Brief History of BMW

Categories: BmwHistory

BMW began making its mark on history almost 90 years ago. Aircraft engines were the first thing to be produced followed by bikes and then cars – these vehicles also have been setting milestones in the area of motorsport from the very start. We can establish BMW roots back well over 100 years, to December 3, 1896. That date marked the formation of Wartburg works in Eisenach, the BMW manufacturing center for all cars made from 1928 to 1940.

From that site and Wartburg’s numerous alliance before being sold to BMW in 1928 stretched activites as diverse as saucepan manufactured, powered mountain bikes, and the brake company.

The car-construction tale of the Eisenach arm is the subject of a sub-sequent chapter. ( Airborne Excellence- page 5) However, basics of the heartland Munich-based company arrived in 1916 when the two airplane-engine manufacturing workshop Gustav Rau GmbH and Rapp Motorenwerken GmbH) were subject to takeovers and closures that resulted in the March 7, 1916 registration of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (BFW).

Its purpose as stated in the Munich Register of Companies “the manufacture and commercial distribution of airplanes and any related machinery, equipment and other objects, and further, in the pursuit of this purpose, the founding of other enterprises in any legally permissible form, or participation therein, and also the running of companies of any sort”.

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When Franz-Joseph Popp took over Karl Rapp as the new managing director on 5 October of 1917, he register the company as the Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH.

At the same time Poppo registered the company’s trademark, which still remains today- the stylized whirl of a rotating propeller surmounted by the letters BMW.

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(Achievements in White and Blue BMW in Retrospect- page 8) In 1917, BMW’s first aircraft engine was produced, the 6 cylinder Type IIIa. In 1919 using an aircraft powered by its successor, the Type IV, Franz Zeno Diemer set an altitude record of 9,760 metres.

After WW1 BMW turned all kinds of activities, including shoe-making, to survive, But Popp and Friz were engineers, first and foremost, and there was no doubt that BMW would return to aero engine manufacture. (Motorcycle Marvels- Chapter2). In 1923 they enter the motorcycle production as a result. The motorcycle, the R 32 produced 8. 5 horsepower at 3300rpm from its flat-twin engine.

The 2-cylinder 494cc motorcycle could reach a top speed of 59mph. 090 of them were manufactured during its three year life span. It was 1928 that made history in terms of the BMW car. BMW buys the Eisenach automobile plant, where the Austin Seven was successfully produced under the name “Dixi 3/15 PS”. Later it rebadged them to DA2. Which further went on to become a BMW – going on sale in 1929 as the BMW 3/15 PS DA 2 with a range of different body shells. A small car with a lot of appeal, its popularity helped the company to survive the lean years of the Depression.

By 1932 BMW’s first “real” car (AM 4) went into production, this model was the successor of the Dixi and the first production car to be built totally in house by BMW. The model had a 50 mph top speed, 4 cylinder engine with suspension valves and double driving camshafts. In 1936 a sporting legend was born when the BMW 328 went on to win at the nuburging, which was basically the fastest standard-production 2-liter sports car. It went on to win over 120 other race between 1936 and 1940. BMW became a priority target during World War 2 and reaped a terrible reward for its famous aero engine and military prowess. The BMW factory at Munich was totally devastated after the War. The first post war model, the V8 equipped 501 luxury sedan produced in 1951 was a poor production choice for a country that was also devastated by the war. Demand was low and the 501 did not even com e close to meeting BMW’s expectations.

So in a tightrope act between two extremes, to prevent the company bleeding to death at the top end of the automobile market, BMW’s policy was to introduce mini cars at the other end of the market. The BMW Isetta finally won the hearts of the public. Just 2. 29 m long, the company obtains the licence to build the motocoupe from ISO in Italy. Powered by a 12 or 13 hp BMW motorcycle engine. Over 160,000 people bought an Isetta in the Fifties, making it the best-selling BMW of the decade and a symbol for the boom years after the war.

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Brief History of BMW. (2017, Feb 22). Retrieved from

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