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BMW, acronym of Bayerische Motoren-Werke (Bavarian motor works), is a German company and manufacturer of quality automobiles and motorcycles .

Table of contents

History before WW2

The BMW logo is a circle divided into four quadrants[?] of alternating white and light blue colour. This is a stylised representation of an aircraft propeller -- the company was originally an aircraft engine manufacturer, founded by Karl Friedrich Rapp[?] in October 1913 in the Milbertshofen district of Munich. The location was chosen to be close to the Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik site.

In 1916 the company secured a contract to build V12 engines for Austria-Hungary. Needing extra finance, Rapp gained the support of Camillo Castiglioni and Max Friz, the company was reconstituted as the Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH. Over-expansion caused difficulties, Rapp left and the company was taken over by the Austrian industrialist Franz Josef Popp[?] in 1917, and named BMW AG from 1918.

In 1927 the tiny Dixi[?], an Austin Seven[?] produced under license, began production in Eisenach. BMW bought the company the following year, and this became the company's first car, the BMW 3/15[?]. By 1933 BMW were producing cars that could be called truly theirs, offering steadily more advanced 6-cylinder sports and saloon cars. The pre-war cars culminated in the beautiful 327[?] saloon and 328 roadster[?], fast 2-litre cars, both very advanced for their time.


BMW was a major supplier of engines to the Luftwaffe and of engines and vechicles, especially motorcyles, to the Wehrmacht. The aero-engines included the 801, one of the most powerful available. Over 30,000 were manufactured up to 1945. BMW also researched jet engines, producing the BMW 003, and rocket based weapons.

The BMW works were heavily bombed towards the end of the war. Of its sites, those in eastern Germany (Eisenach, Dürrerhof, Basdorf and Zühlsdorf) were seized by the Soviets. The factory in Munich was largely destroyed.

Aftermath of WW2

After the war the Munich factory took some time to restart production in any volume. BMW was banned from manufacturing for three years by the Allies and did not produce a car model until 1952.

In the east, the company's factory at Eisenach was taken over by the state-owned Awtowelo[?] group. That company offered "BMW"s for sale until 1951, when the Bavarian company prevented use of the trademarks: the name, the logo and the "double-kidney" radiator grille[?].

The cars were then branded EMW[?] (Eisenacher Motoren Werke), production continuing until 1955.

In the west, the BAC, Bristol Aeroplane Company, inspected the factory, and returned to England with plans for the 326, 327 and 328 models. These plans, which became official war reparations, along with BMW engineer Fritz Fiedler[?] allowed the newly formed Bristol Cars to produce a new, high-quality sports saloon, the 400[?] by 1947, a car so similar to the BMW 327 that it even kept the famous BMW grille.

Post-war history

needs to be written



  • 507 - a classic 1950s speedster
  • 2002 - acknowledged as the first modern sports sedan
  • 2000
  • 2500-3.3 saloon
  • 2800CSi, 3.0 CSL etc.
  • M1 - a 1970s mid-engine sports car, designed in conjunction with Lamborghini


  • 3-series - the successor to the 2002; a compact high-performance sedan, now in its 4th generation.
  • 5-series - a midsize sports/luxury sedan
  • 6-series - a classic touring coupe (out of production)
  • 7-series - a full-size luxury car, competing against the Mercedes S-Class
  • 8-series - a fast, high-technology coupe (out of production)

Sports Cars/M-Series

  • M3 - Initially a race-ready version of the 3-series, this model has evolved into a maximum-power, maximum-price touring car.
  • M5 - A heavy-duty, high-speed luxury car

  • Z1 - A 1980s 2-seater with innovative modular construction
  • Z3 coupé - a compact 2-seater sports car
  • MZ3 coupé - a compact 2-seater sports car with high-power engine
  • Z4 - successor to the Z3; a larger, more advanced, and more radically designed sports car.

All-Wheel Drive

  • X5 - BMW's first SUV, this vehicle has all the dynamic qualities expected of a BMW, and set new expections for SUV design.
  • X3 - (coming 2004) A hybrid wagon/SUV, based on the 3-series wagon.

Related companies

  • Isetta[?]
  • Glas[?]
  • Rolls-Royce - currently owned by BMW
  • Rover[?] - briefly owned by BMW, which retained the Mini after selling off the rest of the company.
  • Land Rover - sold to Ford; the current Range Rover was developed with assistance from BMW.
  • Mini - a tiny little hatchback; inspired by the 1960s Mini, which was the British equivalent of the Beetle.

Motor Sport

needs to be written

BMW Motorcycles

BMW motorcycles were first produced in 1923 and had an unusual "boxer twin" engine, with two air-cooled cylinders sticking out on opposite sides of the machine.

Final drive was by shaft.

Essentially, the same basic design is still manufactured by the company today.

External links

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