BMW AG originated with three other manufacturing companies, Rapp Motorenwerke and Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFw) in Bavaria, and Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach in Thuringia. Aircraft engine manufacturer Rapp Motorenwerke became Bayerische Motorenwerke in 1916.
The end of the war hit BFw hard, since military demand for aircraft collapsed. The company’s management was forced to find new products in order to survive. Because aircraft were largely built from wood at that time, BFw was equipped with the very latest joinery plant and held enough stock of materials to build about 200 aircraft, which was worth 4.7 million reichsmarks. The company used the machinery and the materials in the production ...view middle of the document...
BFw's motorcycle sideline was improved upon by BMW and became an integral part of their business.
BMW became an automobile manufacturer in 1929 when it purchased Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach, which, at the time, built Austin Sevens under licence under the Dixi marque. BMW's team of engineers progressively developed their cars from small Seven-based cars into six-cylinder luxury cars and, in 1936, began production of the BMW 328 sports car. Aircraft engines, motorcycles, and automobiles would be BMW's main products until World War II. During the war, against the wishes of its director Franz Josef Popp, BMW concentrated on aircraft engine production, with motorcycles as a side line and automobile manufacture stopped altogether.
BMW AG was heavily bombed towards the end of the war, reducing most of the company's production facilities to rubble. In fact, by the end of the war, the Munich plant was completely destroyed
After the war the Munich factory took some time to restart production in any volume. BMW was banned from manufacturing motor vehicles by the Allies. During this ban, BMW used basic secondhand and salvaged equipment to make pots and pans, later expanding to other kitchen supplies and bicycles. Permission to manufacture motorcycles was granted to BMW by United States authorities in 1947, and production of the R24 began in 1948.
BMW began building cars in Bavaria in 1952 with the BMW 501 luxury saloon. Sales of their luxury saloons were too small to be profitable, so BMW supplemented this with building Isettas under licence.
By 1959, BMW was in debt and losing money.The Isetta was selling well but with small profit margins.Their 501-based luxury sedans were not selling well enough to be profitable and were becoming increasingly outdated.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1961, BMW launched the 1500, a compact sedan with front disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension. This modern specification further cemented BMW's reputation for sporting cars. It was the first BMW to officially feature the "Hofmeister kink", the rear window line that has been the hallmark of all BMWs since then.
By 1963, with the company back on its feet, BMW offered dividends to its shareholders for the first time since World War II.
By 1966, the Munich plant had reached the limits of its production capacity. Although BMW had initially planned to build an entirely new factory, the company bought the crisis-ridden Hans Glas GmbH with its factories in Dingolfing and Landshut. Both plants were restructured, and in the following decades BMW's largest plant took shape in Dingolfing.
Of major importance to BMW was the arrival of Eberhard von Kuenheim from Daimler-Benz AG. Just 40 years old, he presided over the company's transformation from a national firm with a European-focused...