BMW has impressed car enthusiasts with its range of luxurious, high-performance vehicles that deliver sheer driving pleasure. Here are 12 little-known facts about the brand which give us snapshots of its remarkable history.
Some of their best engines, the BMW 132 and 801, were produced during the Second World War.
1. BMW manufactured airplane engines until 1945.
Manfred von Richthofen, considered as the greatest fighter pilot in German history, praised these engines for their fuel efficiency and exceptional performance in high altitudes. A BMW engine-powered biplane could soar up to 32,000 feet, which was an impressive feat back in 1919.
2. The Treaty of Versailles led BMW into making cars.
The Treaty of Versailles prohibited Germany from manufacturing warplanes and warplane engines post World War I. The brand diversified by making cars, the first one being the Dixi 3/15.
3. BMW became a kitchen fixture, too.
To sustain the business after World War II, BMW diversified and manufactured pots and pans.
4. BMW had the distinction of building the world’s fastest motorcycle in 1937.
The motorcycle could speed up to over 170 miles per hour, which was unprecedented during that time.
5. The BMW Rennsport RS54 Sidecar is a sidecar motorcycle racing legend.
Powered by a flat-twin, double-overhead-camshaft engine, the BMW Rennsport has won the World Sidecar Championships in 1954 and 19 other world titles until 1974.
BMW motorcycle racers have been known for pushing the limits of the sport. Racers would lean so far out of their cycles while they raced that it was said that their faces almost scraped against the asphalt.
6. BMW unveiled two epic firsts in 1933.
These were the inline six-cylinder engine and the iconic kidney-shaped grille. A car sporting both features was developed a few years later: the BMW 328 Roadster.
7. Ahead of its time, the limited edition BMW Z1 was mostly built by hand.
Considered revolutionary back in the 1980s, this roadster featured lightweight plastic exteriors and futuristic vertical sliding doors; nothing like it has been built before, and nothing like it has been built since. This limited edition concept car was sold exclusively to the European market.
8. The BMW 507 was inspired by the Mercedes-Benz 190SL and the 300SL.
The two-seater roadster featured a shortened chassis and a 3.2-liter V-8 engine that generated 150 hp. With only 251 units produced from 1956 to 1959, the 507 is a certified collectible.
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9. The BMW 328 Kamm Coupé disappeared without a trace in 1953.
Named after German aerodynamics pioneer Wunibald Kamm, the legendary race car was hidden to protect it from the Allied aerial assault during World War II. It was later acquired by BMW racing director Ernst Loof who later sent it to a junkyard after an accident. It was recreated from scratch in 2010.
10. Over 2.5 million BMWs were sold in 2019.
According to the BMW Group, it sold 2,520,307 BMW, Rolls Royce, and MINI vehicles to customers worldwide, legitimizing its claim as the world’s leading premium car company.
11. BMWs have starred in James Bond movies.
You’ve probably spotted a BMW in The World is Not Enough, Goldeneye, and Tomorrow Never Dies. BMWs were the first non-British cars ever driven by Agent 007.
BMW also got screen time in Transporter, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and Ronin.
12. The BMW M1 was designed by an Italian.
And not just any Italian. Giorgetto Giugiaro was named Car Designer of the Century in 1999 (his DeLorean was made memorable by the Back to the Future movie franchise). He also designed iconic products such as the Nikon D4 camera, Seiko Speedmaster watch, and Beretta Neos handgun.
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