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The History Of BMW

BMW 3-series

Think German cultural icons and there are a number of things that come to mind. From Hugo Boss and Claudia Schiffer, to Oktoberfest, bratwurst and Beethoven, there is no shortage of big names that come out of Germany.

German motor engineering, however, is huge. In a 2013 top 20 best-selling vehicles poll put together by, 8 cars were of German descent. Colossal names such as Porsche, Mercedes and the ever-iconic Volkswagen still dominate much of the European roads. But there are few quite so quintessentially German than Bavarian Motor Works - more commonly known around the world as BMW.

Founded right in the middle of World War I, BMW was first born as a big name in the manufacture of aircraft engines. When the war ended in 1918, however, the company had to relinquish the manufacture of aircraft engines following the Treaty of Versailles - which looked to bring peace across Europe.

This change in direction saw the birth of production of motorcycles in 1923 - a branch now known as BMW Motorrad - with the hugely successful R32. This engine motorcycle consisted of an engine design and specification that would pave the way for BMW motorcycle design for the next 50 years. A notable occasion for Motorrad saw German racer Ernst Henne reaching an incredible top speed of 134mph on his 750cc BMW Motorcycle. Automobile manufacture took off in 1928 with the Austin Seven and, in the 1930’s, the BMW 328 changed the face of the 2.0 sports car. Another war and, inevitably, the production of military aircraft engines, led to the destruction of the Munich factory in an air raid in 1944. The years that followed saw the BMW brand grow both in vehicle and engine production and in sporting prowess.

BMW’s car division was hit with financial difficulties in 1959, and shareholders looked to capitalize on the popularity of economy cars at the time. This led to the production of small cars such as the Italian Iso Isetta, which was powered by aspects of the BMW motorbike engine. The company then shifted to be a leading manufacturer of sport saloons, with the 1500 and 1600 series spearheading 10 years of success in this area. With the opening of more plants in the 1970s and the growth in sports participation - such as an integration into the ever-growing Formula One - BMW never ceased to be an inspiration in automobile production. The company is now part of the ‘German Big Three’ in production of luxury vehicles, alongside Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

In 2012, a combined total of nearly 2,000,000 cars and motorbikes were produced - the same year ranked BMW as the number one most reputable company in the world. Today, BMW is still based in Bavaria and still manufactures cars, motorbikes and engines, as well as owning and producing cars by Mini and acting as a parent company of Rolls-Royce. This partnership, now almost 20 years old, allows the company to continue exploring the world of aircraft engines.

BMW  04/03/2014 16:27:03

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