One of the world's most revered and well-known brands is BMW, and for no small reason. The er, series of quality machinery that the company has been producing since the late-1920s has made BMW a household name.
The German company actually began its foray in aviation in 1917, but moved on to motorcycle and car production soon after. Creator of scores of iconic cars and motorcycles over the decades, BMW has a rich heritage and history that even other well-established manufacturers can only dream of.
So what makes BMW tick? Why is it such an iconic automobile and motorcycle brand? Here are ten cool things to know about BMW.
1. Who is BMW?
The acroynm BMW expands to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, or Bavarian Motor Works in English, and is a famous luxury car and motorcycle manufacturer based in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. The company also owns MINI and has a controlling stake in Rolls Royce Cars. BMW vehicles are informally called ‘Bimmers', these are some of the most recognisable and well-known premium cars in the world.
2. The truth about the BMW logo
Contrary to popular belief, the BMW ‘roundel' is not a spinning propeller, but actually a representation of the national colours of the Free State of Bavaria. BMW emerged from a company called Rapp Motor Works who used a roundel with a black horse as their emblem - BMW continued using the same roundel but with the mirrored hues of Bavaria, because of legal constraints.
The idea that BMW's roundel represented the propeller of a plane, came from a 1929 advertisement that had the roundel imposed into the plane's propeller. However, a clarification came from Mr. Plucinsky, a BMW spokesperson who told the New York Times in 2010 that there was no connection between aircraft propellers and the logo.
3. What is the ‘Kidney Grille’?
One of the most iconic grille designs of all times has to be BMW's very own Kidney Grille. Although it has evolved into a more compact and rounded style nowadays, the kidneys used to be two slim grilles parallel to each other earlier in the German company's history. The first car to use the famous design was the BMW 303, that was incidentally also BMW's first six-cylinder car.
4. What makes the BMW headquarters so special?
BMW's top bosses and officials choose to conduct business from this very special building in Munich, Germany, which is unique because it is shaped in the form of a four-cylinder engine. BMW has always been extremely passionate about their four-pot motors, and thus chose to construct their headquarters in that shape.
5. BMW’s M Division
The now-famous performance arm of BMW - the M Division - was initially created to support BMW's racing program in the 1960s and 1970s, gradually moving on to creating specially modified higher-spec versions of production models, like the M3, for example. The first car to be manufactured by BMW M was the M1 from 1978 to 1981, a project Lamborghini was initially supposed to be in charge of, but the Italian company's financial constraints saw it fall through. Notably, the M Division is the only performance company to work on motorcycles as well, like the BMW S1000RR.
6. And BMW Motorrad?
BMW also is also a successful motorcycle manufacturer, and has actually been making two-wheelers since way back in 1923. Interestingly, the company was credited with making one of the fastest motorcycles in the 1930s, a supercharged number that was capable of hitting 278 km/h! BMW Motorrad currently takes part in the World Superbike Championship, with its BMW S1000RR.
7. Did you know this was also a BMW?
BMW also built this famous microcar, called the BMW Isetta, in the 1950s, which came to be popularly known as the ‘bubble car'. Manufactured under license from Isetta, the tiny car was the first to achieve fuel economy of 3 litres per 100 kilometres, and was also the top-selling single-cylinder car in the world, with over 161,728 examples sold.
8. BMW was almost taken over by Mercedes?
In 1959, BMW was near bankruptcy, when Daimler Benz attempted to buy them over. However, a strong retaliation ensued from the Bavarian company, sourcing a private investor to help the firm ride through the storm, and whose family still retains a major share to this day.
9. BMW won an F1 Driver’s Championship With An Extremely Dated Engine!
Yeah, so what, you might think. But few know that the company took top accolades in the 1983 World Driver's Championship at the hands of Nelson Piquet with an basic engine design that went back two decades! The M10 four-cylinder engine initially began life producing only 75 hp, which was coaxed to eventually make a staggering 1,400 horses!
10. Any guesses as to how Bob Marley and BMW are connected?
The reggae superstar from Jamaica drove a BMW for quite a while in his life. However, Bob Marley's take on driving a luxury car was something only a free spirit like him could imagine, and he is quoted to have said, "I have a BMW. But only because BMW stands for Bob Marley and the Wailers, not because I need an expensive car." One love.