BMW - Used Car History Car Reviews and Auto Consumer Guide on Free VIN Check , Kelley Blue Book , VIN number , AutoCheck Guide, auto insurance , auto warranty , Lemon Car Check , Kelley Blue Book value, and used car history

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BMW Car Design History - Automobile, motorcycle, and engine manufacturer

BMW resumed automobile production after the war in the 1950s with the 501, a black limousine that looked like a German version of prewar American models. This was a somewhat underpowered streamlined car with sumptuous curves and dramatic front fenders that were prolonged diagonally as far as the rear wheels. It was followed by Germany's first eight-cylinder car, the 502, that developed nearly 120 horsepower, twice as much as the previous model. But it was never popular among the company executives at whom it was aimed. At the other end of the spectrum was the Isetta, a rounded three-wheeler mini-car designed by the Italian motorcycle manufacturer Iso. The two-seater car was just over seven feet (2.25 m) long, and with its convexed windows it looked like an airplane cockpit on wheels. The steering wheel and instrument panel swing aside to make it possible to enter through a door at the front. Some 160,000 of these original little cars were sold, making it one of the most successful small cars of the post war era. But the follow-up model flopped, and BMW experienced serious problems. As a result, BMW was nearly taken over by Mercedes-Benz.

The company was founded during the First World War and specialized in the production of airplane engines; hence its logo, which represents a spinning airplane propeller in Bavarian blue and white. The BMW car marque came into existence at the end of the 1920s when it acquired the Eisenach car factory. The company began to develop its own models in the early 1930s, with models such as the 303 that already sported the characteristic divided radiator grill. The decade saw a whole new generation of models whose streamlined forms marked the recognition of speed as an objective. From then on BMW launched a series of sedans coupes and cabriolets in quick succession, many of which won races, thus establishing BMW's reputation as sports car manufacturer. Among them was the legendary 328, which won everything there was to win in its category between 1936 and 1940. The fast, low-slung little car with its long nose, organic front fenders, and stylized radiator was a great advertisement for BMW. The 1940 racing version had a futuristic body free of sharp edges and corners, made from a special alloy of aluminum and magnesium.

After the war, the car plant was moved to Munich and in the mid-1950s BMW tried to revive its glorious past with the 507 sports car. This light yet muscular model was the work of industrial designer Albrecht Graf Goertz, who lived in the United States. Although the press was full of praise and many critics declared it the most beautiful BMW ever made, only 252 were sold. The company was reasonably successful in increasing its foothold in the small car market. The car that marked the turning point at the beginning of the 1960s was the BMW 1500. Its stylist, Wilhelm Hofmeister, gave this model a striking profile and some distinctive features that contributed enduringly to the company's image, including details such as the shaped side panels with decorative trim running along the length of the car. Great care was taken to reduce air resistance, for instance by integrating the door handles and direction indicators into the waist molding. The most obvious innovation was the pointed, shark-like nose with its shrunken kidney-shaped radiator that looked like a pair of nostrils. The functional, angular design was typical of the period, creating a lively impression. While its appearance did not suggest an outstanding maximum speed, the compact 1500 could achieve 93 miles per hour (150 kilometers per hour), remarkable for the time. So BMW developed into a maker associated with aggressiveness, as well as quality.

The company was already preparing to go high end in the 1960s, and during the 1970s the chief designer Claus Luthe, creator of the wedge shape, raised the BMW image sufficiently to justify substantially higher prices. The company launched the 3 series, its most successful range to date, and the 7 series, which lifted BMW into the luxury class on a par with Mercedes. The BMW has always been more compact and dynamic than its rival in Stuttgart, and aesthetic experiments have been avoided as much as possible. This policy has ensured BMW's reputation as a luxury manufacturer, synonymous with a particular lifestyle, in the same way as an Armani suit or Bang & Olufsen stereo equipment have done. In the mid-1990s, BMW and its American chief designer Chris Bangle revived the company's great, yet neglected, sports car tradition with the Z3 roadster.

BMW had recently bought the British car manufacturer Rover, thus acquiring a number of design legends such as the Mini, the MG sports car, and the Land Rover.

BMW Car History

Bayrische Motoren Werke AG, Munich

1916 Founded in Munich as aircraft engine maker
1919 aviation pioneer Franz Zeno Diemer climbs to 32,000 feet (9,760 meters) in his BMW-powered open aircraft
1923 motorcycle production
1928 takeover of Eisenach automobile factory (licensed production)
1933 develops its own first private car, twin-kidney-shaped radiator grille
1937 Ernst Henne achieves 173 mph (179km/h) world speed record on
1945 loss of Eisenach works, private car production starts in Munich (from 1951)
1956 makes loss (1959 unsuccessful takeover bid by Mercedes)
1966 takeover of automobile glass manufacturer
1970 building of the Central "Four-cylinder" in Munich (until 1972)
1983 Nelson Piquet Formula I World Champion with BMW
1987 opens research and development center in Munich
1990 BMW-Rolls-Royce-GmbH founded (with rights to the Rolls-Royce name)
1994 takeover of British automobile manufacturer Rover, including Mini, MG and Land Rover marques
1995 James Bond drives BMW Z3 in Golden Eye

BMW Car Models History

1923 R 32 motorbike
1928 Dixi small cars (under license)
1931 BMW engines used in Ju 52 transport aircraft
1933 BMW 303 sedan
1936 328 sports car (1940 competition version)
1951 501 and 502 luxury sedan
1955 Isetta bubble car (under license)

507 sports car

1962 BMW 700 small sedan; BMW 1500 sedan

start of 5-series with 520 sedan

start of 3-series with 318 and 320 sedans

1977 start of 7-series
1979 M1 sports car
1987 BMW Z1 sports car
1989 BMW 850 CSi coupe
1995 Z3 Roadster
1999 Z8 Roadster


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