BMW

BMW Group history.

FASCINATION INTO THE FUTURE.

Immerse yourself in the world of the BMW Group. Discover fascinating facts that deepen your understanding of the brand’s history. Experience both highlights of the past and trailblazing developments that continue to define the allure of the BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars brands to this day.

Logos von BMW, MINI und Rolls-Roys nebeneinander

THE BMW GROUP BRANDS.

The BMW Group, with its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars brands, is one of the world’s most successful premium manufacturers of cars and motorcycles. The company demonstrates its commitment to innovation, sustainability and product responsibility all the way from development to production. Its aim is to play an active and innovative role in shaping the face of mobility, now and in the future.

Weiß-blauer BMW Formel 1 Rennwagen auf Rennstrecke

HISTORIC MOTORSPORT.

BMW has been one of the most active and successful brands in motor sport from day one, notching up countless victories and records on two, three and four wheels. BMW Group Classic’s Historic Motorsport division sends its old racing cars and motorcycles back out into the world’s courses and circuits with the same enthusiasm as the works and privateer teams  back in the day.

HISTORIC POSTERS.

HISTORIC POSTERS.

On a large billboard inside the BMW Museum we are celebrating four decades of poster art in the service of BMW. Learn more here about the exciting stories behind the posters and download your favourite one.

5 MILESTONES IN THE HISTORY OF THE BMW GROUP.

Menschen betrachten ein tieffliegendes Flugzeug (Schwarz-Weiss-Foto von 2016)
1916 BMW IS BORN.

BMW traces its roots back to Karl Rapp and Gustav Otto. In 1916, a company known as Flugmaschinenfabrik Gustav Otto merged into Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke AG (BFW) at the German government's behest. Elsewhere, in 1917, the Rapp Motorenwerke company morphed into Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH, which duly became an AG (public limited company) in 1918. BMW AG subsequently transferred its engine construction operations – including the company and brand names – to BFW in 1922. The date of BFW's founding, 7 March 1916, has therefore gone down in history as the birthdate of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

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BMW Arbeiter bei der Fertigung des BMW R 23 Motorrads 1923.
1923 THE BMW R 32 – THE FIRST BMW MOTORCYCLE.

The success story of BMW motorcycles started at the Berlin Motor Show in 1923. The aero-engine manufacturer presented its first motorcycle with the BMW R 32. The quality of the machine was a major factor for success. All the parts likely to need repair were encapsulated and the drive shaft was easier to service than standard chains or belts. The Boxer engine with cylinders mounted transverse to the direction of motion remains a characteristic feature of BMW motorcycles to this day, alongside the cardan shaft. The very successful overall design of the R 32 was penned by Max Friz and is regarded as a milestone in motorcycle history.

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Paar hinter BMW 501 mit Flugzeug im Hintergrund (1951)
1951 THE BMW 501. THE FIRST POST-WAR BMW CAR.

BMW's first post-war car was the 501, built from 1952. A large sedan capable of seating up to six people, it was powered by an evolution of the six-cylinder engine used in the pre-war BMW 326. Although not a commercial success, this luxury model restored BMW's status as a manufacturer of high-quality, technically exciting cars.

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Ein Paar zwischen zwei BMW 1500 bei der IAA 1961
1961 THE NEW CLASS MAKES A BREAKTHROUGH.

BMW presented its 1500 model at the 1961 German Motor Show, filling a gap in the market in the process. This was the model that re-established BMW as a successful modern carmaker. The design of the four-door mile-eater immediately generated excitement and orders far exceeded production capacities. By 1963, the company was back in profit. DISCOVER THE HISTORY

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Seitenansicht des BMW i3 mit geöffneten Türen
2013 LAUNCH OF THE BMW i3.

BMW embarked on a new era of electric mobility with the presentation by the new BMW i brand of the BMW Group’s first all-electric series-production model – the BMW i3. Propelled by an electric motor (and thus entirely emission-free) the i3 delivered an all-new driving experience of compelling agility and unbridled fun. Never has sustainability been so electrifying.

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  • 1916
  • 1923
  • 1951
  • 1961
  • 2013