Black BMW 328 and black BMW 328 concept car in the desert.


Immerse yourself in the world of the BMW Group. Discover fascinating facts that expand 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.

5 milestones in the history of the BMW Group.

People watching a low-flying aircraft (black and white photo from 1916)
1916 Establishment of BMW.

BMW traces its roots back to Karl Rapp and Gustav Otto. In 1916, a company known as Flugmaschinenfabrik Gustav Otto had merged into Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke AG (BFW) at the government’s behest. Elsewhere, in 1917, the Rapp Motorenwerke company morphed into Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH, which was duly converted into 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 birth date of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

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BMW associates at the production of the BMW R23 Motorrad in 1923
1923 BMW R 32 – the first BMW motorcycle.

BMW announced its first motorcycle, the R 32, in 1923. Until then the company had only supplied engines rather than complete vehicles. The basic concept of the original BMW Motorrad model – a boxer engine with longitudinally positioned cylinders and shaft drive – is so sound that it continues to be employed in the company’s motorcycles to this day.

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Couple behind BMW 501 with aircraft in the background (1951)
1951 BMW 501. The first post-war BMW car.

BMW’s first post-war automobile was the 501, built from 1952 onwards. A large saloon 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. As a luxury car the BMW 501 was not a commercial success, but it nonetheless restored BMW’s status as a manufacturer of high-quality, technically exciting cars.

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A pair between two BMW 1500 at the IAA 1961
1961 The New Class makes a breakthrough.

BMW presented its 1500 model at the 1961 German Motor Show, and with it penetrated a gap in the market. This was the model that re-established BMW as a successful, modern carmaker. The design of the four-door touring car immediately generated excitement, and orders far exceeded production capacities. By 1963, the company was able to record a profit once more.

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Side view of the BMW i3 with open doors
2013 Launch of the BMW i3.

BMW embarks on a new era of electric mobility. With the BMW i3, the new BMW i brand presented the first all-electric series-production model from the BMW Group. Propelled by an electric motor – and thus entirely emission-free – this vehicle delivers a completely new driving experience that is compelling for its agility and sheer fun. Never has sustainability been so electrifying.

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  • 1916
  • 1923
  • 1951
  • 1961
  • 2013
BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce logos next to each other


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? To play an active and innovative role in shaping the face of mobility, both now and in the future.

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White and blue BMW Formula 1 racing car of race track

Historic motorsport.

Mille Miglia, motorcycle racing or Formula One: from the outset, BMW was one of the most active and successful brands in motorsport – on two, three and four wheels. BMW Group Classic’s Historic Motorsport division has set itself the task of providing maintenance and restoration for historic racing cars and bikes and returning them to the race track. Repeatedly, the Historic Motorsport division furnishes incontrovertible proof that speed is like riding a bicycle: once learnt, never forgotten.

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Photo albums with BMW models

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