History[edit | edit source]
BMW began life in 1916 as an aircraft engine manufacturer (originally called "Bavarian Aircraft Works"), although the name was changed to BMW ("Bavarian Motor Works") only one year later. The company logo represents a white propeller against a blue sky. Thus, the high performance associated with BMW engines has its origin in the necessity to minimize weight in an aircraft. BMW's first car was a vehicle produced by the Dixi automobile works which BMW bought in 1928.
BMW produced its first in-house design in 1933, the BMW 303. Closing out the 30s, BMW was making the 328, which featured an engine with a light alloy head, V-type overhead values and hemi-style combustion chambers.
BMW's history as a major manufacturer of performance cars was eclipsed by the destruction of the Munich plant in World War II. The '50s were dominated by extremes — the large 501, and the tiny Isetta. Neither brought much profit to the company.
Dr. Herbert Quant invested quite heavily in the company in 1959 to save it from a sale of assets. The 1500 was introduced in the tradition of the previous models, in 1961. These 4-cylinder sports sedans has become recognized for their low displacement, high output, and fuel efficient engine and light and compact design. The introduction of the 530i, in 1975, BMW began to be recognized for their luxury-performance cars as well as their sports sedans.