Tag Archives: history

The History of BMW in America

BMW is one of the most well known German automotive manufacturers in the world. The brand has been around since the early 1900s, 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 America? 

Let’s take a look at the history of BMW in the United States and where it might go in the future. 

1956 — Introducing BMW to the U.S.

BMW 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.

An 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

1975 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. 

The 1982 E30 was one of the brand’s biggest successes to date, and that growth led them to make another massive decision a decade later.

1994 — Manufactured in the U.S.

In 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

BMW is one stalwart brand that is always changing and evolving with the times. 

While 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. 

Bimmers and More at the 8 Best Automotive Museums in The USA

There are more than 35,000 museums in 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 favorite topic.

Ready 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

The 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

If 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 industry.

3. Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA

You’ll 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 cars, including gems like a 1939 Porsche 64 — one of two ever made.

4. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, MI

If 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

Ocala, 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 vehicles 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 Hershey, PA

Most 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

If 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?

There 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.