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BMW Cars | A Brief History

Updated on September 2, 2013

The Beginning: BMW Takes Flight

BMW has a long and storied history which harks back to the early years of the twentieth century. Founded in 1916 under the company name Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works for those of you who don't speak German), BMW was originally dedicate to the design and manufacture of aircraft and aircraft parts which may explain why the company logo appears to be a propeller.

Largely due to the disruptions caused by WWI BMW did not enter the automotive scene until 1928 with the release of the Dixi. The sudden and unexpected popularity of the Dixi proved that there was a market for BMW automobiles and launched the release of additional vehicles. As a result, between 1929 and 1931 over 12K Dixi DA/2 and DA/3 models were made. These little cars were powered by V4 engines and generated a modest 15 horsepower. These achievements along with BMWs race track successes by classics such as the 328 Roadster contributed to the increasing popularity of the marque.

BMWs Comes of Age - The Post-War Era

World War II once more stymied the production efforts of BMW but it soon launched the powerful 501 which was a full-sized six-cylinder sedan with an surprisingly large interior due to the company's last minute decision to remove two seats and convert it from a six to a four-seater.

The immediate successor to the 501 was the sequentially named 502. The 502 debuted in 1954 at the Geneva Auto Show and enjoyed the distinction of being the first eight-cylinder engine to be fielded by a German autohaus. But, it was with the arrival of the 1500 that BMW truly came of age. The 1500 was the prototypical BMW sedan: compact, sleek and undeniably sexy it purred down the autobahn with an advanced 80 hp motor.

BMW Accessories

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BMW's Golden Decade

The 1970s were, in many ways, the Golden Age of BMW in terms of design and production and allowed BMW to finally take its rightful place among Volkswagen and Daimler AG to form Germany's Big Three automakers. This decade saw the release of the iconic 3-Series as well as the 5-Series and 7-Series vehicles. And although many stylistic elements had been incorporated on BMW vehicles since its very beginning (think of the distinctive grilles and bold body lines) these cars were true masterpieces of aesthetics and engineering. In addition to these series the venerable M engineering and design division was formed partially to coincide with the launch of BMW North America as the company prepared to take an even larger portion of the upmarket base in the Western Hemisphere.

Want to See Every BMW Model Ever Produced?

Well, you're in luck. After searching high and low we found this great slide show which showcases all of BMW models past and present. Whether you want to get a look at the original Type 328 Roadster in action, the venerable 1500, an original 70s era 3-Series of a late model Z4 Roadster you'll find it here. If you've got seven minutes to spare and are a true BMW aficionado then this video is precisely what you've been looking for. Enjoy!

BMW | Still the Leader of the Pack

BMW exhibited strong performance throughout the 80s and 90s and enter the new millennium as ready and able as ever. 2004 marked BMW's entrance into the SUV market which had gained momentum throughout the late nineties and, in typical BMW style, they did so in a manner as unique and stylish as possible. Rather than referring to the X3 crossover as a simple SUV, BMW chose to use the acronym SAV or "Sports Activity Vehicle." Developed to combine the dexterity of a compact SUV with the feel and handling of the new X5,the new BMW X3 featured an upright, high H-point configuration which was ergonomic and gave its drivers a better view and precision grip. In addition to this so-called command seating, the X3's aesthetic was an exhibition of interweaving convex and concave surface which broke up airflow around the vehicle and was simultaneously dazzling to behold.

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