Can BMW rotors be surfaced again?

The history of the BMW logo: Bavaria in focus

As part of the presentation of the BMW Concept i4, BMW updated its logo for communication. For us, this is the opportunity to come back to the history of the famous trademark, around which various legends are circulating.

Before we delve deeper into the subject, one should know that the Rapp Motorenwerke existed before BMW. This company, founded in 1913, specialized in the manufacture of aircraft engines. Franz-Josef Popp was also on board. Popp, dissatisfied with the commercial and technical management of Rapp-Motorenwerke, finally took over the management of the company himself in July 1917, which at the same time was renamed Bayrische Motorenwerke GmbH. In short: BMW.

BMW classics in the driving report:

Nevertheless, 1916 is the official founding date of BMW. As the? In 1922, the main shareholder, Camillo Castiglioni, left the company and took the naming rights to BMW with him. He went to the Bavarian Aircraft Works (BFW). These emerged from the "Bavarian Aircraft Works" registered on March 7, 1916, which in turn had developed from the Gustav Otto aircraft works, which went bankrupt at the beginning of the year, owned by Gustav Otto, a son of the Otto engine inventor Nikolaus Otto. This March 7, 1916 is considered to be the founding date of BMW in official company history. All right?

But back to Rapp: When BMW was entered in the register in July 1917, the company initially had no company logo. The first BMW advertisement from the same month also dispensed with a symbol or emblem. In addition to aircraft engines, it was already promoting the product range planned for the future: engines for automobiles and agriculture as well as motor boats.

A few months later, BMW used the Rapp Motorenwerke logo as the basis for its own emblem. We find the idea of ​​the black ring again as well as the inscription BMW in the upper part. The Bavarian in the name of BMW should also be reflected in the presentation. The quarter circles inside show the colors of the Free State of Bavaria: white-blue. However, in reverse order - at least if you read the BMW logo, as is customary in heraldry, clockwise from the top left. The reason for this blue and white in the BMW logo: The trademark protection law of the time forbade the use of national coats of arms or other national emblems for a trademark or logo.

The company changes its logo over time, it loses its gold rings that turn white. In 1997 the brand emblem became three-dimensional, and you can still find it on every BMW car today. Only this year did the manufacturer change the look. Now it becomes flatter and its black ring is transparent. As a test, it was attached to the Concept i4, but BMW emphasizes that this new logo is only used for communication purposes. So commercials, brochures, stationery, websites.

Parallel to the production of automobiles, BMW remained loyal to aircraft engines for a long time. For example, the BMW 801 powered the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in World War II. In 1923 BMW launched its first motorcycle, the BMW R 32. With the takeover of the Eisenach vehicle factory in 1928, the opportunity arose to build on the successful small car construction of the traditional Wartburg brand, which was discontinued in 1903, with the Dixi model. In 1929, BMW in Eisenach produced the first BMW cars with the 3/15 PS as license replicas of the Austin Seven. Soon, however, it was possible to break away from licensed production and at the beginning of 1932 brought the newly designed BMW 3/20 with an 800 cc four-cylinder engine onto the market. The first car with a six-cylinder followed in 1933 with the BMW 303.

Until 1945, BMW cars were by no means built in Munich, but exclusively in Eisenach. In the former Eisenach plant, now located in the GDR, production was still under the BMW logo after nationalization until 1951, then as the Eisenach engine plant (EMW). For legal reasons, there was now a modified emblem with the colors red and white instead of blue and white. In doing so, EMW picked up the colors of Thuringia.

Even if the BMW logo has constantly evolved, a legend has persisted for several decades. Many think that the BMW trademark represents an airplane's propeller. But BMW is to blame for this myth. An advertisement from 1929 showed an airplane with the BMW logo on the spinning propeller. At the beginning of the Great Depression, the aim was to promote a new aircraft engine that BMW was building under license from Pratt & Whitney. The propeller interpretation fit very well into the advertising image of the young company, as it underlined the company's roots and expertise in aircraft construction. But BMW did nothing for a long time to clear up the situation.

Then in 1942 BMW ennobled the propeller as a trademark. In an in-house publication called "Flugmotoren-Nachrichten" an article was published that illustrated the version of the rotating propeller. The story was illustrated with a photo (see above) on which the BMW logo was depicted in the rotating rotor.

"Many people believe that the BMW logo is a stylized propeller. But the truth is different. For a long time BMW has not bothered to straighten out the myth," explains Fred Jakobs, head of the archive at BMW Group Classic. "And if you want to stick to the myth of the BMW propeller, you are not completely wrong," says the expert. Strictly speaking, the variant with the rotor in the logo is wrong. However, the declaration has become naturalized through constant repetition. Jakobs: "The interpretation has been common for 90 years and is therefore justified."