Who founded BMW?

BMW, an acronym for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, is a German manufacturer of luxury vehicles, motorcycles and engines. Over the years, the brand has been synonymous with quality, innovation and prestige in the automotive world. But who were the founders of BMW?

The history of BMW begins in 1913 in the city of Munich, when Karl Rapp founded the company Rapp Motorenwerke. This company was dedicated to the manufacture of engines for airplanes and later for ships. Rapp had the financial support of several investors to launch his project, among them Gustav Otto, son of the inventor of the internal combustion engine, Nikolaus Otto.

In 1916, Rapp Motorenwerke merged with Gustav Otto’s company, which was dedicated to the manufacture of aircraft engines, giving rise to the company Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (BFW). During World War I, BFW became an important supplier of engines for German army aircraft.

Foto: ©BMW

In 1917, Franz Josef Popp, an engineer working for the Austro-Daimler automobile company, joined the BFW as sales and marketing manager. Popp believed that after the war, demand for aircraft engines would decline and that the company should diversify into automobile manufacturing.

In 1918, Camillo Castiglioni, an Italian businessman, joined BFW as chairman of the board of directors. Castiglioni was instrumental in securing the company’s future, as during the post-war period, German companies faced economic and political difficulties.

In 1918, BFW changed its name to BMW AG and began producing motorcycle engines. The first BMW motorcycle, the R32, was launched in 1923. The design of the R32 became the basis for all future BMW motorcycles.

In 1928, BMW acquired the Eisenach company, which was engaged in the production of automobiles. With this acquisition, BMW began to manufacture its own automobiles. In 1936, BMW introduced the 328, a sports car that became one of the brand’s most emblematic models.

During World War II, BMW focused on the production of aircraft engines, and also manufactured engines for German tanks and military vehicles. At the end of the war, the BMW factory in Munich was seriously damaged by bombing, and automobile and motorcycle production had to be suspended.

After the war, BMW had to reinvent itself and start from scratch. In 1952, BMW introduced the 501 model, its first automobile after the war. This model was followed by the BMW 1500 in 1961, a car that marked the beginning of BMW’s luxury car production.