Bayerische Motoren Werke, commonly known as BMW or BMW AG, is a German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company established on March 7, 1916 as Bayerische Flugzeug Werke. The company started off making airplane engines, have a HQ in the shape of 4 pistons and well read below for more BMW facts.
1. BMW was initially named as Rapp Motor
During WW1 the demand for aircraft engines was high, and it was time when Rapp Motor combined forces with Prussia and Austro-Hungary to produce 25 large V12 aircraft engines. Rapp Motoren Werke had problems with the reliability of the engines so they began buying four-cylinder water-cooled aircraft engines from the Gustav Otto factory. However soon after Otto's company 'Gustav Flugmaschinefabrik' merged with 'Rapp-Motorenwerke' and formed 'Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke' (BFW), which translates to Bavarian Aircraft Works.
2. BMW Logo Design
The blue and white colors of the BMW logo are the exact colors of the national state of Bavaria. However it is only coincidence that the logo resembles a propeller which was used in 1929 by the marketing team.
3. The first car BMW produced was not their initial choice
After WWI, any companies residing in Germany were banned from manufacturing and producing engines for warplanes. This was there main source of cash flow and had to come up with something besides warplanes. So they went to develop in other sectors. This is when their first 15hp car, the BMW Dixi 3/15 evolved. It was actually based on an Austin (a British manufacture).
4. BMW almost became Mercedes
On December 9, 1959 BMW was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Mercedes attempted to takeover. It was towards the end of the agreement before it was finalized that BMW managed to revived itself back onto its wheels thanks to minor shareholders, and Herbert Quandt . And the rivalry between the two major German motor companies has been ongoing since.
5. BMW's world headquarters is designed to resemble a four cylinder engine
The BMW Headquarters in Munich was designed by Karl Schwanzer an Austrian architecture professor designed a building to resemble a four cylinder engine. This was to commemorate the importance that the engine was to BMW heritage. He also was involved in the futuristic building known as the salad bowl which acts as the BMW museum.
6. BMW and Lamborghini
In the late 1970s, Lamborghini and BMW entered an agreement to build a production racing car. Back then named the E26 and was designed by Giugiaro and his Ital Design staff. For financial reasons, Lamborghini was forced to end the contract and lead BMW to continue the project on their own, thus creating the first M car, and built the BMW M1.
7. BMW won Formula 1 with a 20-year-old engine design
BMW's M10 four cylinder engine was first introduced in 1962 with 75 hp. By 1983 it was still being used, even in F1 were they managed to get 1400 hp out of it for Nelson Piquet world driver's championship win that year.
8. The BMW 507 was a failure in its time
Only 252 BMW 507 were produced as the car ended up being too expensive, resulting heavy losses for BMW and almost getting them bankrupt in 1959. Because of this any examples of the BMW 507 fetch a really high price tag in today's market.
9. BMW classic division
In 2010 BMW acquired its old motorcycle factory in Munich (Moonsacher Strasse) to build BMW Classic parts where they will provide new old parts for BMW Classic vehicles. This is to support enthusiasts to keep their classics on the race track or on the streets.
10. They also design airplane and train interiors
Yes BMW design is also involved in this sector, just to show you the thought and detail that is gone into BMW cars.
11. The BMW Z1
The original Z in Z1 stood for Zukunft (German for future) and was only availible in limited numbers in Europe. The unique feature of the Z1 is the doors that retract vertically down into the car's body. The Kaiser Darrin was the first car to have retractable doors, they slid forward into the front fenders. If the car will pass today's side impact safety standards is another question.
12. The grown-up Lego set
You can take the chassis of a BMW E30 from the 1980s, take the front suspension and brakes from a E36, bolt on the brakes from an E46 M3, the fenders of a 2002 Turbo, the steering rack of a Z3, and seats/wheels from any BMW with the 5x120 stud pattern.