It is strange to think that BMW is now 101 years old. The fact it produces such cutting edge cars, makes it hard to think of them as being such an old manufacturer.
However, as you will see when you read on, right from the start BMW was a bit different. They were always ahead of the game, and working on the cutting edge.
A flying start
This was the case even when they made aircraft engines. It was the engineers at BMW that developed the first usable, four-cylinder engine, which the legendary Red Baron said was the greatest engine of WWI. It was this engine, which would later be developed by the company, and used in their road car. Interestingly, the shape of their headquarters building was inspired by the four cylinder engine that was the foundation of much of the firm´s early success.
Always pushing the envelope
From the start BMW took existing technology and made it better. Interestingly, the first BMWs cars for sale were not designed by the firm. The Dixi was based on the Austin 7, which was at the time the flagship vehicle of the Austin Motor Company.
They did the something similar with the Hornet aircraft engine. Initially, they took over the licence from Pratt & Witney and replicated their production techniques. However, within a few months they had improved on the design and started to produce the BMW 132, which was a significant improvement on the original. It was engine that made long distance travel viable.
BMW pioneers automotive aerodynamics
For decades, aerodynamics had been used as part of aircraft design, but BMW was one of the first firms to apply the principles to car design. One of the earliest examples of this was the 328 Kamm coupe, which they made in 1940. It was the first car to have its rear end chopped off, which made it go a lot faster than a booted vehicle could.
Some modern BMW firsts
BMW have always developed cars that incorporated new technology, especially if it led to safer and more comfortable vehicles. A great example of this was the introduction of Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR). The firm introduced this technology, when they included the system in their 2008 BMW 7-Series range. In the same year, they started to offer owners the chance to take advantage of Intelligent High-beam Control (IHC). In 2013, they introduced camera only Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Traffic Jam Assistance (TJA) to their range.
Back to the future
More and more manufacturers are producing electric car. Interestingly, BMW played around with the idea as far back as the 70s. In 1972, they came up with an electric version of their popular 1602 model. It never actually went into production, but once again BMW were ahead of the game.
As you can see the history of this great German car manufacturing firm is a rich one. However, we suspect that what they do in the future is going to be even more interesting. BMW is continuing to innovate, and lead the way.