On the Monday that just passed – Monday, March 7 – it was BMW’s 100th birthday. BMW didn’t start out the way you may think. Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG was established on March 7, 1916. Translated to English, that’s “Bavarian Plane Manufacturing AG”. Yes, planes were first…but that’s BFw. (…and yes, that’s a lower-case ‘w’ even if some use the name BFW.) Back in 1916, BFw wasn’t BMW just yet. So, when did the BMW we know today take off?
It’s a long convergent story but I’ll keep it brief. Another company, aircraft engine manufacturer Rapp-Motorenwerke, was renamed Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH in July of 1917. By October of 1917, BMW GmbH created the BMW logo we see today.
By 1919, German companies were suffering after World War I. The Treaty of Versailles shut down BMW’s ability to make aircraft engines. How would BMW survive? Building brakes for the Bavarian Railroad was one lifeline. The next was Camillo Casitglioni. In 1922, not only did he buy the BMW name, the staff and the aircraft engine specs but he also bought BFw for their manufacturing facilities. So Rapp became BMW GmbH, then Casitglioni bought Rapp and BFw to form BMW AG. So if BMW was formed in 1922, why is 2016 the 100th birthday? BMW, by German law, was permitted to use BFw’s date of origin as its own since it was part of the blended company.
In 1928, BMW set focus on automobiles with the purchase of the Eisenach automobile plant. Using the Austin Seven as the platform, the Dixi 3/15 PS was produced from 1927 to 1929. Those years brought product refinement and in 1929, the BMW 3/15 PS DA 2 was produced. Imagine that today people give BMW fits about nomenclature. In 1936, the landmark BMW 328 was produced. [You can see a 1937 BMW 328 in ‘Closing Shots’, with Dr. Simeone behind the wheel, during Simeone Museum’s Demo Day on November 14, 2015.]
Today, the BMW Car Club of America (BMW CCA) is well-known for their strong regional clubs. I joined the National Capital Chapter 6 months before buying my ’09 BMW 335i X Drive M Sport from BMW of Towson. Let’s say that I had an idea I’d be buying a BMW. The purchase and joining the club were excellent decisions. Along the way, I have met very special people and have formed many friendships. Here’s a list of the regional BMW CCA Chapters. Here’s a belated happy birthday to BMW! See you…alongside those BMWs…down the road!