See Figure 1
BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) began its life in 1916 as a builder of aircraft engines (called the "Bavarian Aircraft Works"), although the name was changed to the present one only a year later. The company logo which still appears several places on each car represents a propeller spinning against a blue sky. Thus, the high performance associated with BMW engines has its origin in the necessity to minimize weight in an aircraft. BMW's first car was a licensed version of the Austin Seven produced by the Dixi automobile works which BMW purchased in 1928.
In 1933, BMW produced its first in-house design, the BMW 303. This model series began two BMW traditions which are well known-the 6-cylinder engine and twin kidney grills. By the end of the 30's, BMW was making the famous and still beautiful 328, which featured an engine using a light alloy head, with V-type overhead valves and hemi-head combustion chambers.
BMW's history as a major manufacturer of performance cars was eclipsed by the destruction of the Munich plant in World War II. The 50's were dominated by the extremes-the too-large 501, and the Isetta with a BMW motorcycle engine propelling it. Neither brought much profit to the company.
In 1959 Dr. Herbert Quant invested heavily in the company to save it from a sale of assets. In 1961, the 1500 was introduced, in the tradition of the later models. This "Neue Klasse" of 4-cylinder sports sedans has become recognized for its high output, low displacement and fuel efficient engine and light and compact chassis-body, which offers excellent road holding and braking.
First introduced to the North American continent as the 1.6 liter 1600, the 2 door versions of the "Neue Klasse" cars struck a chord with the motoring cognoscente. A year later in 1968 the first of the 2 liter 2002's rolled of the ships and into the driveways and racetracks. These were the cars that gave BMW a foothold in the North American market and practically invented the "sports sedan" segment that BMW has dominated ever since. With the introduction of the 530i in 1975, BMW began to be associated with luxury-performance cars as well as sports sedans.
New models were introduced, the 320i and 528i, replacing the 2002 and 530. These models brought BMW from the 70's into the 80's. Early in the decade, the E30 chassis 318i replaced the 320i and the E32 chassis 528e/533i replaced the 528i. The E30 chassis, with varying engine displacements existed up into the 90's, with the super fast, homologation special M3 as the pinnacle of the chassis.
The E32 chassis, also with varying engine displacements, existed up to 1988 when it was replaced by the E34 chassis 535i. In 1992 the M5 was upgraded to 310 horsepower with handling and brakes to match. The year 1992 also brought the introduction of the E36 chassis 325i and 318i, taking the target of the sports sedan market to new heights.
Practically no other marque has had such loyalty from its owners. The popularity of the 2002 sparked the formation of the BMW Car Club of America in the late 60's. Fully active in the early 70's, the club expanded and brought services and driving events to its members. Presently BMW CCA holds membership in excess of 30,000. From social events to drivers schools, 2002's to M5's, the BMW CCA has brought additional enjoyment to the owners of The Ultimate Driving Machine.
BMW cars take to the racetrack with aplomb. The advanced chassis and engines that make BMW's so good on the road, translate into winning on the racetrack. From parking lot autocross and road course racetracks to the forest roads of special stage PRO Rally, BMW's of all vintages can be found in the Winners Circle.