What are the key dates in the history of BMW?

Year Historic Information
1916 BMW formed under name Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke (BFW).
1917 A picture of BMW Propeller

Adopted BMW name and stylised propeller in blue / white segments, the colours of the Bavarian coat of arms.

As a result of war, the small company appreciated rapid growth.

1919 BMW IV six cylinder engine achieved a world record altitude of 9,760m
(32,000 ft).
1923 First BMW motorcycle, the R32 twin, is launched.
1928 BMW starts car manufacture.  The first car was an Austin Seven built under licence.
1929 A picture of Ernst Henne riding a BMW R37 Ernst Henne achieved a world motorcycle speed record of 134 mph on a BMW R37 (pictured).
1933 A picture of BMW 303 The 303 (pictured) was BMW's first car powered by a ‘six cylinder’ engine (1.2 litres!). It also had the ‘kidney shaped’ radiator grill - still a typical BMW motif.
1936 The legendary BMW 328 was presented and up to 1940 revolutionised the two litre sport car.
1939 Schorsch Meier won the 1939 Senior TT with the Kompressor BMW.
1939/45 BMW produced the 132 and 801 radial engines for the Focke-Wulf 190 and the BMW 003 gas turbine engine - the first jet to fly in a combat aircraft (Arado 234 and Messerschmitt 262).
1945 BMW lost its Eisenach car plant to the Russian sector. Its Munich plant was heavily damaged (with all worthwhile machinery taken as war reparation).  The company ‘survived’ making pots and pans, spades and bicycles.
1947 Designs for the first post-war BMW motorcycle were ready.
1948 BMW built its first post-war car - BMW 501 six cylinder.
1954 A picture of BMW 502 V8 BMW built the 502 V8 (pictured) - Germany's first post-war V8 and takes a licence to build the Isetta 'bubble car'.
1956 A picture of BMW 507 BMW launches the 507 (pictured) and 503 four seat convertible and coupe.
1959 BMW in financial crisis.  On the brink of being taken over by Daimler-Benz, small shareholder opposition resisted a 'yes' vote.
1962 A picture of the BMW 1500 The ‘New Class’ BMW 1500 (pictured) 're-launched' BMW as a maker of high quality, sport compact saloons.
1966 A smaller two door range - the 02 - was launched together with a large six cylinder BMW 2500. BMW took over Hans Glas GmbH of Dingolfing - this remains BMW's largest plant and is today run by the son of the founder, Hans Glas.
1969 Redesigned flat-twin BMW motorcycles built at new plant in Spandau, Berlin.
1970 Eberhard V. Kuenheim becomes Chairman of the Board of Management. In his time in this role, BMW developed into a brand of global standing.
1972 A picture of BMW 4 Cylinder Building

Munich HQ four cylinder building opened (pictured).

Second Dingolfing plant opened.

BMW assembly started at Rosslyn, South Africa.

BMW Motorsport GmbH founded.

Start of production of the 5 Series (E12). Electrically powered 2002s led the Munich Olympic marathon.

1973 BMW win European Touring Car Championship and European Championship for F2 cars.
1974 A picture of BMW 2002 Turbo The first European production turbocharged car, BMW 2002 Turbo, is launched (pictured).
1975 A picture of BMW Art Car The first 3 Series (E21) and the first Art Car by
Alexander Calder, is unveiled (pictured).
1976 The 6 Series (E24) and the R100RS Motorcycle, are launched.
1977 A picture of BMW 7 Series The first 7 Series (E23), is launched (pictured).
1978 A picture of BMW M1 car The BMW M1 is unveiled (pictured).
1980 BMW (GB) Ltd. formed and renamed BMW (UK) Ltd. in 2005.
1981 The BMW Enduro motorcycle, R80G/S is launched and wins the Paris-Dakar rally.

BMW wins the F1 World Championship. Road engine block M12 engine powering Nelson Piquet's Brabham BT52-BMW is the first turbocharged engine to win the title.

K Series four cylinder bikes launched.

1985 BMW Technik GmbH was set up as a think tank to realise ideas and concepts for the future.
1986 BMW M3 launched, becoming the most successful touring car racer ever.
1987 A picture of the first car developed by BMW Technik GmbH

BMW Z1 - first car developed by BMW Technik GmbH (pictured here).

New BMW Research & Innovation centre - FIZ - officially opened to house 6,000 engineers under one roof.

New 750i powered by first German V12 engine to be produced since 1930s.


BMW 850i launched.

BMW Rolls-Royce GmbH aero engine company founded.


BMW car recycling initiative begins.

BMW E1 electric concept car unveiled.

1992 Construction of plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina begins.

Eberhard von Kuenheim retires after 25 years at the helm of BMW.

Bernd Pichestrieder is new Chairman.

New Boxer R1100RS and F650 motorcycles launched.


BMW acquire Rover Group from BAE.

Introduction of 3 Series Compact.

With the purchase of Rover, BMW take over Oxford plant.

1995 New 5 Series (E39), is launched.

Integration of Rover.

Joint venture with Chrysler to build engines in Brazil.

BMW Z3 Roadster born.

1998 Rover 75 launched. BMW acquires the right to the name Rolls-Royce for cars.
1999 A picture of BMW Z9

BMW X5, Z8 Roadster and Z9 coupe (pictured) launched.

BMW win Le Mans with V12LMR.

2000 A picture of BMW WilliamsF1 car

Rover sold to The Phoenix Consortium and Land Rover sold to Ford.

BMW keep MINI brand. BMW C1 offered for sale.

BMW re-enter F1 with BMW WilliamsF1 team (BMW Williams F1 car pictured).

New M3 launched.

CleanEnergy concept accelerated at EXPO 2000.

2001 A picture of MINI One

MINI is launched.

MINI One (pictured) and MINI Cooper go on sale.

New 7 Series revealed.

Opening of Hams Hall.

2002 A picture of BMW CleanEnergy Hydrogen car

MINI Cooper S launched. New 7 Series on sale in the UK.

Hydrogen World Tour visits the UK (BMW CleanEnergy hydrogen-powered car pictured).

2003 A picture of Rolls-Royce Phantom

Assumed marque responsibility for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Launch of Rolls-Royce Phantom (pictured).

Goodwood plant is opened. The MINI One D is launched.

2004 A picture of a BMW Series 1 car

The MINI Convertible, 1 Series, 6 Series Convertible and X3 Sport Activity are launched (BMW 1 Series pictured).

BMW celebrate 3 significant milestones, the 75th anniversary of the BMW badge appearing on a car, the 80th anniversary of the first BMW sports motorcycle and the 50th anniversary of the BMW light-alloy V8 engine.

2005 A picture of a BMW Series 3 car The new 3 Series (pictured), 7 Series and M5 are launched.
2006 A picture of BMW Group Academy

£17 million BMW Group Academy UK opens (pictured).

BMW manufacturing produces one millionth vehicle.

Second generation MINI launched.

2007 A picture of MINI One

The millionth MINI is delivered (MINI One pictured).

BMW Hydrogen 7 available to selected customers.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is released from Plant Goodwood.

The second generation MINI One and MINI Cooper D are launched.

MINI Clubman goes on sale (from November). 

2008 A picture of BMW 118d

BMW 118d wins World Green Car of the Year.

BMW EfficientDynamics honoured with environmental awards from What Car? and Fleet News.

Ofsted awards its highest accolade to BMW Group Academy UK.

BMW awarded first prize for Group Sustainable Value Report at the Corporate Responsibility Reporting Awards 2007.

BMW wins International Engine of the Year for fourth consecutive year.

The new X6 is launched.

The new Electric MINI E is unveiled at the Los Angeles Autoshow.

2009 A picture of BMW 118d

The new BMW Z4 (pictured), X1, 730Ld (7 Series) and the new MINI Convertible is launched.

The new 116d BMW’s most fuel efficient and least polluting vehicle is launched.

BMW Group named as ‘greenest premium manufacturer by Clean Green Cars website and wins accolades at Fleet News Awards 2009 for fuel saving and emission reducing technologies.

BMW scoops honours from Business Car magazine including ‘Manufacturer of the Year’, ‘Green Manufacturer of the Year’, ‘Green Initiative of the Year’ and ‘Executive Car of the Year’ for the BMW 5 Series.

Rolls Royce announces new model series the Rolls Royce Ghost.

MINI celebrates 50 years of production.

BMW launches the New BMW S 1000 RR and the new BMW M3 Coupé.

BMW announces new Concept 5 Series Gran Turismo.

BMW 3 Series is proclaimed Best Fleet Car in the annual Fleet World honours.

BMW Group receives a host of honours at the What Car? Green Car Awards and the Which? Awards 2009.

BMW wins triple victory in the Engine of the Year Awards 2009.