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A Brief history of BMW

BMW can trace its history all the way back to 1913, when a Bavarian named Karl Rapp started an aircraft-engine shop in Munich named Rapp Motoren Werke. 1916 saw Rapp Motoren Werke securing a contract to supply a large number of V12 aero engines to Austro-Daimler, as a result, Rapp needed to find a backer to finance the companies expansion and the Bayerische Motoren Werke – BMW as we know it – was formed. Unfortunately BMW expanded too quickly and financial difficulties followed leading to Rapp resigning and Franz Josef Popp – a leading industrial tycoon – who laid the foundations for the BMW company that is known today.

For the next few years BMW concentrated on the manufacture of aircraft engines until in 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles restrictions were placed on German companies manufacturing parts for the aero industry, as a result, BMW diversified to manufacture components for the rail industry. 1923 saw BMW finally make their first move into the automotive industry with the introduction of the R32, a motorcycle that would go on to hold motorcycle world speed records throughout the 1930’s.

Buoyed by this success, BMW purchased a small car manufacturer (the Eisenach Vehicle Factory) in 1928 and by the 1930’s had begun production of sports and touring cars. The culmination was the BMW 328 roadster, a car that has been named one of 25 finalists for Car of the Century by a worldwide panel of automotive journalists.

The Second World War ending saw BMW’s main factories being dismantled by the allies and diversification was once again the name of the game, a brief foray into kitchen and garden equipment followed, with the introduction of a new motorcycle in 1948. The 1950’s saw a move back into the car market, although with no marked success, however with a change of direction that saw BMW concentrating on sports sedans and compact touring cars, the 1960’s saw a an increase in sales that meant BMW was beginning to compete with its rival Mercedes – Benz. Sales peaked in 1986, but with the collapse of the Berlin Wall a whole new marketplace opened up and BMW capitalised and as a result outsold Mercedes for the first time in 1992.

BMW are now regarded as one of the premium car manufacturers with a combination of outstanding engineering and a fantastic build quality the Bayerische Motoren Werke has come a long way since its humble beginnings all those years ago.


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