The propellers of BMW ag powered up a century ago, and the company has been flying high ever since. Here are 15 waypoints on its 100- year flight path to automotive greatness.
1. WE HAVE TAKE-OFF
In 1916, Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) took wing when Bayerische Flugzeugwerke succeeded aircraft manufacturer Gustav- Otto-Flugmaschinenfabrik and opened its office in Munich. The firm set up new production facilities the following year.
2. BLUE AND WHITE
In 1917, BMW’s brand logo took shape, with a stylised propeller in the Bavarian national colours of blue and white. But it would be more than a decade before the distinctive logo appeared for the first time in advertising.
3. ZENO THE HERO
In 1919, test pilot Zeno Diemer flew a DFW F 37/III to a world record altitude of 9760m, where a modern Lufthansa airliner might be cruising today. Diemer’s flight, in an open cockpit exposed to extreme cold and low oxygen levels, was propelled by a 230bhp BMW IV aero engine.
4. 32 IN ’23
In 1923, BMW displayed the R32 in the German capital of Berlin. It’s the first motorbike produced under the BMW name, with a horizontally opposed four-stroke twin-cylinder motor.
5. VERY FIRST BIMMER
In 1932, BMW built its first in-house automobile, the 3/20 PS, which came with a newly developed 4-cylinder engine and a two-door all-steel body. It succeeded the Dixi 3/15, an Austin built under licence since 1929.
6. KIDNEY FOUNDATION
In 1933, BMW’s signature kidney-shaped radiator grille made its debut on the 303. It was also the firm’s first 6-cylinder car.
7. EIGHT PLUS 502
In 1954, the first all-alloy V8 engine to ever power a mass-produced car cranked to life in the BMW 502 at the Geneva Motor Show. The 8-cylinder was a 2.6-litre with just 100bhp
8. 50TH BIRTHDAY PRESENT
In 1966, the 50-year-old company introduced the BMW 1600, a two-door notchback that evolved into the 02 series, which became the early epitome of The Ultimate Driving Machine.
9. TECH SUPPORT
In 1972, BMW provided a pure electric car, the 1602 Elektro, as a support vehicle for the Munich Olympics’ marathon. It had a 32kW Bosch electric motor, a stack of twelve 12- volt Varta batteries and no inkling of the future i3.
10. THE THREE TAKES ROOT
In 1975, the first-generation 3 Series, codenamed E21, made its international debut. The model would remain steadfast as BMW’s bedrock of Teutonic design and engineering.
11. STILL THE ONE
In 1978, the M1 was launched. The Giugiaro-designed mid-engined 3-litre coupe was a racecar for the road that showcased the expertise of BMW Motorsport GmbH.
12. M MAGIC
In 1993, after 21 years in the business, BMW Motorsport GmbH shortened its name to BMW M GmbH and sharpened its focus on making BMW cars even sportier.
13. REBIRTH OF MINI
In 2001, the first new-age MINI rolled off the assembly line in Oxford, the UK.
14. THE FLYING LADY FLIES HIGHER
In 2003, the Phantom limousine glided onto the road, heralding the new era of Rolls- Royce Motor Cars as the BMW Group’s super-luxury marque, based in Goodwood.
15. INITIATION OF BMW i
In 2011, the BMW i sub-brand was presented as the automaker’s groundbreaking next step in eco-friendly personal transport, which includes both battery-powered vehicles and innovative mobility services. Two years later, the BMW i3 hit the streets as the world’s first premium electric car.