Friday, October 3, 2008

BMW, Made 1913

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
Type Aktiengesellschaft (FWB: BMW)
Founded 1913
Headquarters Flag of Germany Munich, Germany
Key people Norbert Reithofer (CEO and Chairman of Board of Management)
Joachim Milberg (Chairman of Supervisory Board)
Industry Automotive industry
Products Automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles
Revenue 56.02 billion (2007)[1]
Operating income €4.212 billion (2007)[1]
Profit €3.134 billion (2007)[1]
Employees 107,500 (2007)[1]
Subsidiaries Mini, Rolls-Royce

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), (English: Bavarian Motor Works) is an independent German automobile manufacturer founded in 1916. BMW is a worldwide manufacturer of high-performance and premium automobiles and motorcycles, and is the current parent company of both the MINI and Rolls-Royce car brands.

Early history


A series of double-hulled aircraft for Russia at the Otto factories
A series of double-hulled aircraft for Russia at the Otto factories

Gustav Otto was the son of the wealthy Nikolaus August Otto, the inventor of the four-stroke internal combustion engine. Gustav was an aviator and one of the first flight pioneers in Bavaria. Along with a few others, Gustav flew machines made of wood, wire, canvas and powered by an engine. Through their passion for these flying machines, they helped transform aviation from a do-it-yourself hobby to a genuine industry vital to the military, especially after the breakout of World War I.

a Gustav Flugmachinfabrik biplane in 1910
a Gustav Flugmachinfabrik biplane in 1910

Gustav, in 1910, received the German aviation license no. 34, and, in the same year, set up a training school and a factory that came to be called Otto-Flugzeugwerke in 1913. The factory was located on Lerchenauer Strasse, east of the Oberwiesenfeld troop maneuver area in the Milbertshofen district of Munich (this area later became Munich's first airport). He concentrated on building Farman inspired pushers (he had got his own license on an Aviatik-Farman), and soon became the main supplier for the Bayerische Fliegertruppen (Royal Bavarian Flying Corps). Both the Otto-Werke and his AGO Werke companies, which from 1914 developed different aircraft, were not successful in getting any orders from the Prussian military due to unexplained quality issues. The military urged Otto to revise his production line, but the issues were never resolved. Suffering financially, the Otto company was purchased by a consortium, which included MAN AG as well as some banks, in February 1916. One month later, on this company’s premises the investors established a new business, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG. AGO closed down in 1918, the facilities being taken over by AEG.

[edit] Rapp Motorenwerke

In 1913 Karl Rapp established Rapp Motorenwerke in a few wooden buildings of a former bicycle factory near the Oberwiesenfeld. This new company specialized in airplane engines.

After the outbreak of World War I, Rapp started to supply aeroengines to the Austrian army. However, the engines suffered severe vibration problems, causing the military to decline purchasing the poorly performing engines. Rapp would quickly have gone out of business if his main customer, Austrian military forces, had not had Austro-Daimler V12 aircraft engines built here during war under a license. Austro-Daimler at the time was unable to meet its own demands to build V12 Aero engines. The officer supervising aero-engine building at Austro-Daimler on behalf of the Austrian navy was Franz Josef Popp. When it was decided to produce Austro-Daimler engines at Rapp Motorenwerke, it was Popp who was delegated to Munich from Vienna to supervise engine quality.

However, Popp did not restrict himself to the role of observer, but became actively involved in the overall management of the company. Popp was also the person who convinced Karl Rapp to accept the application of Max Friz, a young aircraft engine designer and engineer at Daimler. At first Rapp was going to turn down Friz’s request; however, Popp successfully intervened on Friz’s behalf, because he recognized that Rapp Motorenwerke lacked an able designer. In the space of a few weeks he designed a new aero-engine, which, with an innovative carburettor and a variety of other technical details, was superior to any other German aero-engine. Later, this engine would gain world renown under the designation “BMW IIIa”.

The recognition that Max Friz gained with his engine made it clear to all the senior managers that up to now Karl Rapp and his inadequate engine designs had held the company back from success. In Friz they now had an excellent chief designer on hand and were no longer dependent on Rapp. On 25 July 1917 the partners in the company therefore terminated Karl Rapp’s contract. The end of this collaboration had been coming for a long time. When Rapp’s departure was finally a certainty, another important decision had to be made. If the man who had lent his name to the company was now leaving it, a new name was naturally required. So, on 21 July 1917, Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH was renamed Bayerische Motorenwerke GmbH.

[edit] Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW)

In February 1916, the south German engineering company MAN AG and several banks purchased the aircraft builder Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik. On this company’s premises the investors established a new business, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (BFW). There was no time for development work, so BFW manufactured aircraft under license from the Albatros Werke of Berlin. This meant that within a month of being set up, the company was able to supply aircraft to the war ministries of Prussia and Bavaria. However, major quality problems were encountered at the start. The German air crews frequently complained about the serious defects that appeared in the first machines from BFW. The same thing had happened with the aircraft from the predecessor company run by Gustav Otto. The reason for these deficiencies was a lack of precision in production. The majority of the workforce had been taken over by BFW from Otto Flugzeugwerke. It was only organizational changes and more intensive supervision of the assembly line that succeeded in resolving these problems by the end of 1916. This done, BFW was able, in the months that followed, to turn out over 100 aircraft per month with a workforce of around 3,000, and rose to become the largest aircraft manufacturer in Bavaria.

The end of the war hit BFW hard, since military demand for aircraft collapsed. The company’s management were thus forced to look for new products with which to maintain their position in the market. Since WWI aircraft were largely built from wood to keep their weight down, BFW was equipped with the very latest joinery plant. What is more, the company still held stocks of materials sufficient for about 200 aircraft, and worth 4.7 million reichsmarks. It therefore seemed a good idea to use both the machinery and the materials for the production of furniture and fitted kitchens. In addition, from 1921 onwards, the company manufactured motorcycles of its own design under the names of Flink and Helios.

Advertisement for BFW in 1916
Advertisement for BFW in 1916

In the autumn of 1921 the Austrian financier Camillo Castiglioni first announced his interest in purchasing BFW. While most of the shareholders accepted his offer, MAN AG initially held on to its shareholding in BFW. But Castiglioni wanted to acquire all the shares. He was supported in this by BMW’s Managing Director Franz Josef Popp who, in a letter to the chairman of MAN, described BFW as a “dead factory, which possesses no plant worth mentioning, and consists very largely of dilapidated and unsuitable wooden sheds situated in a town that is extremely unfavorable for industrial activities and whose status continues to give little cause for enthusiasm”. Apparently Popp was still in close contact with Castiglioni and was perhaps even privy to the latter’s plans for merging BMW with BFW. It was probably in the spring of 1922 that Castiglioni and Popp persuaded MAN to give up its shares in BFW, so that now the company belonged exclusively to Castiglioni. Then in May of the same year, when the Italian-born investor was able to acquire BMW’s engine business from Knorr-Bremse AG, nothing more stood in the way of a merger between the aircraft company BFW and the engine builders BMW.

The name Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG was revived in 1926 when Udet-Flugzeugbau GmbH was changed into a joint-stock company. In the early stages, BMW AG held a stake in this company and was represented by Popp, who held a place on the Supervisory Board. In time this company was renamed to Messerschmitt, an important and leading aircraft company for the Third Reich.

[edit] Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH 1917

The departure of Karl Rapp enabled a fundamental restructuring of BMW GmbH, formerly Rapp Motorenwerke. While the development side was placed under Max Friz, Franz Josef Popp took over the post of Managing Director. Popp held this key position until his retirement in 1942, and was instrumental in shaping the future of BMW.

Reichswehr flag (1921-1935).
Reichswehr flag (1921-1935).


For the small BMW business, the large orders received from the Reichswehr for the BMW IIIa engine were overwhelming. Under Karl Rapp only a small number of engines had been produced and the manufacturing facilities were not in any way adequate to handle the mass production now required. Not only did BMW lack suitable machine tools but, to a very large degree, skilled manpower as well. However, the most serious drawback was in the small and aging workshops. Nevertheless, under the state-controlled war economy, officials in the relevant ministries were able to give BMW extensive practical support.[1] So in a short time BMW got the skilled workers and machinery it needed. In addition, the Munich company received a high level of financial assistance, which enabled it to build a completely new factory from the ground up, in the immediate vicinity of the old workshops. Due to the share capital being too small, both the building of the new plant and the working capital needed for materials and wages had to be financed with external funds, i.e. bank loans or state assistance. The war ministries of Bavaria and Prussia (then both separate kingdoms within the Kaiser’s empire) did not, however, wish to go on supporting BMW with loans and guarantees, and therefore urged the flotation of a public limited company

BMW is forced to close down

The end of the war in November 1918 had a huge impact on the entire German aircraft industry. Since 1914 the military had been placing lucrative orders with aircraft and aero-engine firms. But now military demand collapsed completely, from one day to the next. However, civil aviation was still in its infancy, and no substitute business could be expected from that quarter. The end of the war hit BMW particularly hard, since the BMW IIIa aero-engine was the only product the company was building in 1918. And suddenly there was no more demand for aircraft engines. In the years from 1914 to 1918 the German economy had been placed on a war footing. In order to enable companies to resume civil production as rapidly as possible, a central demobilization office was set up as soon as the war was over, and branches opened right across Germany. The Commissioner for Demobilization with responsibility for Bavaria ordered the closure of BMW’s Munich plant with effect from 6 December 1918.[1] The employees of the fledgling company faced locked factory gates and a future that was far from certain. The reason given by the civil servants for this factory closure was the general shortage of raw materials such as coal and metals. The small supplies of coal that were still on hand had to be made available for the freezing population, and such supplies of metals as remained were diverted to consumer industries. As a former armaments manufacturer, BMW was sent away empty-handed.

BMW AG here to stay

In May 1922 only the engine-building division and the BMW name were sold, not the whole company and its factory. The actual BMW company continued to be owned by Knorr-Bremse AG, but was no longer allowed to use the BMW name and had to be renamed Südbremse AG. As for the new headquarters for Bayerische Motoren Werke, Castiglioni had his eye on a firm in the immediate vicinity, an aircraft manufacturer called Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW). This company had been part of Castiglioni’s business empire since the end of 1921. BMW was moved into the very same buildings of Gustav Otto's former Otto-Flugzeugwerke, and it is precisely here, on Lerchenauer Strasse 76, that BMW has maintained its roots ever since.[4] BFW was now renamed BMW and, with some 200 workers housed in old wooden sheds, it began production on a modest scale. Initially its output was BFW motorcycles, replacement engines and spare parts for aero-engines. To begin with, business for the “new” BMW AG did not go particularly well. The market for replacement engines was still as hotly contested in 1921 as it had been in 1919, when BMW had gone into brake manufacture as a way of securing its long-term future. In the light of these circumstances, the purchase of BMW by a skilled and experienced financier like Castiglioni appears incomprehensible. But in acquiring the BMW engine-building business, Castiglioni was not envisaging production in Germany at all; he had already clinched a different deal. Czechoslovakia was looking for suitable engines to equip its air force and was thinking, among others, of BMW products. Castiglioni had heard of the Czech military’s interest and had perhaps even encouraged it, as he was now in a position to offer BMW aero-engines to the Czechs. In fact, shortly after taking over BMW, Castiglioni managed to conclude an agreement with Prague for the BMW IIIa and BMW IV models to be manufactured under license. The substantial profits from this contract, which ran until the early 1930s, went solely into Castiglioni’s pocket. BMW made nothing at all out of it.

[edit] Aero engines for Russia

The aircraft engine business with Russia secured BMW's success in the 1920s. Meanwhile the competition, Junkers in particular, were confounded as to how BMW was managing to pay out such huge dividends. They conjectured that BMW was the victim of stock market speculation and would soon face bankruptcy. Others made allegations that the Munich company was receiving millions of marks in government subsidies. But all these conjectures were wide of the mark. BMW had merely succeeded in securing Eastern Europe's biggest customer early on: the air force of the Red Army. BMW wasn't the only beneficiary of these business deals with Russia. Sole shareholder Castiglioni was also raking in the money. His deals with Russia were once again conducted through his bogus companies. As an alleged brokerage fee, ten percent of the gross price of each aero-engine delivered to Russia found its way into Castiglioni's pocket. In 1926, the financier from Vienna had to transfer over his majority shareholding to Deutsche Bank to resolve his financial difficulties, but he continued as a major shareholder of BMW.

The “commission payments” to Castiglioni's companies continued until 1928, when an informer tipped off Deutsche Bank about Castiglioni's unusual accounting methods. The bank had his accounts investigated retrospectively. End of the Russian business relations To avoid a court case, Castiglioni made a substantial payment of one million reichsmarks to BMW. As a result of these disturbing revelations, he was no longer tenable to hold a position as a member of the Supervisory Board. When he ran into financial difficulty once again, Deutsche Bank managed to buy the remaining BMW shares from him. The Castiglioni era came to an end in 1929. Since he had come on board in 1922, BMW had burgeoned and flourished. Successful motorcycle production had been established, the company had embarked on car production with the purchase of the Eisenach Car Factory in 1928, and thanks to the Russians, aero engine manufacturing had been revived with considerable profit. But these achievements were not so much owed to Castiglioni as to BMW's General Manager, Franz Josef Popp. The “Castiglioni affair”, needless to say, had repercussions on the Russian business. The Russian commercial agency in Berlin became aware of the high commission payments and felt ten percent too much had been paid for years. Arbitration proceedings led to an agreement that BMW would agree to give the Russians the license for the BMW VI aero-engine free of charge. In the aftermath, BMW tried desperately to win new contracts from the Soviets, but this was unfortunately not to be. And so 1931 marked the end of this lucrative Russian deal for BMW.

[edit] 1923 – the year of decisions

In 1922 BMW had once again become independent, and owed this position to its new major shareholder, Castiglioni. However, Castiglioni was only interested in making a “quick buck”, which indeed he succeeded in doing through the license agreement with Czechoslovakia and various other deals. The long-term future of BMW was secured by the efforts of its employees and senior management at that time. It was, in particular, the capable chief executive Franz Josef Popp and the gifted chief designer Max Friz whose commitment to BMW established the company as a permanent international player in the building of aero-engines and motorcycles. In this respect, 1923 was a year of great significance, and it can justifiably be called a decisive year for BMW. While Germany was forced to live through a year of runaway inflation and numerous attempted coups, the Munich company made a successful new start – for it was in 1923 that BMW resumed production of aviation engines. A crucial factor in this was the interest shown by the Soviet Union in BMW aero-engines and the solid prospect of large orders. In the years that followed, the Soviet Union was to become BMW’s most important customer. In addition to this, on 28 September 1923, BMW launched the first motorcycle of its own, the R 32. The R 32 was the first in a series of products that would prove successful and profitable over the following years and decades. This meant that by 1923 everything was set fair for a successful future.

Hitler liked the BMW and Wanted to make his own Car for the People.

After World War2

Jews wanted the Car Baned saying :BMW used forced slave labor primarily from concentration camps between 1941 and 1945."

History of BMW motorcycles

Nazis used these Motorcycles


BMW's revolutionary engine and transmission unit in an R 32.
BMW's revolutionary engine and transmission unit in an R 32.
1939 BMW R 35
1939 BMW R 35
Harley-Davidson's BMW copy, the XA.
Harley-Davidson's BMW copy, the XA.
BMW Sahara, Poland 1944
BMW Sahara, Poland 1944

BMW began as an aircraft engine manufacturer before World War I. With the Armistice, the Treaty of Versailles banned any German air force and thus need for aero engines, so the company turned first to making air brakes, agricultural machinery, toolboxes and office furniture. Dissatisfied with that, it eventually turned to manufacturing motorcycles. After the MB215 engine and the two stroke "Flink", 1923 saw the arrival of a complete motorcycle under the BMW name, the R 32.

The iconic circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel is often alleged to portray the movement of an airplane propeller, an interpretation that BMW adopted for convenience in 1929, which was actually twelve years after the roundel was created.[1] In fact, the emblem evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, from which the BMW company grew. The Rapp logo was combined with the blue and white colors of the flag of Bavaria to produced the BMW roundel so familiar today. Thus, the logo was created before BMW ever tested an airplane engine.

Max Friz, BMW's chief designer, turned to motorcycle and car engines. Within four weeks, he had copied the now-legendary opposing flat twin cylinder engine which we know today as the boxer engine. This product was the second revolutionary product that Friz copied that firmly placed BMW AG in a profitable position.

The first boxer engine was the fore-and-aft M2B15, based on a British Douglas design. It was manufactured by BMW in 1921–1922 but mostly used in other brands of motorcycles, notably Victoria of Nuremberg. The M2B15 proved to be moderately successful and BMW used it in its own Helios motorcycle. BMW also developed and manufactured a small 2-stroke motorcycle called the Flink for a short time.

In 1923 the first "across the frame" version of the boxer engine was designed. Friz designed the 1923 R 32 with a 486 cc engine with 8.5 hp (6.3 kW) and a top speed of 95–100 km/h (60 mph).[2] The engine and gear box formed a bolt-up single unit. At a time when many motorcycle manufacturers used a total-loss oiling systems, the new BMW engine featured a recirculating wet-sump oiling system. However, it was not a "high-pressure oil" system based on shell bearings and tight clearances that we are familiar with, but a drip feed to roller bearings. This system was used by BMW until 1969. The wet-sump system was not overly common on motorcycles until the 1970s and the arrival of Japanese motorcycles. Until then, many manufacturers had used dry sump, with an external oil-tank made of sheet metal.

The R 32 became the foundation for all future boxer powered BMW motorcycles. BMW oriented the boxer engine with the cylinder heads projecting out on each side for cooling as per the earlier British ABC. Other motorcycle manufacturers aligned the cylinders with the frame, one cylinder facing towards the front wheel and the other towards the back wheel. For example, Harley Davidson introduced the Model W, a flat twin oriented fore and aft design, in 1919 and built them until 1923.

The R32 also incorporated a shaft drive. BMW continued to use shaft drives in all of its motorcycles until the introduction of the F 650 in 1994. The F 650 series, and later the F 800 series when introduced in 2006, featured either a chain drive or a belt drive system, both of which were a radical departure from BMW tradition.

By this time the benefits of overhead cams were known; higher revs could be obtained before the onset of valve float. However, the basic boxer design did not lend itself to overhead cams. To obtain the benefits of overhead cams without overly increasing the engine width, BMW incorporated a system that was so advanced for its racing bikes that it resurrected it many decades later in the R 1100 RS oilhead. The system was two cams in the head operating rocker arms via short push rods.

In 1937, Ernst Henne rode a supercharged 500 cc overhead cam BMW 173.88 mph (279.83 km/h), setting a world record that stood for 14 years due to the intervention of World War II. Ernst Henne died at the age of 101 in 2005.

During World War II, the BMW motorcycle copies of the Zündapp KS750 performed exceptionally well in the harsh environment of the North African deserts. At the beginning of the war, the German army needed as many vehicles as it could get of all types. Although motorcycles of every style performed acceptably well in Europe, in the desert the protruding cylinders of the flat-twin engine and shaft drive performed better than vertical and V-twin engines, which overheated in the hot air, and chain-drives, which were damaged by desert sand.

Also during World War II, the U.S. Army asked Harley-Davidson, Indian, Delco, and Crossley[citation needed] to produce a motorcycle similar to BMW's side-valve R71. So Harley copied the BMW engine and transmission — simply converting metric measurements to inches — and produced the shaft-drive 750 cc 1942 Harley-Davidson XA.

After the War

BMW R 1200 C, Cruiser model
BMW R 1200 C, Cruiser model

R1200RT-P police "motor"
R1200RT-P police "motor"

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