BMW is old. Last year, in 2016, the Bavarian brand turned 100. While that doesn’t make it the oldest car company in the world, or even in Germany, it’s still quite old. It also has a pretty interesting history, one with several fascinating bullet points throughout. In this new video from The Telegraph, we take a brief look at the history of BMW, since its inception until now.
The famous Bavarian brand we currently know for developing high-performance cars and impressive technology actually started out life developing airplanes and motorcycles. It was very good at this and that’s actually where the blue and white roundel logo came from, as it represents an airplane propeller and the colors represent the Bavarian flag.
BMW didn’t develop its first automobile until 1928, where it built rebadged variants of the Austin Seven under license from Austin. There’s a famous photo of the dealership window all lit up at night with some BMW-badged Austin Sevens on the showroom floor that looks pretty cool.
Later on, the brand introduced the kidney grilles and started making inline-six engines. Probably the most famous BMW of this era was the original 1939 BMW 328, which won the Mille Miglia back in the day.
But during WWII, BMW’s plant was bombed by Allied bombers and was completely destroyed. This hurt BMW tremendously, obviously, but not as much as what happened after the war. After the Allies won the war, BMW was banned from manufacturing any vehicles. However, in 1947, BMW was allowed to do so again and it began developing more motorcycles, as they were cheap to make. This was followed by the famous BMW Isetta, which was also inexpensive to develop and was affordable for the common folk.
In 1962, BMW developed its first saloon car, which sort of set the brand up for the future. Its naming system from the early ’60s is actually still somewhat in tact today. The Neue Klasse (New Class) of vehicles also debuted in the late ’60s, giving us brilliant cars like the 2002 and 3.0 CS.
Then, in the late ’70s, the first-even BMW M-badged car debuted, called the M1. Designed by Giugiaro, the M1 was a stunning car and one that first launched the most famous letter in the automotive world. That then spawned the E28 BMW M5 and the E30 M3, which created the nameplates we all know and love today.
In the mid-’90s, BMW purchased MINI, a partnership that would go on to bring both brands tremendous success. It also bought Rolls Royce, which is ironic considering that both brands built machines to destroy each other in WWII. BMW then launched its first SUV, the X5, and won its first Le Mans in 1999.
More recently, BMW launched the i Division, with the BMW i3 and i8, which has completely changed the face of BMW forever. It’s quite fascinating to see the changes in the brand over 100 years, to see the humble roots and rough times throughout.