Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, in English, Bavarian Motor Works, like Mercedes-Benz is a German automobile manufacturer. The man behind this was Karl Friedrich Rapp. This started in the year 1913. It was not known to everyone that BMW was then a manufacturer of aircraft engines. Rapp established "Rapp-Motorenwerke" in Munich. He started to manufacture his own aircraft engines. Unfortunately, they suffered from problems with vibrations.
Rapp Motoren Werke experienced different problems with the reliability of the aircraft engines. Due to financial problems, Rapp decided to resign from the company in the year 1916. Two Austrians then took over. They were Franz-Josef Popp and Max Fritz. They were able to convince Gustav Otto to merge with them. The merging of the "Gustav Flugmaschinefabrik" and "Bavarian Aircraft Works" gave birth to Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke. The company was then renamed to BMW and in 1918 became BMW AG.
The very first aircraft engine of BMW, Type Illa, was produced during the year 1917. It features a unique "high-altitude carburetor" developed by Fritz that allows it to develop full power at altitude.
After a year, the said aircraft engine powered a biplane to 5,000 meters altitude in just 29 minutes. During those days, it was already a very impressive performance. It then led to the strong demand for BMW engines.
The successor of Type Illa was born in the year 1919. It was named Type IV. With this new engine, Franz Zeno Diemer was able to set an altitude record of 9, 760 meters.
The present logo of BMW seen in the cars today was introduced in the early 1920s. It was based on the circular design of an aircraft propeller.
The company thought of other products and so they started to build engines for motorcycles. They designed the M2 B 15 for the "Victoria" motorcycle. This was the first BMW motorcycle engine and was produced from 1920 to 1922. The first motorized bicycle named "Flink" paved its way in the year 1921. It was powered by a Kurier two stroke engine. In 1922, the first BMW factory was built.
The year 1928 marked the beginning of the BMW car. The company bought the car factory at Eisenach/Thuringia and with it the license to build a small car called the Dixi 3/15. the Dixi was the counterpart of Austin 7. The German version of Dixi was BMW Dixi DA/1. This period was the best for BMW since it was beginning of all the success it is experiencing until now.