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Manufacturers / Germany / BMW


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BMW vehicles


1920


Dixi
BMW Dixi DA 1  (1928)

During World War I, BMW aircraft engines founded a tradition of excellence and reliability. It was Baron von Richthofen, the "Red Baron", who praised the BMW engines that powered the legendary Fokker Triplane of 1917. In 1919 an aircraft fitted with a BMW engine gained the world altitude record. Later, BMW engines powered Dornier flying boats which flew all over the world.

It was in 1923 that BMW built its first motorcycle, and in 1928 its first motor car, a version of the Austin Seven built under licence.

In the early thirties, BMW developed a light 6 cylinder engine which powered the classic 328 sports cars. These cars dominated their class in the European sporting arena and claimed the record as the first 2 litre production car to average 100 miles in the hour.

Dixi
BMW Dixi DA 2 concept (1929)

During World War II, BMW made engines for the German air force and most famously for the high performance Focke Wulf FW190. It also made one of the first operational jet turbine engines. After the war, the company lost its car plant behind the 'Iron Curtain' but continued operations with its Munich plant. In post-war Europe, BMW made both saloons and sports cars as well as the Isetta "Bubble" car, reflecting post-war frugality and petrol shortage due to the Suez Crisis.


1960


3200
BMW 3200 CS concept (1961)

The 1960s saw the introduction of the 'Neue Klass' 1500 and the 02 Series, the forebear of the 3 Series, and created the market for small performance saloons. The 1970s brought further growth with the 3, 5, 6, and 7 Series. This decade saw the emergence of BMW as a serious competitor to the established makes, especially Mercedes Benz.

During the 60s and 70s, BMW cars dominated touring car races in Europe and the USA, and motorsport was seen as a key factor in proving and promoting BMW's technical superiority.


1990


E31
BMW E31 B12 concept (1990)

In January 1987, BMW introduced a new class of car, the BMW 7 Series. With an aerodynamic luxury body, the 7 Series was hailed by the independent press as a car which set new standards for its class. This car was followed by the executive class 5 Series, which again was highly praised as the best car in its class. The 5 Series range was joined by the BMW Motorsport M5 and Touring body style, engineered with the world's first five-speed automatic gearbox.

BMW's commitment to innovative engineering has led to a profusion of specialist models and concept vehicles. In 1990 an entirely new BMW coupe, the 850i , was introduced, featuring BMW's 12 cylinder engine, pop-up headlights, a new six-speed gearbox, a self-steering rear suspension system, multiplex electronics and a low 0.29 drag factor.

The range was completed in 1991 by the introduction of the new 3 Series which has been the most successful BMW model series of all time.

RLE
BMW RLE Z1 concept (1990)

1994 saw the launch of the new generation 7 Series setting international standards for ride comfort, safety and equipment. New technology creates new opportunities and the BMW Navigation System was introduced on BMW's complete range of 7 and 5 Series models. The navigation system functions by using GPS (global positioning satellite) technology.

The fourth generation 5 Series was introduced in 1996 - an all-new car comprising 12,571 new components, many of which bring innovation and novelty to the executive car sector. The Z3 roadster was also launched in this year. With its classic styling, long hood, short rear and low seating position, demand was so strong that BMW moved production of the 318i from Spartanburg to Germany to leave greater production capacity. In 1998, February saw two world premieres in Geneva: BMW preserved the new 3 Series saloon and the M5 for the first time. The 530d and 730d with the new 3 litre, six cylinder diesel engine were also introduced. Then in 1999, touring and coupe models were added as further variants to the already successful BMW 3 Series. A new market segment was opened at the end of the 20th Century for the BMW brand with the introduction of the BMW X5 Sports Activity vehicle.



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