BMW history begins in Germany, but continues in luxury automobile manufacturing around the world to this day. Most people don’t know the full name of this venerated automobile company or its impact throughout the history of the automobile industry.
The BMW remains a name associated with both utility and luxury. They have defined German automobile engineering for decades. Read on to learn the 100+ years of history of this famous luxury car brand.
BMW History: The Early Years
BMW history begins with two important men: Gustav Otto and Karl Rapp. Their separate automobile manufacturing companies merged in 1916. This gave way to the BFW, or Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke AG. In 1922, this company absorbed the construction duties of Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW). This means that the services provided by BFW transferred to the new company, BMW. This is why 1916 is considered the date of creation for the manufacturer, even though the name and emblem would be refined for a couple of years after that.
In WWI, the company produced inboard engines. By 1920, engine production transferred to a new financier named Castiglioni. He relocated BMW to Munich, which is still the company’s base of operations today. Shortly after, BMW produced its first motorcycle. This was a huge deal for the company since this vehicle marked the first time the company produced more than engines. This motorcycle was conceived and assembled from scratch by BMW.
This led to automotive manufacturing becoming BMW’s primary focus by 1928. This changed with the war, however.
BMW History During the War
Between world wars, Germany’s conversion to National Socialism affected all industries, including automobile manufacturing. BMW began specializing in armaments and aero-engines. They still made vehicles but on a smaller scale.
As demands for armaments grew, BMW turned to aircraft construction (on government orders). This created new company mergers, increasing the size of the manufacturer significantly in the late 1930s. By 1941, the Munich plant, flush with government money, was a premier aircraft manufacturer for the German military in time for WWII.
BMW History in the Modern Era
After the war, the Allies dismantled a lot of BMW’s manufacturing plants. This cost the company most of its assets until 1948 when motorcycle production began again. Due to material shortages, this was a slow period for the company.
The 6-person BMW 501 hit the market in 1952. It wasn’t a huge financial success but it didn’t have to be. The idea of BMW producing huge luxury vehicles successfully jumpstarted the company’s image into the modern era. This climaxed with the BMW 1500 in 1961, the middle-class sedan that put BMW on the map.
Since then, BMW has had to expand its facilities to meet demand. Today, few companies can claim an equal reputation for luxury consumer-class vehicles.
BMW history began in rocky straits, forming in Germany on the cusp of World Wars. However, it survived through its military contracts, was stripped down after the war, and slowly built itself back up into a luxury consumer vehicle manufacturer. The name BMW is now synonymous with high-quality, large sedans made from luxury materials and classy designs.