Published on March 7th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


BMW Celebrates 100 Years Today

BMW celebrates a 100 years of its existence. The ‘BMW’ acronym stands for Bayerische Motorenwenke if you did not this. The company was established exactly a century ago and it has gone from engines, to aeroplanes, to motorcycles to cars and more. Let’s look back at some of the best BMW offered over the last 100 years.


Not everybody knows that BMW started as a manufacturer of aircraft engines. In October 1913 Karl Friedrich Rapp established “Rapp-Motorenwerke” in a former bicycle factory near Munich. Rapp was an engineer and “Rapp-Motorenwerke” was set up as a subsidiary of “Flugwerk”, an airplane maker. He started manufacturing his own aircraft engines but unfortunately they suffered from problems with vibrations.


In 1917, BMW’s first aircraft engine, the Type IIIa went into production. It is a water-cooled six-cylinder inline engine, it featured a unique “high-altitude carburetor” developed by chief engineer Max Friz that allowed it to develop full power at altitude. Max Friz was a grand engineering mind who would dominate BMW’s product development culture right into the 1960’s.


Popp convinced the German government to buy the BMW IIIa engine. In 1918 this engine powered a biplane to 5,000 meters altitude in just 29 minutes. It was an impressive performance in the BMW history, one that led to strong demand for BMW engines.


“Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH” becomes BMW AG (The German term Aktiengesellschaft means a corporation that is limited by shares, i.e., owned by shareholders. It may be traded on the stock market. The term is used in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Goodyear 650x85(DSF)

In 1921 BMW started building motorcycle engines. In 1920, Martin Stolle and Max Friz designed the M2 B 15 engine for the “Victoria” motorcycle from Nürnberg. This was the first BMW motorcycle engine and it was produced between 1920 and 1922. BMW’s first motorized bicycle was called “Flink” and saw the light in 1921. They were powered by a Kurier two stroke engine. 1922 was another milestone in BMW history. The first BMW factory is built on Neulerchenfeldstrasse, the site of Otto’s old aircraft factory near the current day Olympic complex in Munich.


1928 marks the beginning in terms of the BMW car. BMW buys the car factory at Eisenach/Thuringia and with it the license to build a small car called the Dixi 3/15. The BMW Dixi was the competition for the Austin 7. The BMW Dixi DA/1 (DA standing for Deutsche Ausfuhrung) was essentially the German version. The first Dixis used an open roof and were powered by a 743cc 4 cylinder engine producing 15 horsepower. Top speed was in the neighborhood of 50 mph (80 km/h). The Dixi 3/15 PS was built under license from Austin and was essentially the same model as the US Bantam and the Japanese Datsun. In 1929 a new improved version was launched, the DA/2, which employed an all-steel body and 4-wheel brakes, and in 1930 the Dixi scored its first wins in motor racing. Total production was 18,976 units.


March 7, 1916 is the date that went down in the history of BMW, marking the birth of the now world-famous brand that went a long way to build Germany’s reputation in the world’s automotive industry.

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