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BMW history

BMW in the 1970s - BMW E21 marks the launch of the 3 Series

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By the 1970’s BMW was a commercial success. Construction of a new HQ begins in Munich. The building is architecturally modeled after four cylinders.


In December 1971 BMW stuff moves into the new HQ. It is still in use today and became a true icon for BMW.
As early as 1971, the BMW 3.0 Si reaches the 200 km/h mark effortlessly. Six-cylinder engines are also incorporated in the new line of coupés. Continuing this development, the BMW 3.0 CSL light construction coupé causes furors in 1971, when it debuts on the racetrack and the streets with 180 to 206 hp.


It is the year of the Summer Olympics in Munich. Paul Bracq, head of design at BMW, is the creator of the Turbo prototype. It had futuristic interior, a sleek exterior design with gullwing-doors. The car was powered by 4-cylinder, 1990cc turbocharged engine developing 280bhp.

The first BMW 5 Series (so-called because it was the fifth new series after the V-8 and Isetta era) model is presented. Code name E12 ("E" stands for "Entwicklung", the German word for development) this car was mainly targeted at the American market, an important source of profits for BMW.  The 520 and the 520i were 4 door Sedans with carbureted and fuel injected four-cylinder engines.

BMW Motorsport is founded, initially created to facilitate BMW’s racing program, which was very successful in the 1960s and 1970s. In the next years they will give us some of the most amazing cars in the world.

BMW builds a new factory in South Africa.


Introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW 2002 Turbo was one of the first mass-produced turbos in the world. It had a KKK (Kuhnle, Kopp & Kausch) turbocharger.
BMW wins the European Formula 2 Championship, European Touring Car Champion and World Sidecar Champion for the twentieth time.
A proof of BMW’s global expansion is the opening of two more subsidiaries in France and in the United States.


The 3.0 CSL race cars were the first cars to be developed under BMW Motorsport GmbH. They were also the first to sport the newly designated official colors of BMW Motorsport - red, blue and purple - and the first to use ABS. CSL stands for: coupé, sport, lightweight. Because of the aerodynamic wings, the 3.0 CSL was nicknamed “the Batmobile”.


BMW launches the car that will gather the biggest sales in the years to come: the 3 Series. It is the BMW’s answer for an entry-level luxury sedan. The first model was the E21 as a successor to the 2002 model. At the time of the launch it the E21 had four versions: 316, 318, 320 and 320i. More powerful versions were avialable from Alpina.

Alexander Calder, a well known artist especially for his abstract “mobiles”, which are described as the most innovative American sculptures of the 20th century, is the author of first BMW "art car". He turns a 3.0 CSL into a work of art on wheels.


BMW launches a luxury coupé, the 6 Series, codename E24. The high built quality, the luxury, the sporty engines; the technical innovations remain a standard even in today’s market of luxury coupés. The 6 Series was equipped with a series of sensors that ran a check on oil pressure, windshield washer level, brake fluid level, brake lights, brake pad wear, tail lights, and coolant level thus helping the driver. This concept of the "check control" test panel has been used widely in BMW models ever since.

With the 100 RS, BMW build the first motorcycle in the world with full fairing. The development of this focused primarily both on aerodynamic considerations and on the protection of the rider from wind and weather. At the same time, the R100 RS is first BMW with 1 liter capacity. With this model, BMW thus establishes the category of the sporty touring bikes - a segment in which BMW sets standards to this day.


A full-size luxury sedan comes in the body of the BMW 7 Series. The E23 was BMW's replacement for the E3 2500-3.3Li. The first cars were the 728, 730 and the 733i with the advanced Bosch fuel injection.
In 1977 BMW is the first vehicle manufacturer in the world to offer professional driver training. BMW has consistently improved and developed driver training programs in the years since that time.


BMW competes in the Procar Series with Hans-Joachim Stuck and Niki Lauda driving the BMW M1. In order to get the homologation, BMW produced 450 M1’s street versions making it the rarest of modern BMW’s and a dream for many collectors. The M1 was the first car produced by BMW Motorsport.


BMW is one of the pioneers in developing car’s electronics and computers. They keep investing in research and development for new technologies. The result is the Digital Motor Electronics (DME): a microcomputer synchronizes ignition and fuel injection for fuel savings, lower emissions and better engine performance.
The Bavarians also start the research on the hydrogen engines as an alternative solution for the engines of the future.
They start supplying armored cars for exclusive customers and institutions.

BMW 3 Series, E21 - 320i

BMW E21, the first of the BMW's 3 Series

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