuse cars began with the "modell 71" cars that hit the US market in April 1971.

cheers

mike

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6 volt 1600s wre equipped with a smaller battery tray which sits much lower, almost on the frame rail.

My October '67 1600-2 has the lower battery tray and 12 volts from the factory. I know of a Jan '67 car with 6 volts, so I guess the change over was somewhere in between!

Chers, Nick

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as noted by Vin # it is 12 volt, also it is 12 volt by design to meet federal 1968 regulations, you are missing the supplement for the owners manual which has the changes for 1968. Bmw used the old manuals with the supplement until the stock was depleated.

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Fantastic! Thanks everyone for the explanation. As my car has a '68 US VIN with the larger, higher battery tray I think I've got a confirmed 12volt system. Makes sense on the older run of manuals. The old girl is back on the road and running like a champ.

Thanks again.

Brian

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