Original BMW logo
Many of us drive cars, ride motorcycles, wear clothes or watches every day. Many of us have no idea of the enriching history, detailed design or values behind the company origin of these brands. In this 12 part series, we take you on a journey through the birth of BMW and MINI and their attention to detail from the very beginning to stand among the world’s greatest brands.
Do you know what BMW means? BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG or Bavarian Motor Works. Successfully established as a world leader in the manufacturer of cars, motorcycles and engines (Yes they make engines of all sorts…instead of just cars and motorcycles). Its very name is synonymous with class, quality and elegance. Who doesn’t dream of owning and driving one of the sleek motor vehicles, the epitome of engineering elegance and driving style?
This is how it all began….
Karl Friedrich Rapp
Let’s go back to October 1913, where the embryonic beginnings of BMW are seen in the appearance of Karl Friedrich Rapp. Originally a Daimler engineer, Rapp established his company ‘Rapp-Motorenwerke’ on the site of an old bicycle factory near Munich. Unfortunately, Rapp’s attempts to manufacture aircraft engines were plagued with technical problems.
Close to Rapp’s factory, Gustav Otto, son of an inventor, was quietly establishing his own successful aircraft building business ‘Gustav Flugmaschinefabrik’
When Rapp’s company secured a major contract for aircraft engines from Austro-Hungary, they outsourced manufacturing to Otto, eventually absorbing the company to form the ‘Bayerische Flugzeug Werke’ or BFW (Bavarian Aircraft Works).
Meanwhile, Austrian engineer Franz Josef Popp, a director of Rapp’s business, was instrumental in securing vital military contracts which led to the official formation of Bayerische Moteren Werke GmbH – BMW – on 7 March 1916. BMW officially recognizes this date as the birth of the company today.
Realizing the business was severely undercapitalized Popp brought in Vienna financier, Camillo Castiglioni for support, ultimately forcing Rapp out.
BMW’s 1st Aircraft engine
In 1917, BMW produced its first aircraft engine, Type IIIa designed by Max Friz, their renowned Chief Engineer. This engine’s success led the company to become BMW AG (a public company) in 1918. 1918 itself would prove to be a pivotal year as economic disaster loomed for the German nation. At the end of World War I, the Versailles Armistice Treaty prohibited all German businesses from building aircraft engines.
BMW was forced to seek alternatives to survive……..(to be continued next week)
Look out for part 2 of 6, next week to this “BMW and MINI – Rediscover the Passion behind the Wheel” 6 part series.
What is your favorite Vintage BMW model? Leave a comment and let us know
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Our UN-official BMW & MINI Cooper Pledge:
As a BMW and Mini Cooper driver, it is our duty to recruit more to the cause. We refuse to deprive others of the pleasure of our superior driving experience. Because this pinnacle of achievement is the result of a century of science, design, passion, pain, sweat, toil and love to achieve perfection for us all – We are humbly grateful!
The contents of this article were obtained from multiple online sources.