German automotive manufacturer BMW has been around for a long time — almost a century to be exact. The company was established in 1916, which means that in just a few months the brand will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
That being said, the carmaker already has plans to commemorate the big day: the company will be honored as a featured marque at the 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, which will take place next August (18-21) at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, California, located on the scenic Monterey Peninsula.
According to Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO, BMW of North America, LLC, “The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is a perfect stage on which to celebrate 100 years of BMW.” Furthermore, Willisch says “The BMW brand and the legend of The Ultimate Driving Machine was forged on and continues to be refined on racing circuits all over the world. In the United States, Laguna Seca has played a starring role. This year, our BMW Z4 GTLM racing cars finished 1-2 in IMSA competition there — almost 40 years to the date a BMW 3.0 CSL won our very first race on the classic circuit.”
Obviously, we expect quite a show during the very special event, which fans of the German car brand will not want to miss.
From Then to Now
The manufacturer has accomplished a lot over the span of a century, and before delving into the present, it’s worth a moment to look into the past and appreciate what BMW has done and what it has come to represent.
Starting with the basics, the letters B-M-W stand for Bayerische Motoren Werke, or Bavarian Motor Works in English. The company started off in 1916 as an aircraft manufacturer, and the following year began displaying the circular red, blue and white emblem we have quickly come to recognize over the years as BMW. The logo incorporates the state colors of Bavaria, and has grown in size since its launch.
In 1922, the German group moved to the production facilities of Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke AG (BFW) in Munich at the Oberwiesenfeld airfield, and nearly 93 years later, BMW Group’s headquarters remain there today. By 1923, the brand’s first motorcycle — the R 32 — was announced, but it was only some years later, in 1928, that the company actually became an automotive manufacturer.
Jumping straight to the 1930s, the carmaker was moving towards industrial production of aero-engines, and the next decade paved the way for an evolved version of the R 23, known as the R 24 motorcycle, which was introduced in March 1948. A total of 9,144 units were sold the following year, according to BMW Group.
In the early 1950s, the brand launched the 501 model, described by Edmunds.com as “a roomy, voluptuous sedan that was resplendent with all of the hopefulness of that era.” Next came the 502 featuring the world’s first light-alloy V-8 engine, followed by the small two-seater Isetta (a best-seller during this time), and a gorgeous, limited-production 507 sports car made its debut.
The brand’s new 1500 four-door touring model — a sporty family sedan — was on display at the 1961 German Motor Show, and it generated so much excitement that demand exceeded production capacities.
In the 1970s, BMW of North America was established. If you’re wondering when the term “Bimmer” arrived during the company’s 100-year history, it was this decade. The 70s also saw the birth of the compact 3 Series, mid-size 5 Series and larger 7 Series cars, along with the grin-inducing performance M division. This time period also marked the debut of the limited production M1 supercar. In terms of racing, the automaker’s love for motorsports became even more evident in 1972, when BMW Motorsport GmbH was founded.
The next millennium marked the launch of the new MINI — an athletic car with a cheeky character, and a model that is considered to be the company’s first premium vehicle in the small-car segment. Other noteworthy events include the debut of the compact 1 Series, hybrid versions of several models becoming available and the X6 fastback crossover was introduced. In addition, motorcycles are still being manufactured.
Lastly, we have 2013, when the German carmaker introduced the BMW i3, effectively launching the ‘i’ brand. It’s a moment that marks the automaker’s first all-electric series-production model in the lineup.
2016 Monterey Reunion
Although we didn’t go over the year-by-year details, we think it’s safe to say that BMW has accomplished a lot in a century. The company has a rich history after beginning as an aircraft engine manufacturer, and later adding motorcycles, automobiles and its love for motorsports to the equation. It makes sense then, that the brand’s big birthday bash will take place during next year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.
“Ludwig Willisch and his management team have been enthusiastic supporters of historic racing here in Monterey, right down to having Ludwig drive in the 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL. It will be a truly international gathering,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
According to the press release, requests for the Monterey reunion will be taken into account between October 2015 and February 2016. 900 applications will be reviewed for the positions, which are limited to 500. If you have the opportunity to attend, or you’re on the fence about it, keep in mind that this is an excellent opportunity to see classic, antique cars — and these vehicles will be on the circuit ready to fire up and compete.
Following the Monterey reunion, the carmaker says the Laguna Seca circuit will host both the BMW Car Club of America’s annual Oktoberfest and BMW Rider’s Association Annual Rally between August 24-28, 2016. However, Monterey is really the big event to attend, especially since rumors suggest the automaker will feature new, never-before-seen models. Let’s cross our fingers and hope it’s true!
What to Expect After a Century of Innovation From BMW
So far this fall, BMW has unveiled two concept cars during the 2015 Monterey car week. According to the automaker, BMW M GmbH (remember we mentioned it was founded in the 1970s!) returns to its racing roots with the M4 GTS, which is one of the concepts that was presented. Unfortunately, we must now check this model off the list and hope that other, cooler cars will debut during the company’s 100th anniversary.
Remember when we mentioned the launch of the carmaker’s new ‘i’ brand in 2013? Well, since then the company has gone on to produce other vehicles like the i8. Here’s why that is important: according to Digital Trends, BMW is reportedly planning to introduce a new version of the model — a higher performance i8 — which may enter the spotlight during the manufacturer’s big anniversary next year. Fingers crossed!
If so, it’s possible the new BMW i8 will go by the name ‘i8S,’ and it may shed a few pounds, in addition to featuring a more powerful engine: a 300-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder rather than a 228-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder unit. When teamed with the hybrid powertrain, the new engine should produce 450 horsepower, which means that you will benefit from nearly 100 more horses, as the current power source and electric motor delivers 357. What’s more, Digital Trends says the car would then be able to reach the 60 mile-per-hour mark in under 4.0 seconds (an improvement of 0.4-seconds compared to its predecessor), and a possible top speed of 155 mph.
Apparently, Dutch publication Autovisie interviewed Franciscus van Meel, who happens to be the head of BMW’s M division. According to the report, van Meel confirmed that a 400-hp version of the i8 is being worked on and that a Spyder version of the model is being considered. In case you don’t remember, the brand revealed an i8 Spyder concept car in 2012.
Another vehicle to anticipate next year is the BMW Rapp Concept: a special two-seater roadster that Daily News Dig says will be created to celebrate the big anniversary and pay tribute to the company’s founders.
Information above was provided by Ferman BMW of Tampa Bay, Sarasota, Pinellas and Pasco Counties in Florida, USA.
Photo from http://www.mazdaraceway.com/track.