Specifications  Road Tests  
bmw Cars BMW Cars bmw Cars

BMW cars were founded in 1916 as an aircraft-engine manufacturer in Munich as the Rapp Motor Company - the name was changed to BMW in 1917.  These achievements are reflected in the BMW emblem, symbolizing a rotating airplane propeller. Today, the emblem signifies a global company that produces hundreds of thousands of engines, motorcycles, and cars annually.

Yes its a BMW



Country of Origin : Germany
Established : 1916
First Car : 1929
UK Car.com
BMW make up-market quality cars like the 3 series  the 5 series and the 7 series.

But that's not to say they have always played solely in this market sector. Careful product badging has meant the more prolitarian products haven't reflected badly on the up-market image of the BMW brand but if there is money to be made BMW will produce.

In the fifties the motorcycle had lost its significance as a means of transport. People had finally come round to the idea of wanting a roof over their heads during their journeys. BMW reacted quickly and surprised the world in 1955 with an unusual vehicle concept. Although it was initially looked upon as something of a curiosity, the BMW Isetta with its one-cylinder motorcycle engine quickly established itself on the market. The cheap single door bubble car, based on the Italian Iso construction, became a much-loved top seller in the golden era of micro-cars. The sunroof which added expense to construction, was not actually a luxury item but an escape hatch should you crash it and be unable to open the front door

Production:1955 - 1962
Capacity:245 or 298 cc
Max. output:12 hp (9 kW) at 5,800 rpm or 13 hp
Top speed:85 km/h
Weight, unladen:360 kg

BMW 328Although BMW's current fame and reputation as one of the greatest automobile manufacturers can be mostly linked to models produced in the last two decades, the history of the marque stretches back almost 90 years and contains numerous achievements that have established it as a benchmark.

The origins of BMW trace back to 1913 when Karl Friedrich Rapp, a Bavarian who had been a well-known engineer in a German aircraft company, formed Rapp Motoren Werke in a suburb of Munich. The company specialized in airplane engines however Rapp found that they were problematic and suffered from excessive vibration. Nearby, Gustav Otto, also an airplane specialist, set up his own shop, Gustav Flugmaschinefabrik, building small aircraft.

Because of the faulty engines, Rapp Motoren Werke secured a contract with Austro-Daimler, who was unable to meet its demands, to build V12 Aero engines under license. The company expanded too quickly, however, and by 1916 Rapp resigned from the company because of financial troubles. In his place Franz Josef Popp and Max Friz, two Austrians, took over the company. In March that same year, Rapp Motoren Werke merged with Gustav Flugmaschinefabrik to form Bayersiche Flugzeungwerke. It was shortly afterwards renamed Bayersiche Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works), or BMW, forming the company we know today.

Baron von Richthofen, the "Red Baron", praised the BMW engines that powered the legendary Fokker Triplane of 1917. 

In 1917, BMW's first aircraft engine went into production, the 6 cylinder Type IIIa. In 1919, using an aircraft powered by its successor, the Type IV, Franz Zeno Diemer set an altitude record of 9,760 metres (32,013 ft). After the Treaty of Versailles was signed in the same year, prohibiting BMW from building aircraft engines, production switched to air brakes for railway cars. When BMW started once again to build aircraft engines in 1922, no fewer than 29 world records in aviation were set with them. The current BMW logo, introduced in 1920, was based on the circular design of an aircraft propeller.

The first BMW motorcycle, the R 32, went into production in 1923 at the newly constructed Eisenach factory next to the Munich airport of the day. The R 32 used a flat-twin engine transversely mounted in a double-tubular frame producing 8.5 horsepower at 3300 rpm. The 2-cylinder 494cc motorcycle could reach a top speed of 59 mph (95 km/h). BMW manufactured 3090 of them during its 3 year life span.

It was 1928 that made history in terms of the BMW cars. Produced at the Eisenbach factory, the Dixi 3/15 PS marked the beginning of BMW automobile production. It was built under license from Austin and was essentially the same model as the US Bantam and the Japanese Datsun. The first Dixis used an open roof and were powered by a 743cc 4 cylinder engine producing 15 horsepower. Top speed was in the neighbourhood of 50 mph (80 km/h). In 1929 a new improved version was launched, the DA2, which employed an all-steel body and 4-wheel brakes, and in 1930 the Dixi scored its first wins in motor racing. Total production: 18,976 units.

1932 was the year the BMW AM 4 (Ausfuhrung Munchen 4 Gange - Munich Version 4 Speeds) - a.k.a. BMW's first "real" car - went into production. The AM 4, also called the 3/20 PS, was the successor to the Dixi and the first production car to be built entirely in-house by BMW. The powerplant was a 782cc 4 cylinder unit which featured suspended valves and a double chain driving the camshafts, producing 20 horsepower at 3500 rpm and providing the saloon with a 50 mph top speed.

The next year marked the introduction of the 303 saloon and the first BMW inline-six cylinder power unit, a configuration that remains BMW's typical choice even in contemporary cars. The 303 was also the first BMW to use the twin-kidney shaped radiator grilles, another cur rent trademark. Using a welded tubular steel frame, independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering, the 303 was a benchmark in technological achievements. Its 1173cc engine provided 30 horsepower and a top speed of 56 mph (90 km/h).

3 years later, in 1936, the BMW 328 was introduced. It was the most popular and remains BMW's most famous pre-war sports car, the successor to the 315/1 (1934-36). The 328 was built mainly for motor sport, where it proved itself successful by winning the Mille Miglia in Italy in its class in 1938, but quickly became a popular road car as well. A curb weight of only 1830 lb was achieved through the use of an extra-light tubular space-frame and light alloy parts for the hood, doors and tail end. Using a 1971cc inline-6 cylinder engine with three carburettors that produced a healthy 80 horsepower at 5000 rpm, the 328 could reach a maximum speed of 93 mph (150 km/h). 462 units of this classic were produced in total.

In 1935 BMW entered the record books once again, this time on two wheels. Riding a streamlined 500cc compressor machine developing 108 hp and an amazing power-to-weigh ratio (282 lb curb weight), Ernst Henne set a world speed record for motorcycles of 173.7 mph (279.5 km/h) in 1937. It stood for nearly two decades.




During World War II, BMW made engines for the German air force and most famously for the high performance Focke Wulf FW190. It also made one of the first operational jet turbine engines. After the war, the company lost its car plant behind the 'Iron Curtain' to what became the rarely seen in the west "EMW"

After the Second World War, the company lay in ruins. Its factories had been destroyed or dismantled and a three-year ban on any production activities was imposed by the Allies in response to the production of aircraft engines and rockets by BMW during the War. The first post war model, the V8 equipped 501 luxury sedan produced in 1951 was a poor production choice for a country that was also devastated by the war. Demand was low and the 501 did not even com e close to meeting BMW's expectations.  BMW made kitchen and garden equipment before introducing a new, inexpensive motorcycle to the German market in 1948.

It was a totally different approach that started to bring BMW back on its feet. In 1955, the Isetta 250 was launched and participated very successfully in the mini-car era of the 1950's. It was built under license from the Italian manufacturer Iso and used a motorcycle engine and a single door at the front. The engine was a single cylinder 245cc unit producing 12 horsepower at 5800 rpm and a top speed of 53 mph (85 km/h). During its 7 year production run a total of 161,728 Isettas were built.

A couple of years later, with BMW still having no secure financial foothold, one of the most memorable models in its history was introduced. Launched in 1956, the BMW 507 quickly became famous. The light-alloy 2-door body-shell with a retractable soft top, designed by Alberecht Graf Foertz, has remained timeless as evidenced by the newly introduced Z8, which draws unmistakable clues and its overall shape from it. A large 3168cc V8 engine using dual down-draught carburettors powered the 507 and provided 150 horsepower at 5000rpm, enough for an impressive 124 mph top speed (200 km/h) but not enough to topple its main rival, the Mercedes 300SL. While only 252 examples of the instantly recognizable 507 were ever produced, it remains a symbol of BMW's struggles and ultimate triumphs during the fifties after the end of the War.

The next step in BMW's evolution and the predecessor to the cars we know today was launched in 1962. The 1500, which had been developed during the crisis of the '50s, was another of BMW's saviors. The excellent suspension and striking design for its time, employing a low waistline with a low-slung engine compartment and rear lid characterized the 1500. A 1499cc 4-cylinder engine producing 80 horsepower at 5700 rpm and providing a top speed of 92 mph (148 km/h) powered it. During its two year production run sales amounted to only 23,807 units; however between all of the models in its range (1500,1600,1800,2000) production totaled 334,165 cars. Based on these cars, the first generation 5 series, the E12, was launched 10 years later in 1972. The 3 series was introduced 3 years later and the 7 series 2 years after that, in 1977.


BMW's second car factory was built at Dingolfing in 1970. The central parts warehouse starts up in operations. The fourth works is built in landshut and the foundation stone is laid in Munich for the group's futuristic head office. The first inspection and test centre is opened near Munich. Pictured is the BMW head office in Munich, close to the Olympic Centre.

In 1990 BMW re-entered the aircraft engine manufacturing business after forming BMW Rolls-Royce GmbH jointly with Rolls Royce. In 1998, after extended talks concerning the sale of Rolls Royce, BMW officially bought the rights to the Rolls Royce name and logo from Volkswagen, with the transition expected to take place in 2003. 1994 brought about another purchase, as BMW acquired the Rover Group PLC. After heavy losses, the company was finally sold in 2000, with Rover being split up from Land Rover which was purchased by Ford. BMW held the rights to the new Mini and the hot-hatch goes on sale in early 2002.

Famous Models


Much speculation surrounded the BMW Motorsport Division in 1976 on the development of a GT race car for homologation in Group 4 and Group 5 racing. To qualify, BMW had to build at least 400 identical cars in 24 months. The car became known as the "Mid-Engined BMW M1 Project" (E26) and was started in 1976 and completed in 1980.

The Giugiaro-designed M1 was to be assembled by Lamborghini, but Lamborghini's poor financial situation and assembly delays caused BMW to move assembly to Baur, the German convertible builders. By the time production resumed, the homologation rules for international Group 5 racing had been changed. Since BMW had not met the required sales figures, the M1 went to the new Procar series instead. By the time BMW had sold enough cars, the M1 was no longer competitive for Group 5 racing. In 1981, David Cowart and Kenper Miller won the IMSA GTO category. The M1 Procars became largely  featured as a support series for most Formula 1 races throughout Europe until the was discontinued in 1981.

Production Notes:
(Provided by the M1 Register)
  • First car completed on July 10th, 1978
  • Last car completed on Feb.13th, 1981
  • All VINs have the same 14-digit prefix (WBS59910004301XXX) with individual 3-digit suffices.  The entire production range used numbers 001 to 460, with seven numbers never used (045 to 049, 428, 431) and two Group 5 race cars built without VINs.

Production Breakdown:

  • 1979 - 79 cars (41 road, 38 race)
  • 1980 - 188 cars (178 road, 10 race)
  • 1981 - 188 cars (180 road, 8 race)

Total: 455 cars (399 road, 56 race)
Includes two Group 5 cars that were produced without VIN's

M1 Specs

Cylinders: 6 in-line, mid mounted
Capacity: 3453cc
Power: 277hp @ 6500rpm
Torque: 243lb @ 5000rpm
Weight: 3175lb
Max Speed: 162mph
Acceleration: 0-100kmh(62mph) in 5.6sec
Fuel Consuption: 14.4mpg
Front Wheels/Tires: Alloy 7x16 205/55 VR16
Rear Wheels/Tires: Alloy 8x16 225/50 VR 16
Engine Mangement System: Kugelfischer-Bosh Mechanical injection


Some cars don't get the chance they deserve. The M1, BMW's first (and so far only) mid-engine production car, was one of them. Though conceived as a "homologation special" for the production-class sports-car competition, it was never actually campaigned by the factory, whose motorsport policy veered toward building Formula 1 engines soon after the M1 was finalised.

In the end, only 450 examples were built, almost all of them fully equipped road cars. needless to say, they are prized collector's items.

The M1 (which stands for mid-engine car, first type) originated in 1975 as BMW's counterattack against the Porsche 911s then cleaning up in various sports-racing series. Even so, the only part BMW actually contributed was the engine, a much modified 4-valves-per-cylinder version of its straight six, designated M-88.

Aside from the gullwing Turbo experiments of 1972, BMW had no experience with "mid engines," so it hired Lamborghini in Italy to design, develop and produce the M1. Giorgetto Giugiaro's Ital Design (then also involved with the De lorean) was contacted for bodywork, styling and construction. Ital was told to retain some "BMW identity," which explains the use of the familiar "twin-kidney" grille motif.



The Original M Car



The use of Italian specialist know-how should have worked brilliantly, but it didn't. Lamborghini welcomed contracts like this because it was on the financial brink at the time. As if by design, it slipped over the edge shortly after the M1 was locked up, leaving BMW no choice but to regroup. Accordingly, construction was farmed out to two other Italian firms: Marchesi, for the multi-tube chassis, and Trasformazione Italiana Resina, for the fiberglasS body. Final assembly was shifted to Baur, the German coach builder long associated with BMW.

But by then it was 1979 (the M1 debuted at the Paris Salon in October '78) and BMW was weary of a project that wasn't likely to generate the publicity (or victories) expected of it. The M1's sole moment in the competition spotlight came with the 1979-80 "Procar" series, a sort of European International Race of Champions staged before major Grand Prix. In it, F1 drivers competed against each other and a few non-GP pilots in identically prepared M1s, a sort of pre-race side show. It was almost as if BMW was ashamed of what it had done.

And more's the pity, because the M1 was a superb modern supercar by any standard. As in Lamborghini's Miura or Countach, the engine sat longitudinally behind a two-seat cockpit to drive the rear wheels via a 5-speed transaxle (by ZF). Suspension was naturally all-independent, with coil springs and twin A-arms at each corner. Brakes were big disks all around, while massive 16-inch diameter wheels and tires were wider at the rear than at the front, as is common in tail-heavy high-performers. The result of all this were vice-free handling, very high cornering grip, and excellent stopping power.

That's hardly surprising when you consider that the M1 was developed in three versions: a 277-horsepower road car, built mainly to satisfy the 400-unit homologation minimum; a Group 4 racer with 470 bhp and suitable body and chassis modifications; and a Group 5 car with about 850 bhp from a reduced-capacity (3.2-litre) turbo-charged engine (the others had normally aspirated 3.5-liter power-plants). The Group 4 version was the one run in Procar.

"Production" M1s were pretty plush, their comprehensive equipment running to air conditioning and full carpeting. They were-and are-as nice on the road as any Ferrari Boxer and probably better built. The highly reliable 24-valve M-88 engine is another plus for would be owners. In fact, this is pretty young power unit with a lot of development potential as yet unexplored. As proof, a revised rendition powered the limited-production M5 saloon and M635CSi/M6 coupes built by BMW's Motorsport division.

The tragedy of the M1 is that this great car was abandoned before it could prove itself.

The One thing BMW gained from the M1 program was the "M" badge perhaps the expense was worth it after all


First produced in 1986, the 3 Series E30 M3 was the product of a factory effort to participate in German Touring Car racing. The primary opponent was the Mercedes 190 class. Both companies recognized the great interest in racing and the positive effects of racing on auto sales.

In order to compete in the European Touring Car Championships, BMW had to produce a minimum of 500 units a year. The race car had to have the same basic engine, intake, and aerodynamics as the production model. The suspension had to fit to stock pick up points, and while larger wheels were allowed, they had to fit within the stock wings. 

E30 M3 racer

Unlike other E30 models, the E30 M3 is easily distinguished by its oversized wheel wheels. These larger wheel wells were designed to handle 10" wide racing rims. Another feature was a slightly larger rear window to improve aerodynamics.

The power plant is high-performance 4-cylinder, a direct descendent of the M10 F-1 powerplant. The engine has a forged crank, a four valve head and strengthened internals, with 2.3 liters and 195 hp with a catalytic converter and 200 hp without. 

The original E30 M3 was followed by a variety of Evolution models and some special editions. The highlight of the Evolution models was the 1990 Evo III, featuring a 2.5 liter engine and 238 hp.

The E30 M3 Cabriolet version was produced from 1988 to 1991. The E30 M3 Cabriolets were all hand built on BMW Motorsport GmbH's production line at Garching in Munich. Only 786 models were made.

From 1987 to 1990, only the 195 hp model (with a catalytic converter) was officially imported into the USA.

Model Specifications


16 valve inline 4


152.2 Cu.in.


195 bhp


170 ft/lbs.


2733 lbs.


14.02 lbs./hp 


171.1 in.


66.1 in.


53.9 in.


101.0 in.

Top Speed:


Speed (0-50 mph):

5.5 sec

To improve the M3's performance on the track, BMW introduced new versions on an annual basis. 

BMW actually produced 13 different versions of the E30 M3. Some of the models were in very limited production.

The E30 M3 was replaced by the E36 M3.



The E28 M5 was a 4 door super saloon equipped with the powerful 286 HP (210kW) four valve per cylinder six cylinder engine originally developed for the mid-engined M1 super-car and featured in the M6 coupé. 

The BMW M5 E28 model was first shown at the Automobilsalon in Amsterdam.

Only 2180 units were ever built,  They were all hand assembled by BMW Motorsport.

The M5 was capable of a 245 km/h (155 mph) top speed figure, higher than any other series production 4-door at the time.

From a quick glance, the car looked from the outside just like a 520i with wider wheels. 

A review commented, "the M5 is capable of driving at top speed without making the driver feel nervous, with commendable straight line stability, flat and unperturbed even on fast autobahns curves which wouldn't be considered as such by most cars". 

The engine is a water cooled in-line six cylinder engine with seven main bearings. It had chain-driven double overhead camshafts with four valves per cylinder, a thermostatically controlled electrical radiator fan, a Bosch Motronic electronically controlled ignition and fuel injection. The M5 had rear wheel drive,  5 speed gearbox, and a hydraulically operated single dry plate clutch. It has an independent Mac Pherson strut front suspension with anti-roll bar and an independent trailing arm rear suspension with anti-roll bar.

Fantastic as the first M5 was check out the engine description for the 2003 M5 V8

The V-8's aluminum cylinder block shares the M62's basic architecture (including long-lasting, weight-saving silicon-impregnated cylinder walls) but is a specific casting with 94.0-mm cylinders vs. the M62's 92.0. The stroke is increased from 82.7 mm to 89.0 mm. This results in a displacement of 4941 cc, or approximately 5 liters. "Above all, we wanted to create an abundant torque curve," says BMW M engineer Wolfgang Kreinhšfner modestly - and if that is the goal, to paraphrase what the hot-rodders used to say, "there's no substitute for liters." The cylinder centers are 98.0 mm apart, leaving only 4 mm of block surface between cylinders. For effective sealing with this tight cylinder spacing, BMW M engineers developed new 3-layer steel head gaskets.

Breathing is of course a top priority; BMW M spared no expense in developing the S62's induction system.

Air is taken in at two points behind the front bumper, passes through two intake silencers and two hot-film air-mass meters, and then flows into the voluminous carbon-fiber plenum atop the engine. From there, air courses through 230-mm intake runners (including the throttle housings) to the individual cylinders. The entire assembly of plenum and runners is attached to the throttle housings via a rubber/metal flange (one per bank) that acoustically and thermally de-couples the plenum from the engine itself.

Admission of air to the cylinders is not through "a throttle," but through eight individual throttle butterflies, one for each cylinder. Individual throttles are a very costly feature, reserved for the highest-performance engines - including racing power-plants. Previous large M 6-cylinder engines, powering M1, M5 and M6 models, all had this feature; but the S62 is the first BMW engine with electronically actuated individual throttles. Positioned much nearer the cylinders than a single throttle can be, these throttles eliminate a "lag time" inherent in airflow and allow the engine to react much more quickly to throttle movements.

Each throttle operates in its own housing, mounted directly at the intake ports. Via the accelerator pedal and its two potentiometers, the driver gives the commands. In turn, these commands are processed by the engine control module and received by a DC servo motor between the cylinder banks. In turn, through a tiny gearbox, this motor drives a shaft that drives a link to each bank to rotate the four throttles of that bank.

These two links rotate the two throttle shafts, connecting via ball joints at cylinders 3 and 6. From these points, the other three throttles (each 50 mm in diameter) of each bank are opened and closed. The servo motor reacts to any pedal movement in a lightning-fast 120 milliseconds, so the driver perceives no lag time; via the M Driving Dynamics Control system, there are two settings for throttle response: Normal and quicker Sport.

The throttles of cylinders 4 and 8 also have their own feedback potentiometers to monitor the throttles' operation. If a fault is recognized, the system switches to one of four "limp-home" modes that can allow operation at up to 62 mph.

The S62 is BMW's first V-8 engine equipped with Double VANOS, a system that steplessly varies the timing of both intake and exhaust valves on both cylinder banks.

Current BMW 2.5 and 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engines also have the Double system; current "regular" V-8s have a Single VANOS system that steplessly varies intake-valve timing. In addition to enhanced low to medium-speed torque, the advantages of VANOS include:

As on other BMW engines, the VANOS mechanisms are at the front of the cylinder heads. The 1450 psi of hydraulic pressure used to actuate VANOS is provided by dedicated oil pumps, one per cylinder head. Valve timing is varied over a range of 60o in terms of crankshaft rotation, a wider adjustment range than that of other BMW engines.

The S62 has its own unique Motronic control system, designated MSS 52, which oversees:

 For optimum power output, the engineers designed specifically shaped cutouts in the piston crowns for the intake and exhaust valves. This requires a different piston design for each cylinder bank, rather than the usual identical design for all pistons. Via two separate oil passages in the crankcase, the pistons are oil-cooled. The compression ratio is 11.0:1, a full point higher than for the 4.4-liter V-8; this too contributes to the engine's high power and torque output.

Oil-cooled pistons were designed for the two cylinder banks

For optimum power output, the engineers designed specifically shaped cutouts in the piston crowns for the intake and exhaust valves. This requires a different piston design for each cylinder bank, rather than the usual identical design for all pistons. Via two separate oil passages in the crankcase, the pistons are oil-cooled. The compression ratio is 11.0:1, a full point higher than for the 4.4-liter V-8; this too contributes to the engine's high power and torque output.

G-sensitive lubrication system

Given the 45 degree cant of the cylinder banks and the M5's cornering capability of over 1g, natural return of oil to the sump might have been inadequate during extreme cornering. Thus the M engineers devised a unique system to ensure effective engine lubrication at all times.

In addition to the usual pressure pump, there are two scavenging pumps, one for each cylinder bank. In straight-ahead driving, these pumps pick up oil from the rear of the engine and return it to the sump. In hard cornering (0.9g or more), the Dynamic Stability Control system's lateral-g sensor switches magnetic valves to different pickup points, at the outer side of each head and the oil pan. This system remains active even if the driver switches off the DSC.

The oil level and temperature are monitored by a thermal sensor; a warning appears in the Check Control display if the level falls low, and an oil-temperature gauge is included in the tachometer face. Oil is cooled by a coolant-oil heat exchanger, the first ever used on a gasoline engine.

Modified cylinder heads

The V8's two cylinder heads are modified to include super-efficient crossflow coolant flow and enlarged intake ports. Other significant features of the cylinder heads include:

Specific cooling system

An all-new water pump, capable of pumping 380 liters per minute, was developed to meet the engine's heightened thermal needs.

Special camshaft drive

In place of the M62 engine's simplex roller chain driving both intake camshafts, the S62 employs a heavier-duty duplex chain. As in the M62, the exhaust camshafts are driven from the intake camshafts via simplex chains.

Low-back-pressure exhaust system

Exiting the engine through double-wall stainless-steel exhaust headers (as on the M62 engine), exhaust gases then flow through one catalytic converter per cylinder bank. There are four oxygen sensors: two ahead of the converters, two behind. A pressure-equalizer passage connects the two exhaust streams behind the converters, enhancing low-speed torque and contributing to the engine's wonderful exhaust sound. Aft of the catalytic converters, the full dual exhaust system includes two mufflers and two resonators and ends in four glistening stainless-steel outlets.

Variable tachometer warning zone

This innovation reminds drivers that a cold engine - especially a high-performance one - should be treated with care. When the engine is first started, the tachometer's warning zone (indicated by orange LEDs) begins at 4000 rpm. As the engine warms, LEDs are extinguished to lift the limit in increments of 500 rpm until the warning field begins at its normal 6500 rpm. The actual rpm limit is 7000.





Keywords:UKCAR, BMW,History,Motoring,Cars

Contents:BMW Motors History