2016 is a special year for Bavarian Motor Works as it celebrates its 100th birthday. Yes, BMW, the company that’s brought us such cars as the gloriously sexy E30 M3 is now a century old.
BMW’s heritage has been celebrated all throughout the automotive world this year, and during Monterey Car Week various events paid tribute to the brand’s anniversary.
From The Quail to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, BMW was everywhere.
Let’s take a small step back in time and see how BMW became BMW with a few images I captured during Car Week, interspersed with some from my archives.
The 328 definitely wasn’t the first car that BMW brought us, but it was a special sports car indeed, with over 100 race wins to its name. It was one of 26 cars to be nominated for ‘Car of the Century’ back in 1999.
The 328 Mille Miglia Roadster stood out from the crowd at Pebble Beach, and I’m sure you can see why.
I’d never come across a 503 before, so seeing one in person for the first time was a breathtaking sight. I took advantage of the 6:00am roll-in time to gather shots of this car before the crowds overrun the Pebble Beach Golf Links.
This 507 provided another first sighting for me. All I need is this car, a full tank of gas, and a single day to drive down PCH.Enter 02
Taking a small jump forward in time, it was the mid-’60s when BMW introduced the 02 Series in an effort to bring sportiness back to the brand.
Over 800,000 02s were produced in total, making the model a massive success for BMW.
It also dominated in motorsports throughout Europe, beating its Porsche and Alfa Romeo rivals.
The 02 Series was also the first BMW that American car buyers showed a real interest in.
BMW introduced the 2.0L version of the 02 Series when there was demand for a sportier version of the 1.6L 1602 in the late ’60s, and soon after debuted the legendary 170hp 2002 Turbo.
It’s amazing how cheap you can still pick up an 02 Series car for these days. Check the classifieds and you’ll see decent ones for less than $5000.The Batmobile
When it comes to grand tourers, you can’t forget about BMW’s glorious E9 3.0 CS Series cars.
This was basically a Ferrari for the common man.
The FIA blessed us with the European Touring Car Championship and its homologation rules…
And BMW created the 3.0 CSL as a homologation special so it could enter the car into the series.
A total of 1265 3.0 CSLs were built by BMW.
The final versions of the 3.0 CSL built in ’73 came with the aero package that you see in the above images. Because of how aggressive it looked from all angles, it was nicknamed the Batmobile.
To say the racing version of this car did pretty well would be an understatement.
BMW won six championships in the ’70s with this car, and definitely scared its competitors in the process.
“I can’t catch the bad guys without the help from Castrol” – Batman
In my opinion, this is the best car BMW has made; or at least it’s the one I want the most.
BMW Motorsport was created in the early ’70s, at that time working and fine-tuning the 3.0 CSL race cars and turning them into the living legends they are today.
In the late ’70s BMW called for another homologation car, and so the M1 was born.
This was the first M-badged production car by BMW.
The M1 wasn’t as successful as BMW had hoped it would be, and after multiple setbacks on all sides the production of this luscious machine came to a halt at the end of 1980.
But I still want one.
There was light at the end of the tunnel with the introduction of BMW’s most famous M-badged car, the E30 M3.
It found itself competing in the WTCC, DTM, BTCC, and pretty much every other touring car championship in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
And it dominated the touring car world when it competed during that time.
It’s hard to meet a car enthusiast who doesn’t have the E30 M3 somewhere near the top of their dream car list.The Present
Taking a small jump to present day (kind of), I need to make mention of the often overlooked Z8.
I first saw this car in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough, and instantly fell in love with the M5-powered beast. Fun fact: the creator of Fisker Automotive designed the original 507 tribute concept for this car.
I think I have a strong affinity for BMW’s Z-line in general.
They’re like Miatas, but better.
It makes me slightly sad that I can’t see these Z4 race cars on track racing any more.
I guess the same can be said about the M3s that raced in the ALMS series when I used to watch GT racing religiously. I vividly remember buying Need for Speed: Shift solely because the game’s cover art featured the E92 GT2 race car, rocking the 2009 livery.
The M4 has hit the market by storm with what seems like huge success.
As the successor to the E92 coupe, it definitely lives up to its older brother’s reputation. The only thing I wish for is for BMW to campaign the M4 in its current racing programs.
I don’t have anything against the M6, I just really like the M4!
They’re brand new cars this race season, so it’ll only be a matter of time before we see them on podium top steps.The Next 100 Years
What does the future hold for BMW? The new 2002 Hommage concept was a nice teaser for us to see. I’m wondering if something like this will actually go into production.
The brand new Alpina B7 is launching this fall with 600hp and all-wheel drive. I caught a few pictures of it, so expect a feature soon.
There are also rumors of an all-electric 700hp i8. Hopefully, they don’t end up just being rumors.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what BMW has planned for us over the next 100 years!