The Evolution of BMW’s Logo
BMW is one of Germany’s best-well-known automakers and one of the world’s most valuable brands with a value of $25.6 billion as of 2017. Bavaria’s finest creator of luxury vehicles sold last year in excess of 2.1 million units, over 310,000 of these finding their customers in the U.S. In spite of the company’s sizeable footprint and large array of models on sale, as well as its history that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, many still aren’t sure of the history behind BMW’s ubiquitous logo. Along with the kidney grilles, the circular badge that features a black outline and a central area divided into four sections, two white and two blue, is part of any Bimmer’s identity. But what does it represent? Is it a nod to BMW’s aeronautical origins or does it simply have to do with the flag of the region of Bavaria?
The question we posed above is simple, about as simple as they get in the auto industry. Or so you’d think. In fact, many hardcore BMW fans still debate to this day on the backstory of this seemingly basic-looking badge that has remained largely unchanged since 1917. While many stories have been written about how BMW settled for the logo you see to this day on its cars, the debate continues, so we thought we’d give it a stab ourselves at putting the dispute to rest. Read on to find out what really hides behind the emblem.
On the 41st Anniversary Of The 1978 BMW M1, Here’s The History of Harald Ertl and the Fastest M1 Ever Built
The BMW M1 remains the only true supercar built by BMW and, thanks to the Procar Series that celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, it enjoys an aura quite like no other supercar. Harald Ertl, the mustachioed Austrian journalist who split his time between writing and racing, decided he liked the sound of "Harald Ertl the Land Speed Record holder" and prepared for the job of creating the most insane M1 seen outside of the racing circuits.
Ertl. Does this name ring any bells in your head? If you are, by chance, or at least used to be a model car aficionado, you might remember the venerable Ertl plastic and die-cast kits. Well, this Ertl has nothing to do with the American toy company because Harald Ertl was Austrian, born on the last day of Summer in 1948 in Zell Am See, a picturesque town in the state of Salzburg. By trade, he was an automotive journalist but, as time wore on, he became more and more involved in racing cars rather than merely testing and writing about them - a bit like Frenchman Paul Frere. Ertl established himself throughout the ’70s as an easily adaptable semi-professional driver who could tame anything from an F2 single-seater to the menacing Zakspeed-built Ford Capri III.
In 1981, he took a sabbatical away from racing and, instead, focused on getting his name carved in the history books as a land speed record holder. His weapon of choice? A twin-turbocharged BMW M1 with a bespoke widebody and about 400 ponies at the crank. Due to the lightness of the thing, the same output you’d find hiding under the body of a Genesis G80 propelled Ertl to a top speed of 187.3 mph. The trick up Ertl’s sleeve was to be found in the tank of the M1. You see, the car was made to run on liquid petroleum gas (LPG), also known as Autogas. No one before Ertl had gone that fast in an LPG-powered car and, in a way, it’s fitting that the current fastest LPG-powered car is also a BMW, only one that tops at almost 207 mph.
Collective gasps welcomed the BMW Turbo Concept on the stage at the 1972 edition of the Paris Motor Show. The car, stunning from every angle, was the embodiment of what future BMW products would offer: cutting-edge looks, state-of-the-art technology, and performance. This mesmerizing prototype designed by Paul Bracq was the inspiration for BMW’s one and only supercar: the M1. Thirty years later, BMW honored both the Turbo and the M1 by creating the appropriately-named M1 Hommage. Dressed in a similar coat of hypnotic red as the Turbo and with countless design cues that trace their roots in the Giugiaro-penned M1, the Hommage was a way for BMW to look back while also looking towards the future.
First displayed at the Concorso D’Eleganza Villa D’Este in 2008, the M1 Hommage was the German manufacturer’s way of refreshing the wedge-shaped M1 which was celebrating its 30th birthday. BMW brought the much-revered older siblings to complement the launch of this design experiment, but many were left bemused by the company’s announcement that there would be no new supercar to come from Munich.
This wasn’t, however, entirely true as BMW didn’t ignore its waves of fans who fell in love with their 2008 concept and went on to include certain unmistakable design cues in their 2009 Vision EfficentDynamics concept which led to the BMW i8. It’s not a supercar, it was never intended to be, but it’s similar enough to the M1 Hommage to make us happy, and it also channels the Turbo prototype through all of its hybrid technology that it incorporates.
BMW today is widely regarded as one of leading premium car makers, battling for glory with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Cadillac. But it wasn’t always like that. The brand started life as an aircraft engine manufacturer in 1916 and switched to motorcycles in 1923. It was only in 1927 that BMW built its first vehicle, the 3/15 DA-1 or "Dixi," an economy car based on the Austin 7. It took the Germans nearly three decades to develop their first luxury car, the 501 (followed by the V-8-powered 502), also known as the "Baroque Angel," but they sold it alongside microcars and economy cars such as the Isetta, 600, and 700 in order to stay afloat due to the financial hardship the company experienced in the late 1950s.
Discontinued in 1964, the 502 wasn’t replaced. However, four years later, BMW decided to try and compete against Mercedes-Benz once again, this time with a full-size sedan based on its "New Class" platform. Codenamed E3 and known as the New Six, it was BMW’s first premium car in years and the first six-cylinder vehicle after a long hiatus. The E3 preceded the first-generation 7 Series, which would later build BMW into one of the most important premium automakers in the world. The 7 Series saga began in 1977 and continues unbroken to this day. As one of the most successful luxury, full-size sedans on the market today, the 7 Series just earned its place in TopSpeed’s series of historical retrospectives.
Continue reading to learn more about the BMW 7 Series.
2015 is a special year for BMW of North America, which celebrates 40 years since it began operating in the U.S. Additionally, March 2015 marks four decades since BMW Motorsport scored its first victory on U.S. soil, at the 1975 12 Hours of Sebring. To celebrate these key milestones in the company’s history in the U.S., BMW announced it will join this weekend’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance with a series of events and historic vehicles, as well as special racing livery for the Z4 GTLM race car.
Arguably the main star of BMW’s anniversary party at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island, the special Z4 GTLM will break cover wearing a livery inspired by the 3.0 CSL race cars of the mid-1970s. Even though the teaser only shows a covered Z4 between two classic racers, it’s safe to assume the livery will mirror the paint schemes of the 3.0 CSLs flanking it, meaning a white body with the traditional blue-purple-red stripes of the company’s M division. 1975 12 Hours of Sebring winners Brian Redman, Sam Posey, and Hans Stuck will be on hand for the unveiling of the car that will then travel to Sebring for this year’s 12 Hours endurance race.
Continue reading to learn more about BMW’s future 40th anniversary Z4 racer.
The BMW Art Cars project has built a lasting link between contemporary art and BMW motorsport. There are no sponsor stickers on these cars – just the beauty and timelessness of art.
In addition to creating some gorgeous show pieces for the BMW museum, the Art Car project is more important now than anyone first envisioned when signing off on the initial Calder work in 1975. Each of the cars represents the artist’s point of view at the time, expressed in the same medium: a BMW.
The artists selected over the years have broad backgrounds, nationalities and portfolios that could almost never be compared directly outside of the Art Cars collection, because in their daily craft they all choose wildly different mediums to express themselves. Whether the work of a sculptor, painter, graphic designer, conceptualist or visionary, the end products are cars that are truly magnificent to behold.
For 2013, BMW Portland is sponsoring a new contest that is open to anyone. The winning artist’s work will adorn a 2013 BMW 650i, and the details are available here. The deadline for submissions is May 15th, 2013, so start your creative engines and submit a winner!
click past the jump for a timeline of the BMW Art Cars project and image galleries of the 18 stunning BMW Art Cars so far.
A few days ago, BMW announced the M3 DTM Champion Edition — a special M3 built as a tribute to 40th anniversary of BMW’s M subsidiary. Today, the company has unveiled a sweet video marking the most important moments in the company’s history.
“A company is like a human being. As long as it goes in for sports, it is fit, well-trained, full of enthusiasm and performance." These were the words of Robert A. Lutz, BMW AG Board Member Sales, back in 1972 when the new company was officially being announced. They were the words christening the youngest subsidiary of BMW AG at the time, BMW Motorsport GmbH. Today, the company is called BMW M GmbH. Fortunately, it is just as fit, well-trained, and full of enthusiasm and performance as it was 40 years ago.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1955, BMW unveiled an all new sports car that was put in place to help continue the company’s post-war growth. The 503, as BMW dubbed it, went into production the next year and came in both a coupe and convertible model. Only 413 total 503 models were ever built and 139 of those were convertibles (cabriolet).
This makes the BMW 503 Series I Cabriolet one of the most desired BMWs of both its era and all eras, for that matter. The 503 was never an overly powerful model, but it was a well-balanced car that delivered performance and comfort at the same time – something that was lacking in the late-1950s.
With it only seeing a production run up until 1959, getting your hands on one of these gems is quite the tough task. It is not completely impossible, however, as there are a few that cross the auction block every handful of years. You can bet your bottom dollar on the fact that these rare 2+2 drop-tops fetch a rather hefty sum.
Click past the jump to read all about the 1956 through 1959 BMW 503 Series I Cabriolet.
The 3-Series is one of the best sold models in BMW’s history. The first model arrived onto the market in 1975 and since then, a total of six generations have been offered. You can imagine that discussing all of the models offered during this 37 year long history can be pretty difficult.
However, BMW has found a way to detail this long history in a three minutes long video. The video discusses every new model offered since 1975, and goes into how each generation has its own characteristics while maintaining the 3-Series roots. The BMW 3 Series sedan is the latest representative of a long history.
The sixth generation arrived as a 2012 model year and now we are all waiting for the new M3 sports version set to arrive as a 2014 model. Until then, enjoy this very cool video.
Building a roadster can give car manufacturers some unique opportunities. These types of vehicles typically have a devoted following and create their own rules outside of the constraints of many mainstream companies’ core product lines. They are able to test new technology and bend the rules of design in order to make a roadster look and feel like it belongs with everything else.
Roadsters are also a very specific formula of two-doors, lightweight components, and the thrill of open air driving. In a way, the first cars ever built were roadsters and the trend has continued throughout time with legendary models from Ford, Chrysler, and BMW. German brands were the last to catch on to the glory days of the roadster from the 1950s and BMW began producing its first back in 1989 with the Z1.
Many BMW fans may look at this moniker and thing, “does he mean M1?” No, we don’t mean the fantastic supercar that BMW built around the same time and has yet to be resurrected. The Z1 was the first in a line of two-seat roadsters that BMW produced and it proved a worthy test-bed for some BMW technology still used today.
Hit the jump for more details on the BMW Z1.
The BMW M3 debuted in August 1985 and was very well-received as the fastest 3-Series ever. At that time, the M3 boasted of 200hp, a 0-60 mph sprint time just inside of 6.7 seconds, and a top speed of over 143mph. Oh boy, have things changed! The current M3 is powered by a V8 engine producing an impressive 420 HP and a top speed limited to 155 mph. Things will be getting even better as BMW will be bringing the new M3 powered by a twin-turbo engine and packing 450 HP. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph will be made in 4.5 seconds.
With this information in tow, there’s no doubt that the M3 has become one of the most successful models in BMW’s history. And to celebrate the sports car’s 25th Anniversary, the German automaker has released a short video highlighting the model’s greatest moments. Check it out!
Former BMW design chief Chris Bangle talks to us about art, and the reasoning behind the notorious Bangle butt
As part of The Wolfsonian art museum’s “Styled for the Road” weekend of automotive themed activities, we had the pleasure of listening to BMW’s former head of design, Chris Bangle, talk about cars as art. The first question that Mr. Bangle asked the audience is why can’t cars be art? Just because they are a functional aspect of our daily lives doesn’t mean that they don’t evoke emotion much like a painting or sculpture can. As a means of defending his argument, Mr. Bangle spent a bit of time applying the Duck Test, because after all if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, then why can’t a car be art.
A common misconception at this point in the story is differentiating between the terms car and automobile. The word automobile has only been around for the past 120 years and is used to describe a vehicle that can propel itself; in other words that thing you use to get from point A to point B as a purely functional part of your life can be considered an automobile. However the word car, which comes from the 2000 year old Roman term “carro” looks at the four wheeled machine in a whole new light. Simply put the car is a much more personal item, it is the thing you get what you wash on Saturday morning, it is the vehicle in which you can make an entrance and let the world know something about yourself.
Chris talks about how the car is an avatar, an object of personal expression that the owner feels a strong relationship with and serves as a significant part of their identity.
Continued after the jump.