PressClub Nederland · Article.
103 jaar BMW Group, 100 jaar records en overwinningen.
Moed, onafhankelijkheid, concurreren met de besten, terwijl nieuwe paden worden bewandeld – dit zijn de kenmerken van BMW Group sinds 7 maart 1916. Vandaag kijkt BMW Group Classic terug op een reeks evenementen, recordprestaties en innovaties: van het wereldrecord in 1919 en het debuut van MINI 60 jaar geleden tot de uitvinding van de moderne SUV met de X5 in 1999. Vele andere zullen volgen in de loop van 2019. Bijgaand het Engelstalige persbericht.
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Munich. On 7 March 2019, the anniversary of the
company’s establishment was celebrated for the 103rd time. During this
period, a small aero-engine factory transformed itself into the
world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles.
This development reflects the character of the company and the key
people who shaped its success. The company ethos is based on the
courage to innovate, the readiness to go the extra mile, the drive to
compete with the best and the ability to overcome special challenges.
In 2019, BMW Group Classic looks back on numerous events, outstanding
achievements and innovations that are based on precisely these principles.
100 years ago: A high-altitude flight as the first record for BMW.
On 17 June 1919, the experienced test pilot Franz Zeno Diemer set out
to help the fledgling company BMW achieve a first world record. He
took off from Munich’s Oberwiesenfeld airfield piloting his aeroplane
manufactured by Deutsche Flugzeugwerke and powered by the BMW IV
aero-engine on the route to a sensational record attempt. The 230 hp
engine was designed on the basis of a principle conceived especially
for flying at great altitudes. Diemer took around one and a half hours
to fly his machine up to an altitude of 9,760 metres. In the open
cockpit, he had to contend with temperatures down to minus 50 degrees
and breathe in air with gradually diminishing oxygen levels. Never
before had an aircraft flown so high.
90 years ago: The BMW 3/15 hp – launch on four wheels.
Ten years later, BMW had already expanded its product portfolio with
motorcycles – then came the next step. The Board of Management decided
to get involved in the automobile business. The Chairman was
Franz-Josef Popp, who had held a management position with the company
in the early stages of aero-engine production. “Our experience in the
area of motorcycle construction encouraged us to embark on the
production of small cars, for which there appears to be a promising
domestic market. With this end in mind, we purchased automaker
Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach,” announced Popp in the company’s Annual
Report. On 22 March 1929, the first BMW 3/15 PS left the assembly
halls in Berlin-Johannisthal. Almost 16,000 units of the new small car
followed in the years up to 1932.
60 years ago: Debut for the classic Mini.
He sketched out the first design drafts on a napkin. The designer
Alec Issigonis created a revolutionary small car on the basis of the
resulting plans. On 4 April 1959, the first classic Mini rolled off
the assembly line at the Austin Longbridge plant in Birmingham. In
spite of an external length of 3.05 metres, the little car provided
sufficient space for four occupants and their luggage. Issigonis
applied a completely new design at the time, with front-wheel drive, a
four-cylinder transverse engine mounted at the front of the car, and
the gearbox configured beneath. This design layout was soon adopted by
virtually all manufacturers in modified form. It offered the best
prerequisites for the principle of creative use of space and for
excitingly agile driving performance – attributes which characterise
the models of the British premium brand to this day.
60 years ago: The turnaround was achieved with the compact BMW 700.
During the 1950s, the company made significant contributions to
getting people in the young Federal Republic of Germany on the road
with the BMW Isetta and the BMW 600 that was derived from it. However,
the aspirations of the customers continued to rise and it was
necessary to create a new small car with a conventional design in
order to compensate for falling sales. The Viennese BMW importer,
automobile designer and former racing driver Wolfgang Denzel provided
the key impetus. He presented the BMW Board of Management with the
design for a two-door notchback car that had been designed by the
Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti. The prototype formed the
platform for the BMW 700, which was presented for the first time on 9
June 1959. By 1965, more than 190 000 units had been sold and BMW
succeeded in ascending out of the economic trough.
60 years ago: Small shareholders defend the independence of BMW.
Sales problems in the automobile and motorcycle business had caused
BMW serious financial difficulties during the 1950s. At the Annual
General Meeting held on 9 December 1959, the takeover of the company
by Daimler-Benz AG was therefore an item on the agenda. However, the
restructuring plan associated with the takeover was opposed by many of
the small shareholders. During the course of a turbulent discussion,
the lawyer Friedrich Mathern managed to depict inconsistences about
the official figures. He objected that all the development costs for
the BMW 700 had unjustifiably been included in the balance sheet for
1958. He also criticised the fact that the value of the BMW brand and
its employees had been valued much too low. The meeting was then
adjourned – with the result that the time-limited offer from Stuttgart
expired. BMW remained independent but the financial crisis had not
been resolved. The increased commitment of major shareholder Herbert
Quandt ultimately provided the assurance needed to move forward. In
the following year, he submitted a new restructuring plan which also
took account of the interests expressed by the small shareholders.
50 years ago: A new era of motorcycle production begins.
Aero-engines had already been manufactured in Berlin-Spandau under
the direction of BMW since the 1930s and after World War II motorcycle
and car compnents as well. In 1969, the entire production of
motorcycles was relocated from Munich to Berlin. The start of
production for the BMW /5 Series went hand in hand with the move. The
technical director at the time, Helmut Werner Bönsch, presented it
with self-assured words: “There is no doubt that BMW has been building
the best and most advanced motorcycle in the world for many years. Our
ambition is to maintain this reputation into the future.” This was
indeed the case. The BMW 50/5, BMW R 60/5 and BMW R 75/5 models had
been developed as sporty touring motorcycles in a modern design, and
they had a completely new chassis with telescopic fork for the front
wheel and variable rear-wheel suspension. And for the first time,
customers were able to choose between versions with different colours.
40 years ago: The BMW M1 lined up on the grid in the Procar Series.
The BMW M1 mid-engined sports car was already irresistible when it
was standing still. But it developed its true fascination on the
racing track. This emerged above all in the Procar Series initiated by
the Managing Director of BMW Motorsport GmbH at the time, Jochen
Neerpasch. The races were staged in 1979 and 1980 as part of the
warm-up for the Formula 1 World Championship races in Europe and they
developed into a runaway success with the public. The protagonists
themselves were also captivated by Neerpasch’s idea of staging races
between Formula 1 drivers and touring car drivers piloting vehicles
with identical engineering and generating 470 hp. On 12 May 1979, the
first race in the Procar Series started in Zolder, Belgium, and 16
more races were to follow.
20 years ago: World premiere for the BMW X5.
An all-rounder with all-wheel drive which was not only capable of
impressive driving on off-road terrain but also demonstrated excellent
performance on the road – this was how the BMW X5 was presented in
autumn of 1999, as the world’s first Sports Activity Vehicle. A few
months later, the BMW X5 Le Mans demonstrated its huge potential for
dynamic driving. This was an experimental vehicle with a V12 engine
generating more than 700 hp. Racing driver Hans-Joachim Stuck achieved
a top speed of 309 km/h in this car on the Nürburgring. 20 years after
the debut of the first SAV, the family of BMW X models has grown to
seven model series. In 2018, 37.3 percent of the brand’s total sales
were generated by BMW X models.
20 years ago: The BMW Z8 exerts fascinating appeal with classic aesthetics.
In 1999, BMW also presented a milestone in its roadster history, which was certainly not lacking in highlights. The BMW Z8 styled by Danish designer Henrik Fisker created a sensation at its world premiere on the occasion of the International Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA). The elegant lines recalled the legendary BMW 507 and the luxurious cockpit make it an eye-catcher to this day. The classic forms clothed innovative engineering: a self-supporting aluminium frame with the external skin bolted on, powered by a 400 hp V8 engine. A total of 5,703 units of the BMW Z8 were manufactured between 2000 and 2003 at a dedicated production facility established especially for this vehicle at the BMW plant in Munich.
BMW Group Classic will be saluting these anniversaries in a variety of events and publications during the course of 2019. In the meantime, the Press Department of BMW Group Classic is providing more detailed information on the topics outlined above.