May 4, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on August 9, 2022

BMW LogoBrief History About BMW

BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) was founded in Germany in 1916 by Franz Josef Popp, Karl Rapp and Camillo Castiglioni. Previous to this, BMW was part of Rapp Motorenwerke aircraft, who built aircraft engines. In 1923 BMW started to build motorcycles followed by cars in 1928. Their first car was based on the Austin 7 and called the Dixi.

During the 30’s BMW moved back to building aircraft engines as well and built many engines for German WW2 aircraft.

After the war BMW returned to building production motorcycles in 1948, followed by its first post-war car the BMW 501, built in 1951. However, during the 50’s BMW, like many automotive manufacturers were having some financial difficulties, so a decision was made to build small cars (ISO Isetta based) and put their motorcycle engine in them.

In 1961 BMW built and had much success with their BMW 1500 4 door saloon and started to make a profit again. BMW also purchased Hans Glas in 1966, a small German car maker, which gained them a much needed boost with a new factory and skilled staff.

With successful sales, BMW creates BMW Motorsports in 1972, builds a new HQ and museum in Munich in 1973 and a new engine plant in Steyr, Austria in 1979.

During the 80’s more divisions and buildings are built, as the growth continues.

Into the 90’s and BMW acquires several other companies, including Rolls-Royce and Rover (which included Land Rover, MG, Austin and Morris), but due to losses from Rover, sold that concern on, but retained the rights to build the Mini, which they did from 2001.

To this day BMW is considered by many to be the benchmark in car manufacture in the automotive industry, with success in both road and track.

BMW 507
507 1956-1959

2002 Turbo
2002 Turbo E20 1973-1975

1M Coupe
1M Coupe 2011

M1 E26
M1 E26 1978-1981

M2 Coupe
M2 2016

M235i Coupe
M235i Coupe 2014

E30 3 Series
E30 3 Series 1981-1991

E36 3 Series
E36 3 Series 1992-1999

E46 3 Series
E46 3 Series 1999-2006

E92 Coupe 3 Series
E92 Coupe 3 Series 2006-2012

F80 M3 Saloon
F80 M3 Saloon 2014-2018

G80 M3 Saloon
G80 M3 Saloon 2020 on

F32 4 Series
4 Series 2014 on

M5 E28
M5 E28 1985-1988

M5 E34
M5 E34 1989-1996

M5 E39
M5 E39 1998-2003

M5 E60
M5 E60 2005-2010

M5 F10
M5 F10 2011-2017

M5 F10
M5 F90 2018 on

E24 6 Series
E24 6 Series 1976-1989

M6 2005 on

E31 8 Series
E31 8 Series 1989-1999

M850i xDrive 2019

M8 2019

Z1 1989-1991

Z3 Roadster 1996-2002

Z3 M Coupe
Z3 M Coupe 1998-2002

Z4 2003-2008

Z4 M 2006-2008

Z4 E89
Z4 M 2009-2017

Z8 2000-2003

3.0 CSL
3.0 CSL 1971-1975

(See Mini for the BMW Mini)