The history of the automobile now spans more than 115 years, and there's a lot that has happened throughout that time. There have been companies that have come and gone and others who have merged with others to become something new. It's an industry that is and has always had peaks, valleys, shifts, and trend changes throughout history. For those companies that have stood the test of time, they've created histories that should be celebrated and respected. One of the ways that these companies are celebrated is through the loyalty that drivers show for their brands and automobiles.
One of the automakers who've stood that test of time is BMW or, for those who don't know, that stands for "Bavarian Motor Works." They've carved out a place for themselves in the auto industry that's synonymous with German luxury. Their cars are represented in 140 countries worldwide, and they set a stand of luxury for other makers to meet and try to exceed.
They've been a big part of vehicular history the world over. It includes cars, motorcycles, and airplanes. They've left their mark in a lot of ways for the entirety of their history. Because they've been a part of so many things, there are some great things that this company has done that more people should know. Here are 20 facts about BMW that a lot of their drivers, fans, employees, and car enthusiasts may not know about them.
20 The Logo
A company logo is one of the things that are the most recognizable when it comes to them and their brand. The emblem for BMW is one of those types of logos, as it's been all but unchanged for over 100 years. Many people have believed that the emblem was derived from their history in the aeronautics industry, but www.bmwgroup.com helps to clarify this.
The colors of the logo are the colors of the Bavarian state of Germany.
It was advertised as a propeller as a marketing stunt, but this wasn't the reason that it was created in the way that it was. It was all about where BMW comes from and their geographical roots.
19 The First BMW Car
As said before, BMW had to branch into cars post-World War I, which brought them to the purchase of Automobilwerk Eisenach in 1928. This purchase brought with it the right to produce this company's car, the Dixi. Once BMW bought them out, this car was marketed as the "BMW Dixi" and was produced from 1928-1931. Mydriftfun.com explains that in order to give the car a BMW feel, the name was changed in 1929 to the "BMW 3/15 DA 2." It was based on a chassis that was made by English Austin, and multiple companies, including Datsun and Bantam, were licensed to use this chassis.
18 The Fastest Motorcycle in the World
In 1937, BMW set the motorcycle world ablaze with this bike. Financialexpress.com describes how this motorcycle was a 4-stroke 495cc machine that was supercharged. Yes, supercharged.
It reached a top speed of 173 miles per hour, and it set a world record that would stand unchallenged for 11 years.
It was a bike that had a strange aerodynamic body that encapsulated the driver and the machine. The rider also wore an aerodynamically designed helmet. It was a weird-looking machine for its time, and its capabilities were also unheard of for a motorcycle of that era.
17 Forefront of Aerodynamics
Thrillist.com refers to Wunibald Kamm as the "Father of German Aerodynamics." His designs were the first of their kind in terms of designs for cars that help to make them faster. BMW's appreciation for his work and dedication is shown in the 1940 BMW coupe being named after him and the designs that were created for this car, the 328 Kamm Coupe. These innovations were also used in later generations as inspirations for cars like the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe in the '60s, Corvettes, and the Prius. Yes, even the Prius was made with aerodynamics considered. He is, arguably, a forefather for modern aerodynamics.
16 Founded in 1916
BMW loans its beginnings to both Gustav Otto and Karl Rapp. They were owners of two different companies that ended up coming together to be BMW as we know it today. The Flugmaschinenfabrik Gustav Otto company became Bayerische Flugzeug-Werk (BFW) in 1916, and the Rapp Motorenwerke company became Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) in 1917. In 1922, BMW transferred the company, including the brand and name, to BFW, and it officially set the stage for BMW as we know it. BMW lends its beginnings to the beginning of BFW on March 7, 1916. Needless to say, World War I-era Europe was a difficult time, and www.bmwgroup.com lends a great explanation for the situation.
15 Their Work In Aeronautics
Before multiple companies came together to create BMW, they each were active in building airplane engines. After they became BMW as we know it, that tradition continued. There was a time when Germany, France, and England were in a silent battle to be the top Air Force in pre World War II Europe. www.pbs.org discusses how BMW came to build the engines for the German Air Force. The engines were originally built by Mercedes until BMW was able to create an engine that outperformed the original one. This new engine was the one that powered the early fighter jets of Germany.
14 The Treaty of Versailles
The website Thrillist.com points out that political action was the reason why BMW expanded into vehicles. The Treaty of Versailles was the treaty that ended World War I, and there were a lot of limiting stipulations imposed on Germany. This treaty forbade Germany from developing an Air Force and, as a result, they didn't need engines. Because of this, BMW realized that they needed to expand their products in order to remain in business and create profits. This is why they broke into the automobile market. Side note: Germany would later ignore these stipulation going into World War II, and BMW would lend their services.
13 BMW, Mini Cooper, Rolls-Royce
Financial times can be hard in the auto industry and for some, they're downright detrimental. It takes a lot of work and some luck, for a company to remain successful and relevant in a constantly fluctuating industry. There are a lot of times when companies merge together or are bought out in order to save themselves and their brands. The BMW Group is an example of one of the ways this is being represented in this new age. BMWGroup.com reveals that the German luxury brand is now the owner and producer of Mini Cooper and Rolls-Royce.
12 BMW Was Almost Mercedes
BMWGroup.com highlights how BMW almost became Mercedes back in 1959. The '50s were difficult financial times for Bavarian Motor Werks.
In 1959, Daimler Benz submitted a restructuring offer that would bring BMW under the Mercedes-Benz brand. However, the workforce and shareholders rejected the offer, and they decided to wait out the storm.
With the help of temporary government assistance, Herbert Quandt restructured management and pulled the company out the other side. He also took over as head of the company the following year, 1960. Not all companies who go through that type of situation are able to come out the other side and return to their prominence and success.
11 First Electric Car
We're living in a time where electric cars are becoming more and more popular. Some countries and their federal governments are even giving out tax credits to citizens who buy brand-new hybrid and electric vehicles. Businessinsider.com reveals that contrary to popular belief, this isn't a new development. BMW was working with electric vehicles as far back as 1972. The 1602e was fitted with 12 12-volt batteries, which weighed over 750 pounds. It was actually used to lead the pack of long-distance runners during the '72 Munich Olympics. Sadly, it was only able to go 37 miles on a charge.
10 "The Ultimate Driving Machine"
Along with an emblem, a company slogan is one of the most important ways for people all over the world to recognize your brand. The BMW slogan is no different. BMWstlye.tv has a great article discussing the creation of this slogan and the longevity of it as well. The slogan was derived in 1973 by Bob Lutz while he was working with Ammirati and Puris Advertising agency. They were working on a new campaign, and this was what was created. Bob Lutz had worked with Fiat before he was hired by BMW. Do the math: this slogan has been in use for 45 years.
9 BMW and Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol is one of the most well-known figures in the art of the 20th century, and he did work for BMW. BMW has, many times in their history, created an art-car depiction of some of their most famous cars. One of them was the M1 that was created in the 1970s as a supercar. According to Auto Week, in 1977, BMW requested that Warhol turn one of their M1 racecars into a work of art for commemoration purposes. He accepted the offer and did it in a way that only Warhol could. Most artist would work with a scale model of the car first, but not Warhol. He requested to work right on the car itself, and he did it by hand with a foam paintbrush. He also, with his finger, signed the car next to the exhaust.
8 The M1 Was Originally Supposed To Be A Lamborghini
BMWblog.com discusses how the idea of the M1 was originally conceived and that it was to be a major collaboration with Lamborghini, with Lamborghini taking the lead.
Unfortunately, in the late 1970s, Lamborghini was facing serious financial issues, which ended in bankruptcy. This would force BMW to cancel the contract with them.
BMW then contracted other companies to build the frame, body, and interior. BMW would then take the shell and put in the engine and the transmission of the car. There were only 430 of them made from 1977 to 1981, and only 40 of them were made specifically for the purposes of racing.
7 BMW and Formula 1
Racing is how many automakers prove their success and engineering capabilities, and BMW is no stranger to that. According to BMWblog.com, in 1982, they started out working as an engine supplier in Formula 1 racing. Their success was proven through multiple race wins and championships won on their engines. They'd remain in Formula 1 in this capacity until 2006, when they bought the Sauber F1 Team. However, despite all their efforts, they couldn't achieve the same success as an independent team that they did when they were an engine supplier. This caused them to pull out of the scene in 2009, and they haven't returned to it since.
6 The Kidney Grille
Every automaker has certain design features that are signature for their models and brands. For example, Ford has the horse emblem on their cars and the signature side vents that characterize their Mustangs. For BMW, one of those features is the kidney grille that people know to be BMW from a mile away. BMWblog.com tells how this grille first showed up in 1933 on the BMW 303, and it's been a staple ever since. Like the emblem, the slogan, and this grille, BMW celebrates its storied path, and they like to always keep a modern connection to this past.
5 Armored Cars
The state of society today requires people to pay closer attention to their safety and the safety of their families. Forbes.com talks about how BMW has a dedicated division for the armored cars that they produce. This division creates three different categories for 3 different risk categories: street crimes, organized crimes, and explosive devices. The cars produced in each category are able to defend against different types of weapons, including 44 magnum guns, automatic rifles, and bombs. There has been a market for them in Europe for quite some time, but that market is increasing in places like the United States.
4 Classic Replacement Parts
Any mechanic, car enthusiast, or restoration specialist will tell you that one of the hardest parts about restoring or maintaining a classic car is finding parts for them. BMW actively works to combat this problem. BMWGroup-classic.com is a section of the company site that serves these types of enthusiasts.
The company is still offering replacement parts for their classic cars that were produced from as far back as the pre-World War II era.
This provides BMW drivers a place to go to get those hard-to-find parts and for BMW to serve a purpose to all their loyal drivers, not just the newer ones. It's a smart business decision because even customers from very far back, even if they don't own a new BMW, are able to remain customers forever.
3 Spartanburg, South Carolina
Although an automaker may have headquarters in one area of the world, they're going to have a presence in a lot of other areas as well. BMW is a German-based company that has factories all over the world. One of their largest factories is located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. According to Autonews.com, this facility opened way back in 1994, where it started out producing 60,000 cars a year. It's the center of production for the X3, X4, X5, and X6 models. This facility has grown to the point that it's BMW's largest assembly plant in the world. It produces 750,000 cars a year, and 70% of those are exported to countries all over the world.
2 Airplane Interiors
BMW is known for their luxury cars and the beauty that they bring to the interior of a vehicle. Designboom.com has an article about the amazing interior design that BMW DesignWorksUSA is doing for first-class airline passengers. The above photo is a picture of a first-class cabin in a Singapore Airlines plane. Design Boom reports that the design is meant to bring in not only luxury but an ambiance as well. BMW uses their expertise in luxury to make it better for all first-class airline passengers. They're also working on train interiors as well to make them as comfortable and luxurious as a passenger could want.
1 BMW Headquarters Design
A company's world headquarters is a place that's meant to represent the company and is built to reflect that. BMW has their world headquarters located in Munich, Germany, and it's a statement of where BMW started. According to Bimmertips.com, their headquarters has been located in Munich for more than 4 decades, and it's designed to resemble a 4-cylinder motor. The main building is 4 cylindrical towers that stand next to each other in order to pay respect to the 4-cylinder engines that the company started out producing. The building was designed by architect Karl Schwanzer.