It may be difficult to believe (even for us), but next year BMW will be 100 years old. How do we feel? Like it’s 1916 all over again! The love of building engines, cars and motorcycles runs through our veins. And at BMW Group Classic we’re marking this centenary by finally moving back to the place where our love affair with engines began early in the last century.
The roots of BMW as a company stretch back to the birth of the two firms established by engineer Karl Rapp and aircraft designer Gustav Otto, son of Nicolaus August Otto, inventor of the four-stroke internal combustion engine. The founding of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG on 7 March 1916 therefore also represents day one of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.
Back then, the company was building its six-cylinder in-line aero engines on Moosacher Straße in Munich. The engines powered aircraft taking off from an airfield on the opposite side of the road. The BMW logo created in 1917 – featuring a stylised propeller in the state colours of Bavaria – recalls this heritage to this day.
In 1918 work on new production halls at Moosacher Straße was completed. Their capacity was such that brake specialist Knorr-Bremse AG could also take up residence here to manufacture its products. The production of aero engines was halted after the First World War and a turbulent few years ensued. In 1920 the company was sold to Knorr-Bremse AG, and two years later it passed into the hands of financier and pioneering aviator Camillo Castiglioni – workforce, company name and logo included. Later that year, Castiglioni relocated his new acquisition to the Oberwiesenfeld airfield.
The move meant the company’s origins in the beloved production halls on Moosacher Straße would be consigned to history for some time, but it also saw the company experience rapid growth. The first BMW motorcycle was built in 1923, the first BMW cars in 1932. Its factories were dismantled in 1945, but by 1948 the company had recovered to begin production of its first post-war motorcycle, and the BMW 501 luxury car duly followed in 1951. BMW was roaring back to life.
The subsequent decades have seen BMW continue along a successful path – and now we find it poised to celebrate a whole century of history. That’s ten decades over which, in our determination to keep and preserve them, we have collected countless documents, photographs, design drawings, prototypes and studies – and, of course, cars and motorcycles. It wasn’t long before we had amassed a treasure trove of valuable materials, prompting the creation of a separate wing of the company to look after it all: BMW Group Classic. Bringing together all of its departments in one place long remained the stuff of dreams. But next spring, in the centenary year of 2016, we will finally have made it happen. The 100th birthday of BMW AG will see BMW Group Classic coming home – lock, stock and barrel – to Moosacher Straße. And that means our archive, our collection of historic cars and motorcycles, our parts service operation and our workshop will once again run alongside one other under the same roof – as they did on Schleißheimer Straße, but now in the buildings with such historic ties with the earliest days of BMW.
So why has it taken us so long to get this far? I confess we’ve had our eye on the old premises for as long as we can remember, but it wasn’t until 2014 that they finally became available, and we were able to do the deal. Since then, a lot has been happening. We’ve pulled out all the stops in lovingly renovating and restoring the substance of the old building. But we’ve also incorporated modern architecture and the latest technology, allowing us to open up this ensemble of buildings to a variety of different uses.
The café and shop will be open to the general public, and the various event areas can be hired out for private functions.
At BMW Group Classic we’re delighted to be able to incorporate our past into our future. And we look forward to welcoming all those coming with us on this fascinating journey through time.