FOUNDED BY MOTOR ENTHUSIASTS FOR MOTOR ENTHUSIASTS
Finance your BMW through Harrington to unlock the full breadth of this famous brand’s range. Sports performance is available across the range, whether petrol or electric-powered. The new M4 Series range, particularly the M4 CSL, was met with wide acclaim. The interiors of this new generation of Beemers is as you’d expect, with premium (and increasingly sustainable) materials throughout the cabin, excellent driver-interface and in-car entertainment, and pinpoint ergonomics.
However, if you are looking for Range Rover-rivalling levels of opulence and interior technology, look no further than the brand new all-electric i7 luxury saloon. It features an optional 31.3 inch screen for the rear passengers, complete with Amazon Fire TV built-in. Altogether, BMW are pursuing not only a clearly defined vision of their future, but the future of motoring for us all.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF BMW
‘Bayerische Motoren Werke’ (AG), in case you were wondering. The original name can be traced back to 1913, when Bayerische Motoren Werke was founded by Karl Rapp. This company was acquired by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke in 1922, which then adopted the BMW moniker later the same year.
As the Flugzeugwerke name suggests, BMW’s first products were for the rapidly growing aviation industry, producing aircraft engines. Post-WWI, BMW continued with motorcycle engines, railway parts, household bits and bobs and some farm equipment, but eventually produced its first vehicle – the BMW R32 motorbike, in 1923.
It finally became a maker of cars in 1928 with the purchase of Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach, which built Austin Sevens under licence, badged as Dixi. Indeed, the first car to carry a BMW badge was a rebadged Dixi called the BMW 3/15. BMW expanded its range into sports and luxury cars throughout the 1930s – while still producing motorbikes and aircraft engines.
As with many other car manufacturers, during WWII, BMW focused production on aircraft engines. In the wake of the war, BMW was banned from production of cars or aircraft parts, so the company reverted to making kitchen equipment – pots and pans – and bicycles.
Motorbike production restarted in 1948, with car production following in 1952. First off the line was the BMW 501 luxury saloon, which was joined by the far cheaper Isetta microcar in 1955. However, by 1959 the company was in serious financial trouble – margins on the microcars were tight, and not enough people had the disposable income to spend on a luxury car.
But for a large investment by brothers Herbert and Harald Quandt – sons of controversial industrialist, Gunther Quandt – BMW could easily have ended up as part of Daimler-Benz. Regardless, the financial injection enabled the launch of the little BMW 700, which was very successful and supported the company’s recovery.
BMW’s logo is one of the most recognisable marques on the road. But what does it represent? The black ring, bearing the BMW name, was retained from Karl Rapp’s original logo (although the centrepiece was a silhouette of a horse’s head, much like a Knight chess piece).
The current centrepiece of four quadrants alternating between azure (blue) and argent (white) is actually a reference to the coat of arms and flag of ‘The Free State of Bavaria’, derived from the arms of the House of Wittelsback. It is not, as is often quoted, a representation of a spinning propellor. This misunderstanding grew from a depiction in a 1927 advertisement, that used the BMW emblem overlaid on a spinning propellor.
The 1960s was the decade in which BMW really carved a name for itself as a sports car maker. The range grew with sporty coupes, compact saloons and luxury saloon models, giving birth to the series that BMW is famous for today; the 5 Series introduced in 1972, the 3 Series in ’75, the 6 Series in ’76 and the 7 Series in 1978.
1978 was also the year in which BMW launched its first ‘M’ car – a mid-engined supercar. This was followed by the M5 in 1984 and the M3 in ’86.
In 1994, BMW bought the Rover Group. Perhaps not surprisingly, considering the gulf between the levels of quality the two brands were known for, the acquisition was not successful, and BMW had to sell off all bar one of the Rover brands in 2000. The one brand they did retain? Mini.
In 1998, BMW also acquired the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand from Vickers Plc.
1995’s launch of the Z3 saw BMW’s first foray into the two-seat roadster market, and somewhat ahead of the current SUV tidal wave, BMW introduced the X5 4×4 in 1999.
‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ was first used in the USA in 1974, and BMW stuck with it right up until 2010, when it was replaced by ‘Joy’, intended to make the brand more appealing to women. However, by 2012, BMW had returned to ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’.
The future of BMW
BMW introduced its first EV with the i3 way back in 2013, so it is not a newcomer to the electric market. However, it has rapidly expanded its range of EV and hybrids in recent years. The company has also announced a joint venture with Toyota to sell hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as soon as 2025.
In January 2022, the company announced a limited edition M760Li xDrive, dubbed ‘The Final V12’.
Quotes about BMW
“You can stick a BMW badge on a dead cat and people would still buy it.” Richard Hammond
“I had a Skoda, but after Wimbledon I changed to a BMW.” Petra Kvitova
“There may be little practical difference between a Ford Mondeo and a BMW 3 Series, but in terms of perceptions of who you are and what you are, then they are worlds apart.” Martin Jacques
“One of my first purchases after I signed to RCA was a BMW. I was driving on the highway, and I heard ‘Don’t’ come on. It was a real moment.” Bryson Tiller
“I didn’t get my first car until I was 22. It was a BMW 1602 and now I’ve got it back I’m waiting to restore it.” Jay Kay