BMW nicknames have quite a long history. Whether you call it a Bimmer, Beemer or even Beamer, every title has certain logic and reasoning. Every true BMW fan should know the roots behind the three monikers with which the Bavarian brand is informally entitled. The origins of these nicknames is deeply anchored into the late 1930s decade and it’s coming straight from motorcycle racing.
The nickname “Beamer” is documented to have been the first of the three informal titles for BMW to appear in history. It appeared for the first time in Great Britain and it was used to distinguish the BMW motorcycles from the bikes of a local producer that bore the nickname “Beezer”.
Beamers enjoyed great success in the motorcycle racing series on British soil, being the first motorbike manufacturer outside Great Britain to win the prestigious “Isle of Man TT Races”. In 1939, Georg “Schorsch” Meier came home with the top trophy in the Senior TT race with his BMW 255 Kompressor motorcycle.
Besides the Beamer name, racing fans and motorbike enthusiasts have also come up with the Beemer nickname, which was constructed in analogy with the Beezers. Thus, the “Beemer” became more widely known than “Beamer”, even though the latter one was the first to appear and stand in for BMW motorcycles.
The reasoning behind these Beamer and Beemer titles resides in the fact that, in English, BMW is rather hard and longer to pronounce properly in English than it is in German, mainly because of its W ending letter, which has to be vocalized as “double u”. The old Beamer and the new and more popular Beemer are more fun to say and instantly recognizable to serve as official informal titles for BMW motorcycles.
As the Beemer nickname was gaining further traction, the Bimmer title appeared in the US for the first time catalyzed by a boom in popularity for BMW automobiles among North American clients. “Bimmer” originates in the early 1970s, when the Boston Chapter BMW Club used it in its official newsletter for the first time.
At the same time and completely independently from the Boston Chapter BMW Club, a US magazine for BMW fans appeared and further pave the way for the “Bimmer” to become the preferred nickname for BMW automobiles among US fans. Initially, North Americans were calling BMW cars Beamers but, after a while, the Bimmer moniker gained more traction and became more widespread.
Thus, “Beamer” joined the “Beemer” title and is reserved for the BMW motorcycles. It is incorrect to refer to a BMW automobile as a “Beamer”. Instead, it’s a Bimmer!