History: BMW ///M logo colors explained

Interesting | April 13th, 2009 by 27

Since we just posted some bits from BMW’s history, we decided to stay on the topic and talk about the ///M logo, the three stripes …

History: BMW ///M logo colors explained

Since we just posted some bits from BMW’s history, we decided to stay on the topic and talk about the ///M logo, the three stripes that make M branded cars even more recognizable. So, let’s see what we can learn about the “M” today.

The first Red stripe represented Texaco, the famous American oil retail brand, who had partnered with BMW during the early days of M racing. Blue represented BMW and Bavarian region. The purple was used to represent the partnership and to allow for a nice transition between the two colors, blending as some may call it.

Once the BMW/Texaco partnership ended, BMW had to buyout Texaco for the rights to the red.

For those of you that are in the imaging or graphics field, here is something that I dug out, the color names and codes used in the ///M stripes:

Blue — Pantone Process Blue
Purple — Pantone 268
Red — Pantone Warm Red

blue violett GLASURIT-BMW 4000
light blue GLASURIT-BMW 5002

Blue — 0 138 201 (Hex: 008AC9)
Purple — 43 17 90 (Hex: 2B115A)
Red — 241 26 34 (Hex: F11A22)

Pantone = color process (order) used by printing shops to define colors.

Paint = in this case it is refering to a GLASURIT paint code. Or a specific mix of auto paints.

RGB = Red, Green, Blue. The same process your computer monitor or TV uses to make colors.

Stay tuned for our next BMW history lesson!

Thanks to Automarket for the inspiration!

  • jkp

    I remember hearing someone say that the red was for Castrol. Thx for the clarification!

    • Jason

      yeah I heard that too. It’s kinda sad that BMW had to pay money just to use the red color…although it was probably a good investment since everyone can recognize the M badge. I do wish they’d make the cars more reliable, I had to use my subscription way too much for my E46.

  • Frederico Silva

    This is better than my history class -.-, cause we learn something, and heven better, we learn about our favorite auto brand, awesome, Thanks Horatiu ;)

  • bunker

    Always wondered about this. Many thanks, Horatiu!

  • Malcolm

    That is pretty awesome! I never knew this about the colors. All this time I have owned an M3 and never really gave it much thought. Great post Horatiu!!

  • Joe

    Thanks chief. I love this blog.

  • Sean

    The color red represents BMW’s racing heritage, not sure about Texaco.

  • Alan

    post sources where you got this information. i’ve never seen texaco listed as the source for red except for speculation on the web. there is plenty of substantiated opinion that it is for castrol, which has extensive history with BM, and was repeated by Roundel recently. Look at the front of the “flying” Hans Stuck CSL.

  • jon H

    very interesting horatiu

  • TK


  • Jp Albano

    I am pretty sure its Castrol and NOT Texaco.

  • Damien

    Have to toss my hat in the ring and state I also was told it was Castrol. Castrol and BMW have a long standing “partnership”?

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  • gar

    you wouldnt happen to know where I might find a copy of the BMW M logo?

  • jonathan

    red is henna red. henna red is the same red as the red in the castrol label. a formed partnership during the formation of the m mortorsport division. light blue is bavarian blue from the free tate flag of bavaria.when both mixed together you bet lemans blue! nice riddle it’s true.

    • smokeypeacock

      So what is the pantone ref of Lemans Blue..

  • BavarianStrasse

    Thanks for the RGB codes. I was using Google searching for them to make a custom decal for my BMW motorcycle.

  • Robert Monoson

    Quoting from the “Uniquely BMW” book given to all ///M OWNERS. (Also available at BMW dealerships)… The explanation [above] of the origin’s of the colors in the ///M badge are not entirely accurate.

    “…When a driving enthusiast sees the M badge on the trunk lid of a passing BMW, they immediately recognize it as one of the finest – and fastest – automobiles in the world. Why the blue/purple/red M emblem? Because Motorsport is BMW’s DNA and these colors are its “amino acids,” if you will. The left color, Bavarian blue, is BMW’s heritage color. The right color, red, expresses our racing pedigree. Combine them and they form the middle M color – purple…”

  • Rudy

    I too must say that it is next to impossible that Texaco was a joint member of BMW Motorsport before it started in ’72. I’ll wager bets on your sources not being very credible… it makes you wonder how legit the rest of these posts on this blog are…!

  • dougM3

    It’s definitely Castrol and not Texaco.

  • Paul Kane

    Thanks for the insight!

  • Kevin Ingalls

    Anyone looking for CMYK for printing, as I was… these are the values Adobe Illustrator suggests for Coated PMS color equivalents

    Pantone Process Blue = CMYK 100,35,7,0
    Pantone 268 = 81,100,12,2
    Pantone Warm Red = 0,87,80,0