With a lineup of high-performance vehicles that cater to a wide range of markets, BMW is perhaps the most recognized German car manufacturer worldwide. Much has been written about BMW, but even the most avid car enthusiasts might not be entirely familiar with the brand’s long and colorful history. Here, German Performance Options (aka “GPO Tuning”) discusses 20 interesting facts you might not know about BMW.
- BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works
Or Bayerische Motoren Werke AG in German. It was founded in 1916 by Karl Rapp, Gustav Otto, Camillo Castiglioni, and Franz Josef Popp.
- Before it became synonymous with premium automobiles, BMW manufactured aircraft engines
While BMW is now synonymous with cars, the company manufactured aircraft engines in its early years. These became popular for their high-altitude performance and fuel efficiency and were sought-after during World War I and World War II. BMW continued to manufacture aircraft engines until 1945.
- The company diversified even further
Wartime pushed the company to diversify and explore alternative revenue sources. Thus, BMW also produced railway brakes, pumps for agricultural equipment, and engines for buses and trucks.
- The Treaty of Versailles prompted BMW to produce cars
The treaty prohibited German manufacturers from aircraft and aircraft engines that could be used for war. Their first car, the Dixi, was manufactured in 1929. While it was their first car, BMW did not design it; it was an English Austin and was produced in Japan as a Datsun, and in the US as a Bantum.
- BMW made a resurgence post-war with the BMW 501
Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1951, the “Baroque Angel” (as BMW 501 and its derivative, BMW 502, were known) was the first car manufactured by BMW after World War II.
- The colors of the BMW logo represent Bavaria
Contrary to the popular belief that BMW’s logo was designed to represent a propeller, its colors symbolized the colors of Bavaria, where its headquarters is located. The black
disc on the logo is a tribute to Rapp Motorenwerke, the founding company of BMW.
- BMW built its first electric car in 1972
While electric cars went mainstream fairly recently, the first electric car was manufactured in 1828. BMW was ahead of its time and produced its first electric car in 1972, the BMW 1602e.
- Iconic British brands Rover, MINI, and Rolls Royce are owned by BMW
In 1994, BMW acquired the Rover Group, which owned the rights to MINI, among other car brands. BMW purchased the luxury carmaker Rolls Royce in 1998.
- BMW’s German headquarters took inspiration from its famous four-cylinder engines
Located in Munich, the BMW headquarters was built between 1968 and 1972. Designed by Austrian architect Karl Schwanzer, four vertical towers standing next to each other are suspended on a central support tower.
- The BMW M1 was almost a Lamborghini
BMW entered into an agreement with Italian car manufacturer Lamborghini in the 1970s to produce a race car. Conflicts arose, leaving BMW to complete the project by themselves. The result is the BMW M-1, the first mid-engined BMW to be mass-produced.
- Mercedes Benz attempted a takeover of BMW
Arch-rival Mercedes Benz attempted a hostile takeover of BMW in 1959 when the latter was on the verge of bankruptcy. The attempt was thwarted by stockholder Herbert Quandt, who later took on the reins of BMW.
- BMW’s signature grilles are called a kidney grilles
One of the features that make a BMW instantly recognizable is its kidney-shaped grilles, which first appeared on the BMW 303.
- They built the world’s fastest motorcycle in 1937
BMW manufactured the fastest motorcycle in the world in 1937, and it could reach
speeds of up to 173.7 miles per hour.
- BMW is a favorite among celebrities
Celebrities who drive a BMW include Pierce Brosnan (BMW i8), Charlie Sheen (BMW X5), Gigi Hadid (BMW M2 Competition Coupe), Reese Witherspoon (BMW Alpina B7), and Angelina Jolie (BMW Series 7).
- BMW was, and still is, at the forefront of aerodynamic design
In 1940 BMW was able to streamline the rear end of the 328 Kamm Coupe, increasing its straight-line speed by up to 30 percent. This design can be seen in other car models such as the Prius and the Corvette.
Today each BMW car is meticulously designed to minimize drag, which leads to fuel efficiency, noise reduction, and driving stability.
- They still manufacture World War era parts for their vehicles
In Nashville, BMW service requirements of vintage models are not an issue as BMW still manufactures World War era parts. There’s no need to scour the internet for elusive spare parts.
- BMW launched its highly successful “The Ultimate Driving Machine” campaign in the 1970s
While the car manufacturer introduced “Sheer Driving Pleasure” and “Joy is BMW” in different regions, “The Ultimate Driving Machine” campaign had the most recall. Developed by BMW Executive Vice President for Global Sales and Marketing Bob Lutz in 1974, it resonated with an entire generation.
There’s a difference between a beamer and a bimmer
“Beamer” is the slang for a BMW motorcycle while “bimmer” refers to a BMW car.
- BMW once produced a bubble car
With its egg shape and bubble-like windows, the BMW Isetta is perhaps the most
out-of-character vehicle that became part of the BMW family.
- BMW was involved in Formula One
The BMW M12/13 turbo 1500 cc 4-cylinder turbocharged Formula One engine, patterned after the BMW M10 engine introduced in 1961, was beneath the hood of Brabham, Arrows, and Benetton F1 cars.
German Performance Options (aka “GPO Tuning”) is a BMW service repair shop and partners with ColorKraft Auto, who offers paint and bodywork, collision repair, dent repair, wheel repair, and car detailing in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Other models, like Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, and Mercedes Benz are also accepted for maintenance and repair at GPO Tuning. Schedule an appointment by calling 931.901.0238. GPO Tuning (also known as “German Performance Options”) is Nashville’s most trusted import repair shop. Get in touch with their service advisors by calling 615.248.9466.