is one of the most well known German automotive manufacturers in the world. The
brand has been around since the
tracing its lineage back to 1916, though it didn’t release its first motorcycle
until 1923 and its first car until 1928. While most recognize the logo
when they see it, when did this iconic brand make its way across the pond to
take a look at the history of BMW in the United States and where it might go in
1956 — Introducing BMW to the U.S.
first started selling its cars in the United States in 1956. At the time,
however, if you wanted to bring home a piece of this German engineering, you
had to have it shipped from overseas. Still, that didn’t stop dedicated BMW
fans from seeking out models like the Isetta 300 Motocoupe from Europe.
Austrian-born car dealer named Max Hoffman bought the rights to sell BMWs and
other imported cars in the U.S. in 1954, though it didn’t do him much good
until 1962 when the 02 Series started to become popular. BMWs have been a significant
part of American automotive history since then, but that was where the story started,
not where it ended.
1975 — The First U.S.-Based Dealership
was one of the most significant years for BMW in the U.S., as it marked the
opening of the brand’s first dealership on this side of the pond after buying
back the distribution rights from Hoffman. While its first entrants into the
automotive market weren’t well-received — especially when overshadowed by the
oil crisis of the early 1970s — once the brand started getting its foot in the
door, it took off with a vengeance.
1994, BMW opened a manufacturing plant in Greer, South Carolina, making it the
brand’s first factory in the United States. In 2016, BMW was the 12th
highest-selling vehicle in the States, primarily due to the number of cars it was capable
of assembling domestically. Today, the Spartanburg plant produces half a dozen
models, including the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 SUVs, and is capable of completing
more than 1,500 vehicles every single day.
The Future of BMW in America
is one stalwart brand that is always changing and evolving with the
it might be too early to tell where the future of this company lies, one thing
is certain — the U.S. automotive market would be a vastly different place
if a single car salesman named Max Hoffman hadn’t purchased BMW’s distribution
rights back in the 1950s. He was the man who showed us what BMW was and what it
could be. While people may not have flocked to earlier models in decades
past, these cars might not have made it to America otherwise.
are more than 35,000
the United States, and these attractions showcase everything from art and
history to science, engineering and more. Car museums are popular with
automotive lovers because it gives us a chance to experience the history of our
to cruise to one of the best automotive museums in the USA? Discover the eight
top picks below.
1. Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA
Blackhawk Museum offers one of the best collections of classic cars on the Pacific coast. From
a beautifully restored 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III to an 1886 Benz Patent
Motorwagen, the museum is a must-visit for anyone who loves learning about
antique cars and where the industry started.
2. The Revs Institute in Naples, FL
you’re ever in Naples, make a point to stop at the Revs Institute. It’s home to
one of the largest archives
of automotive history in the country, and available for both professionals and casual car
lovers to peruse. Check out the 1938 BMW Type 328, complete with a six-cylinder
in-line engine. In addition to automobiles, the Revs Institute is home to rare
books, photographs and other documents that showcase the history of the
3. Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA
see the Peterson Automotive Museum from a distance. Its unique flowing steel
exterior resembles flames, one of the most distinctive designs on the list.
Once you’re inside, you’ll want to spend the entire day exploring the 25
galleries with more than 100
including gems like a 1939 Porsche 64 — one of two ever made.
4. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in
you ever stop in Dearborn, Michigan, don’t forget to visit the Henry Ford
Museum of American Innovation. In addition to their permanent displays, they
have a series of ever-changing exhibits that focus on everything
from model trains to visions of the future. Learn how Henry Ford’s innovations
are still influencing the world today.
5. Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, FL
Florida, is a tiny town known for its horses. However, it’s also home to one of
the best drag racing museums in the country. If you like the sport, Don Garlits
Museum of Drag Racing should be on your bucket list. They’ve got more than 300
spread between two buildings. The average tour takes around three hours, but
you’ll want to spend all day exploring history.
6. Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in
people associate Hershey, Pennsylvania with chocolate. However, it’s also home
to one of the greatest
collections of antique cars in the country. Get a glimpse into how manufacturers make cars with
the Assembly Line Experience. You can also try a Disney Cars-themed scavenger hunt
with the kiddos. When done, pop over to Hershey’s factory for some chocolate!
7. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum
in Indianapolis, IN
you’re a car-lover, make a pit stop at the Racing Capital of the World — the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s collection focuses primarily on the history of
the Indianapolis 500, but it also features all sorts of different vehicles, including
NASCAR, Formula 1, and motorcycle racing.
8. America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, WA
America’s Car Museum is located next to the iconic Tacoma Dome in Washington and contains an impressive collection of cars. Most of the collection in the facility, more than 350 vehicles, was donated by the family of Harold LeMay. After his death, the City of Tacoma donated the museum’s land.
Did We Forget Your Favorite?
you have it — our eight favorite car museums in the US. Did we forget your
favorite? Let us know in the comments below. We’re always on the lookout for
new locations to add for our next road trip.
take a lot of pride in the car they drive. When you pay tens of thousands of
dollars for a vehicle, you kind of have to. While some people end up getting a
car that gets them place to place, others find a brand they fall in love with.
many other car lovers out there, I’ve fallen in love with BMW cars over the
course of my life. After graduating from my first car that was basically a
metal can on wheels, I was determined to always drive something that had style
BMW. It’s a brand with some of the classiest cars and one of the most
recognizable logos in the world.
car logos are obvious, like an H for Honda, but BMW’s logo has a bit of history
behind it. It’s actually even created a bit of lore for the company.
on to discover what I’ve learned about the legend of the BMW logo and what its
origin story really is.
Brief History of BMW
brand only gets surrounded by mystery if they’ve been around for a long time.
This is very true of BMW. The company was originally founded in 1916 in
Bavaria, Germany. Its founders wanted to join in on the rising automobile and
plane industries, so they focused on creating engines. They ended up selling
engines to many aircraft manufacturers around the world, giving life to the
people would assume that because the company was succeeding, they’d have a logo
to match their name. What’s strange to modern minds is that the company still
didn’t have a logo at this point. It wasn’t on their list of priorities. They
were focused on making engines and placing small ads here and there that
focused on the brand name, which was Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH.
the company went public in
shortened their brand to BMW. Around this same time, people around the world
were also trying to figure out how to soar around the world in the first
versions of the modern airplane. This is was first led to the company being
tied to the famous propeller.
Airplanes and Power
the first trans-Atlantic and around-the-world flights, every country wanted to
be the first to set records in the air. It was like the space race before the
space race had even been considered. Flying airplanes made at home that
cemented their place in world history meant that the winning country had more
power and respect.
recognized the importance of the aircraft industry, which is why their first
few years were spent in engine
construction operations. They sold engines for airplanes, cars and boats. When they weren’t
building their engine empire, the BMW founders designed new engines that could
power planes over even further distances.
The Logo’s Beginnings
In 1928, BMW became a car manufacturer after purchasing a local manufacturing company. They still made engines, but they connected on a consumer’s level by producing cars. This drew their attention back to their logo since they knew people needed a logo picture when they heard the brand name. It’s a crucial step to creating brand loyalty.
Prior to 1917, the company came up with a general logo featuring the Rapp Motorenwerke company’s symbol. Rapp was part of the company’s identity in their original merger shortly after beginning engine production before the rebranding happened. BMW adopted this Rapp logo, which definitely looked familiar to me.
has a man’s profile image in the middle of a circle, with the company name
split above and below him. The black line surrounding his image looks very
similar to the BMW logo everyone now knows.
A Myth is Born
how BMW got its start in engines? That’s what they were still known for by the
time the first World War was over. While they made a profit off of selling cars
in Germany, their engines were internationally known. Which is why they decided
to create advertisements for them, seeing as how Germany’s military and air
force were extremely limited after the war.
first BMW engine advertisement premiered in 1929, featuring a plane taking
off. That plane used a BMW engine, so the company’s name appeared just above
the spinning propeller as it took off. It was the image seen around the world.
One point that this ad tried to make was to encourage consumers in the midst of a global economic depression. Airplanes were inspiring, literally lifting people up when they watched them fly overhead.
People ended up loving the airplane ad so much that they connected the plane to the company, instead of the actual logo. The logo wasn’t emphasized in their marketing as much as the brand name.
also added fuel to the fire was an article by Wilhelm Farrenkopf in the BMW
journal in 1942. He used plane
win over reads to BMW engines, which only reinforced the idea that the
propeller of a plane was the logo for BMW.
The Truth Behind the Legend
the second World War, BMW switched to manufacturing cars and motorcycles. They
left the plane engine business behind, but the myth about their logo stayed.
July of 1917, BMW had readjusted their logo. They had been using the man’s
profile image in their Rapp logo, but BMW founder Franz Josef Popp switched a
few details. Instead of Rapp, BMW was displayed across the top of the circle.
The colors in the middle came from the Bavarian flag, where the company was
at the current logo, I can totally see where a plane propeller would fit into
the middle of the design. It really speaks to the power of a good
I don’t see this myth going away anytime soon, but I’m glad it was called to my attention so that I could research it. As an avid BMW fan, I had no idea that plane engines were such big part of their history.
It completely explains the fascination people have with the propeller myth that still trails behind one of the most powerful car brands to date.