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 vehicle 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 30s, BMW was making the 328, which featured an engine using a light allow head, with V-type overhead values 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 '50s 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 "new wave" 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. With the introduction of the 530i in 1975, BMW began to be associated with luxury-performance cars as well as sports sedans.