The Bavarian Motor Works company is headquartered in Munich, Germany and represents German engineering at its finest. BMW is the parent company of Rolls Royce and is the owner of the MINI brand. Since the company’s inception in 1916, the company has been a standard bearer for luxury and performance, a tradition that has carried through two world wars, the present and promises to carry on into the future.
British Motor Works began this storied history with the production of aircraft engines rather than car engines. The first noteworthy engine produced was the BMW IIIa inline-6 aviation engine. The success of this engine late in World War 1 along with significant advances made in a number of other prototype inline-6 engines is said to have influenced the design logo for BMW. The circular blue and white BMW logo is said portray the movement of an airplane propeller, to signify the white blades cutting through the blue sky. It was officially adopted by BMW in 1929. Whatever the significance on the logo, after World War 1, the Versailles Armistice Treaty was enacted and BMW was forced to cease production of aircraft motors. They turned instead to production of motorcycles and car engines. The thirties brought a new era to Germany and rearmament began in earnest. The treaty was dissolved and BMW began producing aircraft for the Luftwaffe. Several successful aircraft engine designs were produced by BMW during World War 2 including the BMW 801 air cooled radial engine and the revolutionary 003 axial flow turbo jet.
Although BMW had gone back to producing aircraft engines, it never completely dropped the motorcycle and car engine line. By 1959, they were beginning to experience financial difficulties and was contemplating halting production of car engines altogether. A last ditch attempt to salvage the automotive was decided upon, and the decision was made to explore the economy car market. The venture enjoyed enough success to put the manufacturer back on its feet.
Gradually BMW began to move toward the luxury car market and by 1980 its success in the arena had been established. BMW had established itself as a car manufacturer known for high end quality, as well as indulgence and was now a solid rival to its chief competitor, Mercedes-Benz.
BMW acquired the Rover brand in 1994 in order to compete in the SUV market; however it was unable to make any progress in halting the sliding sales of the Rover. BMW broke up the Rover Company and sold the MG division to a Phoenix consortium while Ford acquired the Rover label.
BMW retained the rights to the classic mini and subsequently began a redesign of the car. The new MINI, spelled with all capital letters to distinguish it from the classic mini, was introduced in 2001 and was an instant success. The popularity of the MINI in the United States shows that BMW has the ability and vision to move outside the boundaries of current car production and promises to introduce some of the most exciting cars seen to date. As the company prepares to celebrate its centennial anniversary, one can only imagine what it may think of next.