Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

BMW

BMW


A chronological day-by-day history of BMW.

Wednesday 4th May 1904

112 years ago

The Honourable Charles Rolls and Henry Royce meet for the first time at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, UK. The two men quickly decided they should join forces to produce and market high-class cars – and set the seal on their agreement with a simple handshake. It was more than seven months until the contracts were signed on 23 December 1904, marking the official start of business for Rolls-Royce Ltd. Since the company’s earliest days, the Rolls-Royce name has stood for unbeatable standards of technology and craftsmanship, as well as reliability and style. The maxim of company founder Henry Royce sums it up: “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.” The BMW Group acquired the naming rights for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in 1998 with the aim of adding another level to the top end of the BMW Group’s successful premium strategy. Based in Goodwood, southern England, since 2003, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars combines the ultimate in craftsmanship with state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and innovative technologies. All in keeping with Henry Royce’s belief in striving for perfection.

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Tuesday 23rd March 1909

108 years ago

Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH was founded in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach with his son Karl Maybach as director. The company was originally a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin/GmbH and was itself known as "Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH" (literally Airship Engine Company) until 1918. Today, the brand is owned by Daimler AG and based in Stuttgart. Maybach has historic roots through the involvement of Wilhelm Maybach, who was the technical director of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. The company originally developed and manufactured diesel and gas engines for Zeppelins, and then rail cars. The company first built an experimental car in 1919, with the first car with the first production model introduced two years later at the Berlin Motor Show. Between 1921 and 1940, the company produced various classic opulent vehicles. The company also continued to build heavy duty diesel engines for marine and rail purposes.Maybach contributed to the German war effort in World War II by producing the engines for the formidable Panther and Tiger tank. After the war, the factor performed some repair work, but automotive production was never restarted, and some 20 years later, its operations were merged into the Daimler AG mainline operations.In 1997, Mercedes-Benz presented at the Tokyo Motorshow an ultra-luxury concept car under the name Mercedes-Benz Maybach (V12, 5987 cc, 550 hp). The concept was quite successful and Mercedes-Benz decided to develop it. Mercedes, however, made the decision to market the car under the sole brand Maybach.Maybach was therefore revived as a brand in the early 2000s, with the production of the new model in two sizes — the Maybach 57 and the Maybach 62 (the numbers are equal to the lengths of the automobiles in decimetres; the longer 62 allows rear occupants to recline fully in their seats). The prices range from $335,500 to $426,000. In 2005, the new 57S was added, sporting a more powerful engine (6.0L V12 bi-turbo (which Mercedes calls the Kompressor)), producing 604 bhp (450 kW) and 737 ft·lbf (999 N·m) of torque) and cosmetic touches that provides a sporty image.When customers decide to order a Maybach they can go to Sindelfingen, the marque’s headquarters, (or meet over a video conference centre at a dealer in their own country) to specify every and any detail they desire. Many customers will personalise their cars with their initials or coats of arms. Maybach executives liken the experience to ordering a custom-built yacht or a personalized jet aircraft. Also, with a hand-crafted finish quality, and over two million equipment option combinations available, it is unlikely that two identical cars will ever leave the factory. The Maybach's main competitor is the Rolls-Royce Phantom. Given that most Maybach owners are chauffeured, owners especially appreciate the Maybach's highly adjustable rear seats with seat warmers, seat coolers, and massage features, none of which can be found in the Rolls Royce. Some have noted that Maybach's superior focus on occupant comfort highlights the difference between their respective creators, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, with BMW being more driver-focused, and Mercedes being more comfort/luxury-focused.

Maybach symbol

Maybach symbol

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Tuesday 28th October 1913

103 years ago

Karl Rapp and Julius Auspitzer founded Karl Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH with a capital stock of RM 200.000 on the site of Flugwerke Deutschland. The company underwent numerous mergers and changes before becoming BMW AG.

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Tuesday 7th March 1916

101 years ago

The manufacturing firms of Karl Rapp and Gustav Otto merged to form the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (Bavarian Aircraft Works). The company would later become the Bayerische Motor-Werke (Bavarian Motor Works or BMW). BMW began as a manufacturer of aircraft engines. In 1923, BMW built its first motorcycle and six years later its first car, the Dixi, in a factory in Eisenach, Germany. BMW's team of engineers progressively developed their cars from small Seven-based cars into six-cylinder luxury cars and, in 1936, began production of the BMW 328 sports car. Aircraft engines, motorcycles, and automobiles would be BMW's main products until World War II. During the war, against the wishes of its director Franz Josef Popp, BMW concentrated on aircraft engine production, with motorcycles as a side line and automobile manufacture stopped altogether. After the war, BMW survived by making pots, pans, and bicycles until 1948, when it restarted motorcycle production. Meanwhile, BMW's factory in Eisenach fell in the Soviet occupation zone and the Soviets restarted production of pre-war BMW motorcycles and automobiles there. This continued until 1955, after which they concentrated on cars based on pre-war DKW designs. BMW began building cars in Bavaria in 1952 with the BMW 501 luxury saloon. Sales of their luxury saloons were too small to be profitable, so BMW supplemented this with building Isettas under licence. Slow sales of luxury cars and small profit margins from microcars caused the BMW board to consider selling the operation to Daimler-Benz. However, Herbert Quandt was convinced to purchase a controlling interest in BMW and to invest in its future. Quandt's investment, along with profits from the BMW 700, brought about the BMW New Class and BMW New Six. These new products, along with the absorption of Hans Glas GmbH, gave BMW a sure footing on which to expand. BMW grew in strength, eventually acquiring the Rover Group (most of which was later divested), and the license to build automobiles under the Rolls-Royce marque.

BMW Dixi

BMW Dixi

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Tuesday 13th August 1918

98 years ago

BMW AG was entered as a new company in the Commercial Register and took over from BMW GmbH all its manufacturing assets, order book and workforce.

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Sunday 27th May 1923

93 years ago

The first Le Mans 24-Hour race concluded. Winners Andre Lagache and Renee Leonard covered 1,372.928 miles in a 3 litre Chenard et Walcker. All races since then have been held in June, with the exceptions of 1956 (July) and 1968 (September). Traditionally, the race starts at 16:00 on the Saturday, although in 1984 the race started at 15:00 due to the conflicting French General Election. The race has been held every year since then with the exceptions of 1936, and between 1940 and 1948, when the Second World War intervened. In the original configuration, the race track used was 10.73 miles (17.26 km) long, and has subsequently been shortened on several occasions.The race has always been dominated by European names like Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, Jaguar, and Lotus. In recent years, BMW and Porsche have both posted fine results. Sadly, the race is most famous for the horrific crash that occurred there in 1955 when a Mercedes 300 SL flipped into the gallery, killing over 80 spectators. Since then, the danger of the race has made it a captivating subject for journalists and artists alike. The round-the-clock nature of the event makes it a unique experience for spectators and drivers alike. Two or three drivers normally race in four-hour shifts, and sleep is impossible. The course at Le Mans has changed gradually over the years, but some of its major landmarks have not changed. The three-mile Mulsanne straightaway that begins the race is perhaps most famous for its supreme length and, consequently, its speed. The straightaway ends in a gradual right-hand jog that, if driven at normal speeds, is nearly imperceptible. At over 200mph, the right-hand jog feels like a mine-bending curve. The course is dotted with various slow curves, s-turns, and high-speed turn sequences, all of which test the mettle of the car drivers. It's no wonder that in Le Mans' heyday in the '50s and '60s, the best drivers in the world raced there.

Chenard et Walcker - winning car of the 1923 Le Mans Prix d'Endurance

Chenard et Walcker - winning car of the 1923 Le Mans Prix d'Endurance

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Friday 28th September 1923

93 years ago

BMW exhibited the R32 to the public for the first time. It had a 500 cc air-cooled horizontally-opposed engine, a feature that would resonate among their various models for decades to come. The major innovation was the use of a driveshaft instead of a chain to drive the rear wheel. To this day the driveshaft and boxer engine are still used on BMW motorcycles.

BMW R32

BMW R32

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Thursday 19th September 1929

87 years ago

Ernst Henne riding a 750 cc super-charged BMW, based on the R63 750cc ohv model, set a new motorcycle record, reaching a speed of 134.65 mph (216.75 km/h). All in all, Ernst Henne’s BMW took 76 world records with the bike staying in a state of active development for 6 years between 1929 and 1935.The BMW R37 had a twin cylinder engine in a boxer configuration, the total capacity was 749cc and the bore/stroke was 83mm/68 mm. It’s estimated that with the supercharger installed, the engine was producing 100+hp, a staggeringly high number in 1929 and significantly higher than almost any road car of the era.

Ernst Henne's Supercharged BMW R37

Ernst Henne's Supercharged BMW R37

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Sunday 29th September 1929

87 years ago

Ernst Henne riding a 750 cc BMW sets a new motorcycle record, reaching a speed of 134.65 mph (216.75 km/hr).

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Monday 20th January 1930

87 years ago

The MG Car Company Ltd staged a grand inaugural luncheon at its new factory in Abington, England. In 1935, MG was sold by Morris to Morris Motors Limited, and at this time MG's competition activities ceased, while over the next 18 months, the product range was completely altered to re-align it with Morris and Wolseley. Although the MG Car Company as such became dormant, the MG factory at Abingdon survived as an operational unit into the British Leyland era. In the late 1970s it became part of British Leyland's Jaguar Rover Triumph subsidiary. From time to time the Abingdon factory also produced other makes of car for BMC/BL, such as Riley (1949-1957), Austin-Healey (1957-1971), some Morris Minors (1960-1964) and Vanden Plas 1500s (1979-1980). By a twist of fate, from 1959 onwards MG saloon cars production returned to Cowley, then later at Longbridge, rather than Abingdon. With the discontinuation of the MG Midget and MGB models in 1979-81, the factory was closed, and the Abingdon property disposed of. A and B Blocks are still extant, re-clad and part of the Abingdon Business Park. The Administration Block (known as "Top Office") still stands at the end of Cemetery Road. Cecil Kimber's home is now a pub - The Boundary House - in Oxford Road. Between 1982 and 1991, the MG badge re-appeared on sportier versions of Austin Rover's Metro, Maestro and Montego ranges. In 1992, the MG RV8 was launched, an up-dated MGB Roadster powered by a Rover V8 engine and produced in low volumes. In 1995, the completely new MG F two-seater roadster was launched, selling in volumes unthinkable since the 1970s. In 2000, then parent BMW sold the MG Rover Group to a consortium which used the MG badge on sportier Rover-based cars. Production ceased in April 2005 when MG Rover went into administration. The assets of MG Rover were bought by Chinese carmaker Nanjing Automobile in 2005, who themselves were bought by the Chinese company SAIC in 2007. In 2007 production of the MG TF roadster and MG 7 large sports saloon, derived from the Rover 75, started in China. Production of the MG TF re-started at Longbridge in small volumes in 2008.

MG Factory at Abingdon; ZA Magnette and MGA lines circa 1955

MG Factory at Abingdon; ZA Magnette and MGA lines circa 1955

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Monday 9th June 1930

86 years ago

S C H "Sammy" Davis established the first lap record to be recognised for the Mountains course at Brooklands. His supercharged Riley Nine lapped at 66.86 mph. As Sports Editor of The Autocar magazine, Davis aided his prewar motorcycling associate, W. O. Bentley, in starting his company. In 1921, Davis was invited by S. F. Edge to join Edge's Brooklands AC racing team, in between magazine deadlines, while in 1922 he was part of Aston Martin's effort to break no less than 32 world and class records at Weybridge.[3] Davis became one of the famous Bentley Boys of the late 1920s. He won the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright in 1927. Partnered with Dr. Benjafield, they covered 1,472.527 miles at an average speed of 61.354 mph (98.740 km/h). Motor Sport reported: "The victory, in spite of its accident of the crippled 3-litre Bentley driven by J.D. Benjafield and S.C.H. Davis, will always remain an epic, and even if the competition was not as keen as in the past, it is great thing to have won a race with a car which was damaged in the early part of the event." In 1928 he finished ninth overall at Le Mans on a 1½-litre front-wheel-drive Alvis. In 1925, Davis finished second at Le Mans with co-driver Jean Chassagne in a 3-litre twin cam Sunbeam, covering 1,343.2 mi (2,161.7 km), some 45 mi (72 km) behind the winner. Davis piloted a 3-litre Bentley at Le Mans in 1926, crashing in an attempt to take the lead only twenty minutes from the flag.[3] On 7 May 1927, Davis finished second in the Essex Car Club Six Hour race at Brooklands on an Alvis 12/50.[9] At Le Mans that year, Davis became the stuff of racing legend when, at the wheel of the 3-litre Bentley "Old Number Seven", he skidded into a pileup at White House and saw the chassis twist, but nevertheless went on to win.[3] Davis would enter the 1928 Le Mans, coming ninth at the wheel of a front wheel drive 1,500 cc (92 cu in) Alvis shared with Urquhart-Dykes. He would also come second at the 1929 Saorstat Cup, Phoenix Park, and at the Brooklands Double-Twelve (24 hours in two shifts, because the track was prohibited from holding racing at night) and 500 mi (800 km). In 1929, Davis finished second overall, and class winner, in the Brooklands Double Twelve on a 4,398 c.c. Bentley. He finished second again in 1930 on a 5,597 c.c. Bentley. At Le Mans in 1930 he met with misfortune, when his goggles were shattered by a stone, forcing his retirement; there were concerns he might be blinded.[12] On 4 October 1930, Davis was partnered with the Earl of March in an Austin Seven and they won the B.R.D.C. 500-mile race at Brooklands outright, at an average speed of 83.41 mph (134.24 km/h).[14] Also at Brooklands that year, Davis set several Class H records in the Seven, including a flying kilometre of 89.08 mph (143.36 km/h).[14] (For the kilometre, his co-driver was Charles Goodacre.) His efforts for the year earned him a BRDC Gold Star.[14] He also entered a Daimler Double-Six sleeve-valve V12 at Monte Carlo. He had a spectacular accident in a low-chassis Invicta S-type at Brooklands in 1931, skidding into a telegraph pole. In 1933 he finished ninth at Le Mans in an Aston Martin. At the 1935 Tourist Trophy, Davis' Singer Nine crashed due to a broken steering ball-joint. He hit Norman Black's Nine, which had crashed for the same reason at the same place.[14] Despite the severity of the crash, Davis was unhurt. On 15 April 1937, Davis drove a Frazer-Nash BMW round Brooklands, covering more than 100 mi (160 km) in an hour, at an average speed of 102.22 mph (164.51 km/h)[16] The same year, his Wolseley earned "a special award for being the best-equipped car to finish". He died on his 94th birthday.

S C H

S C H "Sammy" Davis

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Tuesday 1st March 1932

85 years ago

BMW cancelled its licensing agreement with Austin, opening the way for Max Friz to develop the first BMW of in-house design.

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Tuesday 15th March 1932

85 years ago

BMW cancelled its licensing agreement with Austin, opening the way for Max Friz to develop the first BMW of in house design.

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Monday 19th November 1934

82 years ago

Frazer Nash-BMW in Munich granted AFN the sole concession to import and sell BMW models in the United Kingdom and British Empire. The most popular model was the 2-seater 328, which continued to be produced after the war. As well as the V8-engined 502 and 503 models, AFN also handled imports of the Isetta bubble car. The last Frazer Nash-BMW was built in 1957, and the connections with Munich in 1960.

BMW 328

BMW 328

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Friday 15th February 1935

82 years ago

BMW’s stylistically and technologically innovative flagship model, the 70 mph BMW 326, was launched at the 26th German International Motor Show Berlin. Available as a saloon, a two-door and four-door convertible, it was the first BMW to sport a streamlined body, a hydraulic braking system and a concealed spare wheel. The car featured a 2 litre 6 cylinder engine with two carburettors, whose power of 50 bhp was transmitted to the wheels in 1st and 2nd gear by a partially synchronised four-speed transmission with freewheel. Daimler-Benz presented the new car models 170 V (W 136) and 170 H (W 28) as well as the model 260 D (W 138), the world's first series-produced diesel passenger car at the show.

BMW 326 (1936)

BMW 326 (1936)

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Thursday 4th July 1935

81 years ago

The British Ministry of Transport announced that dipped car headlights would become compulsory.The earliest headlamps were fueled by acetylene or oil, and were introduced in the late 1880s. Acetylene lamps were popular because the flame is resistant to wind and rain. The first electric headlamps were introduced in 1898 on the Columbia Electric Car from the Electric Vehicle Company of Hartford, Connecticut, and were optional. Two factors limited the widespread use of electric headlamps: the short life of filaments in the harsh automotive environment, and the difficulty of producing dynamos small enough, yet powerful enough to produce sufficient current. "Prest-O-Lite" acetylene lights were offered by a number of manufacturers as standard equipment for 1904, and Peerless made electric headlamps standard in 1908. Pockley Automobile Electric Lighting Syndicate based in the UK marketed the world's first electric car lights as a complete set in 1908, which consisted of headlamps, sidelamps and tail lights and were powered by an eight-volt battery. In 1912, Cadillac integrated their vehicle's Delco electrical ignition and lighting system, creating the modern vehicle electrical system. "Dipping" (low beam) headlamps were introduced in 1915 by the Guide Lamp Company, but the 1917 Cadillac system allowed the light to be dipped with a lever inside the car rather than requiring the driver to stop and get out. The 1924 Bilux bulb was the first modern unit, having the light for both low (dipped) and high (main) beams of a headlamp emitting from a single bulb. A similar design was introduced in 1925 by Guide Lamp called the "Duplo". In 1927, the foot-operated dimmer switch or dip switch was introduced and became standard for much of the century. 1933–34 Packards were equipped with tri-beam headlamps, the bulbs having three filaments. From highest to lowest, the beams were called "country passing", "country driving" and "city driving". The 1934 Nash also used a three-beam system, although in this case, the bulbs were conventional two-filament type, and the intermediate beam combined low beam on the driver's side with high beam on the passenger's side, so as to maximise the view of the roadside while minimizing glare toward oncoming traffic. The last vehicle with a foot-operated dimmer switch were the 1991 Ford F-Series and E-Series [Econoline] vans.[citation needed] Fog lamps were new for 1938 Cadillacs,[citation needed] and their 1954 "Autronic Eye" system automated the selection of high and low beams. Directional lighting was introduced in the rare, one-year-only 1935 Tatra 77a, and later popularised by the Citroen DS. This made it possible to turn the light in the direction of travel when the steering wheel was turned, and is now widely adopted technology. The standardised 7-inch (178 mm) round sealed beam headlamp was introduced in 1940, and was soon required (exactly two per car) for all vehicles sold in the United States, freezing usable lighting technology in place until the 1970s, for Americans. Because the law was written to prevent 'bad headlights,' it by design looks backwards and has historically not been able to deal with improved, innovative designs. In 1957, the law changed slightly, permitting Americans to possess vehicles with four 5.75-inch (146 mm) round sealed beam headlamps, and in 1974, these lights were permitted to be rectangular as well. Clear aerodynamic headlight covers were illegal in the U.S. until 1983, so a work-around was used for the U.S. market, the pop-up headlight. Britain, Australia, and some other Commonwealth countries, as well as Japan and Sweden, also made extensive use of 7-inch sealed beams, though they were not mandated as they were in the United States. This headlamp format was not widely accepted in continental Europe, which found replaceable bulbs and variations in the size and shape of headlamps useful in car design. This led to different front-end designs for each side of the Atlantic for decades. Technology moved forward in the rest of the world. The first halogen lamp for vehicle headlamp use, the H1, was introduced in 1962 by a European consortium of bulb and headlamp makers. Shortly thereafter, headlamps using the new light source were introduced in Europe. These were effectively prohibited in the US, where standard-size sealed beam headlamps were mandatory and intensity regulations were low. US lawmakers faced pressure to act, both due to lighting effectiveness and vehicle aerodynamics/fuel savings. High beam peak intensity, capped at 140,000 candela per side of the car in Europe, was limited in the United States to 37,500 candela on each side of the car until 1978, when the limit was raised to 75,000. An increase in high beam intensity to take advantage of the higher allowance could not be achieved without a move to halogen technology,and so sealed beam headlamps with internal halogen burners became available for use on 1979 models in the United States. Halogen sealed beams now dominate the sealed beam market, which has declined steeply since replaceable-bulb headlamps were permitted in 1983. High-intensity discharge (HID) systems were introduced in the early 1990s, first in the BMW 7-series. European and Japanese markets began to prefer HID headlamps, with as much as 50% market share in those markets,[citation needed] but they found slow adoption in North America. 1996's Lincoln Mark VIII was an early American effort at HIDs, and was the only car with DC HIDs. Since U.S. headlight regulations continue to be different from the ECE regulations in effect in the rest of the world, the disputes over technological innovation continue today, including over automatic dimming technology.

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Wednesday 22nd January 1936

81 years ago

Triumph cars and motorcycles became separate entities as the motorcycle company was sold to J.Y. "Jack" Sangster for £5000, who owned the rival Ariel motorcycle company. Triumph had found it difficult to make money from its cars, successful though they were. Jack Sangster began exporting Triumph motorcycles to the United States under the name of the Triumph Engineering Company Ltd. where the bikes became hugely popular. In 1939 the Triumph Motor Company, as in the car manufacturer, went into receivership and the company, including its assets, were offered for sale. The new owners placed Donald Healey in charge as general manager, but after World War Two broke out, and the Triumph factory was destroyed by German bombing, it seemed as though it was all over. In 1944 the Triumph brand name was bought by the Standard Motor Company and used to set up a subsidiary company called, Standard–Triumph, based at Standard’s factory at Canley, near Coventry. In 1946, Triumph launched the all new Triumph Roadster. The body of this car was constructed completely from aluminium on account of the post–war steel shortage and it remained in production until 1949. Shortly after the Triumph Roadster there followed the Triumph Renown and the The Triumph Roadster was the first all new car that Triumph launched after the war and had a body made from aluminium due to the post war steel shortage Triumph Mayflower saloons, but when Sir John Black retired in 1953, due to injuries sustained in a road collision, the two Triumph saloon cars were discontinued. That same year the successor to the Triumph Roadster was launched, albeit after a gap of some 4–years, and was simply called the Triumph TR2. This car had Standard–Triumph badges, but with the famous Triumph globe emblem on its wheel hubs. The TR2 was the first in a succession of Triumph TR’s, the last of which became discontinued in 1981.The first of the Triumph saloon cars was the Triumph Herald, launched in 1959. The car was designed by the famous Italian designer, Giovanni Michelotti, and marked the beginning of his long–lasting and close relationship between Giovanni Michelotti and the Triumph badge. Triumph became part of BMC and subsequently BL. The last Triumph model to be sold was the Acclaim, but this was no more than a rebadged Honda Ballade and built under license at the former Morris works at Cowley in Oxfordshire. The Triumph trademark is currently owned by German car maker, BMW, which it acquired in 1994 when BMW bought out the Rover Group. Triumph as a manufacturer of motorcycles, on the other hand, is still going strong today. Since being sold off by Triumph the car manufacturer in 1936, Triumph as a motorcycle manufacturer has changed ownership several times and limped from one financial crisis through another.However, the company has now grown into a successful business and trades under the name of Triumph Motorcycles (Hinckley) Ltd.

Triumph Speed Twin 1938

Triumph Speed Twin 1938

1954 Triumph TR2 Roadster

1954 Triumph TR2 Roadster

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Friday 20th March 1936

81 years ago

The BMW 326 made its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show, available in 3 versions: a 4-door limousine at a price of 5500 Reichsmark (RM), a 2-door cabriolet at 6550 RM, and a 4-door cabriolet at 7200 RM. The medium-sized saloon was produced by BMW between 1936 and 1941, and again briefly, under Soviet control, after 1945. The 326 was BMW's first four-door sedan.It had an innovative design and sold well despite its relatively high price. Designed by Fritz Fiedler, the 326 featured a box-section frame that could readily be adapted for derivative models.[citation needed] Also innovative were the torsion bar rear suspension, inspired by the dead axle suspension of the Citroën Traction Avant, and the hydraulic braking system, the first to be used on a BMW car. Styled by Peter Schimanowski, the 326 was offered as a four-door sedan and as a two- or four-door cabriolet. The 326 sedan was the first BMW available with four doors. The BMW 320, BMW 321, BMW 327, and BMW 335 were based on the 326. The streamlined form of the body contrasted with previous relatively upright BMWs: drag was presumably reduced further by including a fixed cover over the spare wheel at the back. The 1971 cc straight 6 engine was a version of the 319’s power plant, with the bore increased from 65 mm (2.6 in) to 66 mm (2.6 in), and an unchanged stroke[5] of 96 mm (3.8 in) giving a displacement of 1,971 cc (120.3 cu in). In the 326 application, it was fed by twin 26 mm Solex carburettors to produce a claimed maximum output of 50 PS (37 kW) at 3750 rpm. The top speed is 115 km/h (71 mph). The four-speed gear box was supported by freewheeling on the bottom ratios and synchromesh on the top two.

BMW 326

BMW 326

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Thursday 15th April 1937

79 years ago

S C H Davis driving a BMW 328 established an unofficial record of 102.22 miles in one hour at the Brooklands race circuit.

BMW 328

BMW 328

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Thursday 13th October 1938

78 years ago

Morris Series E Saloon and BMW 335 3-litre were launched at the 1938 London Motor Show

Morris Series E Saloon

Morris Series E Saloon

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Tuesday 2nd October 1945

71 years ago

BMW’s assets were seized and the US Army declared it subject to reparations. Production ceased, machines and equipment dismantled and the board of management forced to resign. The Spandau engine plant was destroyed, and the Eisenach factory, now in a Soviet-controlled region, was expropriated. BMW were 20 million marks in debt. The company was effectively frozen until 1948, when the US authorities finally lifted its production ban and allowed BMW to start making a new motorbike. The single-cylinder R24 restored the firm's fortunes, and enabled it to invest in a further programme of development. The first new car to emerge was the 501, presented at the 1951 Frankfurt Motor Show.

BMW R24

BMW R24

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Monday 31st December 1945

71 years ago

The Triumph Company was acquired by the Standard Motor Company for £75,000 and a subsidiary "Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited" was formed with production transferred to Standard's factory at Canley, on the outskirts of Coventry. Triumph's new owners had been supplying engines to Jaguar and its predecessor company since 1938. After an argument between Standard-Triumph Managing Director, Sir John Black, and William Lyons, the creator and owner of Jaguar, Black's objective in acquiring the rights to the name and the remnants of the bankrupt Triumph business was to build a car to compete with the soon to be launched post-war Jaguars.[ The pre-war Triumph models were not revived and in 1946 a new range of Triumphs was announced, starting with the Triumph Roadster. The Roadster had an aluminium body because steel was in short supply and surplus aluminium from aircraft production was plentiful. The same engine was used for the 1800 Town and Country saloon, later named the Triumph Renown, which was notable for the styling chosen by Standard-Triumph's managing director Sir John Black. A similar style was also used for the subsequent Triumph Mayflower light saloon. All three of these models prominently sported the "globe" badge that had been used on pre-war models. When Sir John was forced to retire from the company this range of cars was discontinued without being replaced directly, sheet aluminium having by now become a prohibitively expensive alternative to sheet steel for most auto-industry purposes. In the early 1950s it was decided to use the Triumph name for sporting cars and the Standard name for saloons and in 1953 the Triumph TR2 was initiated, the first of the TR series of sports cars that would be produced until 1981. Curiously, the TR2 had a Standard badge on its front and the Triumph globe on its hubcaps. Standard had been making a range of small saloons named the Standard Eight and Ten, and had been working on their replacements. The success of the TR range meant that Triumph was considered a more marketable name than Standard, and the new car was introduced in 1959 as the Triumph Herald. The last Standard car to be made in the UK was replaced in 1963 by the Triumph 2000. Standard-Triumph was bought by Leyland Motors Ltd. in December 1960; Donald Stokes became chairman of the Standard-Triumph division in 1963. Further mergers resulted in the formation of British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. Triumph set up an assembly facility in Speke, Liverpool in 1959 gradually increasing the size of the most modern factory of the company to the point that it could fully produce 100,000 cars per year. However, only a maximum of 30,000 cars was ever produced as the plant was never put to full production use, being used largely as an assembly plant.[7] During the 1960s and '70s Triumph sold a succession of Michelotti-styled saloons and sports cars, including the advanced Dolomite Sprint, which, in 1973, already had a 16-valve four-cylinder engine. It is alleged that many Triumphs of this era were unreliable, especially the 2.5 PI (petrol injection) with its fuel injection problems. In Australia, the summer heat caused petrol in the electric fuel pump to vapourise, resulting in frequent malfunctions. Although the injection system had proven itself in international competition, it lacked altitude compensation to adjust the fuel mixture at altitudes greater than 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level. The Lucas system proved unpopular: Lucas did not want to develop it further, and Standard-Triumph dealers were reluctant to attend the associated factory and field-based training courses. For most of its time under Leyland or BL ownership the Triumph marque belonged in the Specialist Division of the company which went by the names of Rover Triumph and later Jaguar Rover Triumph, except for a brief period during the mid-1970s when all BL's car marques or brands were grouped together under the name of Leyland Cars.The only all-new Triumph model initiated as Rover Triumph was the TR7, which had the misfortune to be in production successively at three factories that were closed: Speke, the poorly run Leyland-era Standard-Triumph works in Liverpool,[7] the original Standard works at Canley, Coventry and finally the Rover works in Solihull. Plans for an extended range based on the TR7, including a fastback variant codenamed "Lynx", were ended when the Speke factory closed. The four-cylinder TR7 and its short-lived eight-cylindered derivative the TR8 were terminated when the road car section of the Solihull plant was closed (the plant continues to build Land Rovers.The last Triumph model was the Acclaim, introduced in 1981 and essentially a rebadged Honda Ballade built under licence from Japanese company Honda at the former Morris Motors works in Cowley, Oxford. The Triumph name disappeared in 1984, when the Acclaim was replaced by the Rover 200, a rebadged version of Honda's next generation Civic/Ballade model. The BL car division was by then named Austin Rover Group which also ended the Morris marque as well as Triumph. The trademark is owned currently by BMW, which acquired Triumph when it bought the Rover Group in 1994. When it sold Rover, it kept the Triumph marque. The Phoenix Consortium, which bought Rover, tried to buy the Triumph brand, but BMW refused, saying that if Phoenix insisted, it would break the deal. The Standard marque was transferred to British Motor Heritage Limited. The Standard marque is still retained by British Motor Heritage who also have the licence to use the Triumph marque in relation to the sale of spares and service of the existing 'park' of Triumph cars.The Triumph name has been retained by BMW along with Riley, and Mini. In late 2007, the magazine Auto Express, after continued rumours that Triumph be revived with BMW ownership, featured a story showing an image of what a new version of the TR4 might look like. BMW has not commented officially on this.

Triumph advert - 1937

Triumph advert - 1937

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Sunday 2nd March 1947

70 years ago

Stirling Moss at the age of 18 entered his first official race, the Harrow Car Club Trial, at the wheel of a BMW 328.

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Thursday 6th September 1951

65 years ago

The BMW 501, the first motor car to be manufactured and sold by BMW after the Second World War, was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Under the bodywork, there was the old six-cylinder engine and all-new independent suspension. It was a good car, but Mercedes-Benz was producing better cars and selling them for less money. BMW improved the 501 during its life, first with the 501A, then the 501/3, and the model eventually evolved into the V8-powered 502 – a much better machine. These cars weren’t the saving of BMW, but they allowed it to stay in business during a time that saw off plenty of seemingly more stable car companies.

BMW 501

BMW 501

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Sunday 17th August 1952

64 years ago

Alberto Ascari driving a Ferrari 500 won the Dutch Grand Prix (F2) held at Zandvoort. The ERA made its final Formula 1 appearance, but the G Type designed by David Hodkin and driven by Stirling Moss was forced to retire. The Frazer-Nash also made its final appearance, but the 421, patterned on the pre-World War II BMW 328 by designer H J Aldington and driven by Ken Wharton, retired with transmission problems.

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Sunday 2nd August 1953

63 years ago

The German Grand Prix at Nürburgring was won by Nino Farina in a Ferrari, just over 1 minute ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio. This was Farina's last victory in Formula One. Hans Herrmann made his racing debut, finishing ninth in his privately owned Veritas Meteor. The EMW, manufactured in Eisenach, DDR and based largely on the pre-World War II BMW Type 238, made its only Formula 1 appearance, but Edgar Barth retired with exhaust problems.

Nino Farina

Nino Farina

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Sunday 2nd August 1953

63 years ago

Ernst Loof, the pre-World War II German motorcycle racing champion, best remembered as a designer for BMW and Veritas, made his only Formula 1 appearance as a driver in the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, but his Veritas Meteor retired with a faulty fuel pump.

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Thursday 11th March 1954

63 years ago

BMW introduced the BMW 502 saloon at the Geneva Motor Show. The new car featured BMW's new light-metal 2.6 liter V-8, the most modern of its day and Germany's first eight since the War. The 502, although available in saloon, coupe and cabriolet, was never produced in great numbers. The published top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph) was far higher than that of the first six-cylinder version of the Ponton Mercedes launched the same year. At the time of its introduction the 502 was reportedly Germany's fastest passenger sedan in regular production. Maserati also unveiled its A6G-2000.

BMW 502

BMW 502

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Thursday 29th July 1954

62 years ago

Franz Josef Popp (68) was one of three men responsible for the founding of BMW AG and the First General Director of BMW AG from 1922 to 1942, died.

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Saturday 5th March 1955

62 years ago

BMW unveiled their latest product, the BMW Isetta Motocoupé before the assembled press at the opulent lakeside Hotel Bachmair in Rottach-Egern, Germany. The journalists were shown a two-seater, but one which was unlike any sports car. Fritz Fiedler, then BMW’s Head of Vehicle Development, summed it up in his opening speech: “With the BMW Isetta Motocoupé, the public are being offered an economical type of car and a concept that is quite novel in Germany.” Indeed, no vehicle like it had been seen before on German roads: a tiny, almost spherical car with windows all round – and a single door at the front.

BMW Isetta Motocoupé

BMW Isetta Motocoupé

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Thursday 22nd September 1955

61 years ago

The BMW 507 was launched at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show. Initially intended to be exported to the United States at a rate of thousands per year, it ended up being too expensive, resulting in a total production figure of 252 cars and heavy losses for BMW. Several notable personalities have owned 507s. In 1959, while stationed in Germany on duty with the US Army, Elvis Presley bought a white 507. Presley's car, no. 70079, had earlier been used as a press demonstrator by BMW and raced by Hans Stuck.

BMW 507

BMW 507

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Saturday 3rd March 1956

61 years ago

Ernst Loof (48) died in Bonn Germany. A multiple motorcycle champion prior to the war, Loof also worked as a BMW engineer and built the special 328 coupe which Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Baumer used to win the truncated 1940 Mille Miglia. After the war Loof established himself quite a reputation as designer of the Veritas cars and drove one of these BMW-engined machines in the 1953 German Grand Prix. He later developed a brain tumor and died after a long illness.

Ernst Loof

Ernst Loof

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Saturday 26th May 1962

54 years ago

Karl Friedrich Rapp (80), the founder and owner of the Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH in Munich, died. In time this company became BMW AG. He is acknowledged by BMW AG as an indirect founder of the company.

Karl Friedrich Rapp

Karl Friedrich Rapp

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Monday 7th March 1966

51 years ago

BMW AG celebrated its 50th anniversary. Gerhard Wilcke, then Chairman of the Board, presented to the guests invited to the Bayerische Staatsoper a new model, the BMW 1600-2.

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Tuesday 14th May 1968

48 years ago

British Leyland Motor Corporation, Ltd was formed through the 1968 merger of British Motor Holdings Ltd. and Leyland Motor Corp. Ltd. to create the entities known as British Leyland Motor Corporation, Ltd. (1968–75), and British Leyland Limited (1975–78). It was renamed BL PLC in 1978. With headquarters in London, the company had interests in about 95 percent of the British automotive industry, and it manufactured vehicles ranging from commercial trucks and buses to private automobiles, construction equipment, and engines.Leyland, initially the dominant partner in the merger, was the first British manufacturer to concentrate on commercial vehicles. James Sumner of Leyland, Lancashire, built his first steam-driven wagon in 1884; and in 1896 he allied with the wealthy Spurrier family to set up the Lancashire Steam Motor Company, renamed Leyland Motors Ltd. in 1907, after its first experiments with gasoline engines. Except briefly in 1920–23, the company did not produce automobiles until 1961, when it acquired Triumph Motor Co. Ltd. (Triumph had begun in 1903 as a motorcycle manufacturer and began making cars in 1923.) In 1966 Leyland merged with another car manufacturer, The Rover Co. Ltd. (founded 1904), and the combined companies became Leyland Motor Corp. Ltd. The first chairman of the new British Leyland in 1968, Donald Gresham Stokes, Baron Stokes, had also been the old Leyland’s last chairman. British Motor Holdings Ltd. had a much more complex history, but basically it grew out of three auto manufacturers: Morris, Austin, and Jaguar. Early in the 20th century William Richard Morris (later 1st Viscount Nuffield) founded a garage in Oxford, which after 1910 became known as Morris Garages Limited. In the 1920s, with Cecil Kimber as general manager, it began producing the popular M.G. cars, which were manufactured until 1980, when they were discontinued because of rising production costs. The M.G. Car Company was created in 1927 and was absorbed by another Morris car company, Morris Motors Ltd., in 1935. In that same year, another organization, Wolseley Motors Ltd. (founded in 1901 and taken over by Morris in 1927), was similarly absorbed. In 1952 another venerable car manufacturer, Austin Motor Co. Ltd. (founded in 1905 by Herbert Austin), merged with Morris Motors to form British Motor Corporation Ltd. It continued to turn out Austin, Morris, M.G., and Wolseley cars and the highly successful “Mini” series. Although production of the Mini Cooper ended in 1971, the model was relaunched in 1990 and by 2001 was selling internationally through parent company Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW). The first Jaguar car was produced in 1936 by S.S. Cars Ltd. (founded 1932 in Coventry), which was renamed Jaguar Cars Ltd. in 1945 both to avoid the accidental reminder of the German SS and to highlight the name of the make that had proved to be most successful. Jaguar in 1960 bought Daimler Co. Ltd. (founded 1893), makers of limousines and other prestige cars; and in 1961 it bought Guy Motors Ltd. (founded 1919), a commercial-vehicle manufacturer. In 1966 Jaguar amalgamated with the Austin-Morris interests (i.e., the British Motor Corporation) to form British Motor Holdings Ltd., which two years later merged with Leyland to become British Leyland; in 1984 Jaguar was sold. With two successive name changes, British Leyland became BL Limited in 1979. The company assumed its current name in 1982. In 1981 BL entered into a joint venture with Honda Motor Company, Ltd., of Japan to produce Japanese-designed Triumph Acclaims in the United Kingdom. BL began selling its interests in the 1980s, and by 1990 the Ford Motor Company had acquired full ownership of Jaguar. BMW purchased Rover in 1994 but later sold the sport utility vehicle (SUV) brand to Ford, which continued to develop the Land Rover line of SUVs as part of its Premier Automotive Group. That group also comprised Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Volvo.

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Friday 31st May 1968

48 years ago

British Motor Holdings (BMH) merged with LMVC (Leyland Motor Vehicle Corporation) to become British Leyland Motor Corporation. It was partly nationalised in 1975, when the UK government created a holding company called British Leyland, later BL, in 1978. It incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle industry, which constituted 40 percent of the UK car market, with roots going back to 1895. Despite containing profitable marques such as Jaguar, Rover and Land Rover, as well as the best-selling Mini, British Leyland had a troubled history. In 1986 it was renamed as the Rover Group, later to become MG Rover Group, which went into administration in 2005, bringing mass car production by British-owned manufacturers to an end. MG and the Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques became part of China's SAIC, with whom MG Rover attempted to merge prior to administration. Today, MINI, Jaguar Land Rover and Leyland Trucks (now owned by BMW Group, TATA and Paccar, respectively) are the three most prominent former parts of British Leyland which are still active in the automotive industry, with SAIC-owned MG Motor continuing a small presence at the Longbridge site. Certain other related ex-BL businesses, such as Unipart), continue to operate independently.

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Wednesday 22nd October 1969

47 years ago

The Datsun 240Z sportscar was introduced. The first draft of the Datsun 240Z was created by German car designer Dr. Albrecht Graf von Goertz, a man who co-designed both the BMW 507 and the Porsche 911. The car was to be a joint project between Datusn and Yamaha but a lasting agreement couldn’t be reached and as such, plans for the car were put on ice. Nissan’s Chief Designer Yoshihiko Matsuo couldn’t bear to see the project on the shelf for too long and finally managed to get approval to build the car as a 100% Nissan project. The original design was modified but the influences of both the E-Type Jaguar and Porsche 911 are still quite apparent in the finished styling. Performance from its rorty 2.4-litre power unit that owed a lot to the BMC C-Series and well as Mercedes-Benz's straight-six, was more than ample. Being a Datsun, reliability was a given, but the agile (if tail-happy) handling was a pleasant surprise. During its five year run, more than 150,000 were produced, but survivors are now seriously appreciating. Rust has been its main enemy, so be careful when buying, even if you're buying a restored example.

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Sunday 15th April 1973

43 years ago

Ernst Klodwig died aged 69. Klodwig was a front-runner in the East German Championship with his self-built rear engined special. The government allowed him to take part in two German Grand Prix appearances in the West, 1952 and 1953, and that’s when Klodwig entered F1 stats as the first driver ever to race a rear engined car in the World Championship when he entered his own design, the Heckmotor-Eigenbau which was actually a 30's Auto Union inspired Formula 2 car featuring a BMW 328 engine.

Ernst Klodwig

Ernst Klodwig

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Friday 14th September 1973

43 years ago

The BMW 2002i of Achim Warmbold and Jean Todt won the Rally Australia. After a successful career as a rally co-driver Todt made his reputation in motor sport management, first with Peugeot Talbot Sport, then with Scuderia Ferrari, before being appointed Chief Executive Officer of Ferrari from 2004 to 2008. Since October 23, 2009 he has been President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).

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Sunday 14th October 1973

43 years ago

Jackie Stewart announced his retirement from motor racing. While he signed with BRM alongside Graham Hill in 1965, a contract which netted him £4,000, his first race in an F1 car was for Lotus, as stand-in for an injured Clark, at the Rand Grand Prix in December 1964; the Lotus broke in the first heat, but he won the second. On his F1 debut in South Africa, he scored his first Championship point, finishing sixth. His first major competition victory came in the BRDC International Trophy in the late spring, and before the end of the year he won his first World Championship race at Monza, fighting wheel-to-wheel with teammate Hill's P261.[9] Stewart finished his rookie season with three seconds, a third, a fifth, and a sixth, and third place in the World Drivers' Championship. He also piloted Tyrrell's unsuccessful F2 Cooper T75-BRM, and ran the Rover Company's revolutionary turbine car at Le Mans. 1966 saw him almost win the Indianapolis 500 on his first attempt, in John Mecom's Lola T90-Ford, only to be denied by a broken scavenge pump while leading by over a lap with eight laps to go. However, Stewart's performance, having had the race fully in hand, sidelined only by mechanical failure, won him Rookie of the Year honours despite the winner, Graham Hill, also being an Indianapolis rookie. At the start of the 1966 season, Stewart won the Australasian 8 round championship from his BRM teammate Graham Hill in 2 litre BRMs and also raced closely with his great rival and friend Jim Clark who was somewhat disadvantaged by an unreliable Lotus 39 which was let down by old Climax 2.5s. Also, in 1966, a crash triggered his fight for improved safety in racing. On lap one of the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, when sudden rain caused many crashes, he found himself trapped in his overturned BRM, getting soaked by leaking fuel. The marshals had no tools to help him, and it took his teammate Hill and Bob Bondurant, who had also crashed nearby, to get him out after borrowing a spanner from a spectator's car. Since then, a main switch to disconnect electrics and a removable steering wheel have become standard. Also, noticing the long and slow transport to a hospital, he brought his own doctor to future races, while BRM supplied a medical truck for the benefit of all. Stewart also began keeping a spanner taped to his steering wheel. It was a poor year all around; the BRMs were unreliable, although Stewart did win the Monaco Grand Prix. Stewart had some success in other forms of racing during the year, winning the 1966 Tasman Series and the 1966 Rothmans 12 Hour International Sports Car Race. BRM's fortunes did not improve in 1967, despite closely contesting the Tasman championship with Jim Clark who in a Lotus 33 probably raced closer and harder with Jackie than at any time in their careers. While Clark usually won, Stewart won a classic victory in the NZGP with Clark attempting to run him down in the last laps with bodywork flying off the 33. Stewart came no higher than second at Spa, though he won F2 events for Tyrrell at Karlskoga, Enna, Oulton Park, and Albi in a Matra MS5 or MS7. He also placed 2nd driving a works-entered Ferrari driving with Chris Amon at the BOAC 6 Hours at Brands Hatch, the 10th round of World Sportscar Championship at the time. Stewart also did the 1967 National 500 NASCAR race but did not qualify for the race. In Formula One, he switched to Tyrrell's Matra International team, where he drove a Matra MS10-Cosworth for the 1968 and 1969 seasons. Skill (and improving tyres from Dunlop)[10] brought a win in heavy rain at Zandvoort. Another win in rain and fog at the Nürburgring, where he won by a margin of four minutes. He also won at Watkins Glen, but missed Jarama and Monaco due to an F2 injury at Jarama.His car failed at Mexico City, and so he lost the drivers' title to Hill. In 1969, Stewart had a number of races where he completely dominated the opposition, such as winning by over 2 laps at Montjuïc, a minute at Clemont-Ferrand and more than a lap at Silverstone. With additional wins at Kyalami, Zandvoort, and Monza, Stewart became world champion in 1969 in a Matra MS80-Cosworth. Until September 2005, when Fernando Alonso in a Renault became champion, he was the only driver to have won the championship driving for a French marque and, as Alonso's Renault was built in the UK, Stewart remains the only driver to win the world championship in a French-built car. For 1970, Matra insisted on using their own V12 engines, while Tyrrell and Stewart wanted to keep the Cosworths as well as the good connection to Ford. As a consequence, the Tyrrell team bought a chassis from March Engineering; Stewart took the March 701-Cosworth to wins at the Daily Mail Race of Champions and Jarama, but was soon overcome by Lotus' new 72. The new Tyrrell 001-Cosworth, appearing in August, suffered problems, but Stewart saw better days for it in 1971, and stayed on. Tyrrell continued to be sponsored by French fuel company Elf, and Stewart raced in a car painted French Racing Blue for many years. Stewart also continued to race sporadically in Formula Two, winning at Crystal Palace and placing at Thruxton. A projected Le Mans appearance, to co-drive the 4.5 litre Porsche 917K with Steve McQueen, did not come off, for McQueen's inability to get insurance. He also raced Can-Am, in the revolutionary Chaparral 2J. Stewart achieved pole position in 2 events, ahead of the dominant McLarens, but the chronic unreliability of the 2J prevented Stewart from finishing any races. Stewart went on to win the Formula One world championship in 1971 using the Tyrrell 003-Cosworth, winning Spain, Monaco, France, Britain, Germany, and Canada. He also did a full season in Can-Am, driving a Carl Haas sponsored Lola T260-Chevrolet. and again in 1973. During the 1971 Can-Am series, Stewart was the only driver able to challenge the McLarens driven by Dennis Hulme and Peter Revson. Stewart won 2 races; at Mont Tremblant and Mid Ohio. Stewart finished 3rd in the 1971 Can-Am Drivers Championship. The stress of racing year round, and on several continents eventually caused medical problems for Stewart. During the 1972 Grand Prix season he missed the Belgian Grand Prix at Nivelles due to gastritis, and had to cancel plans to drive a Can-Am McLaren, but won the Argentine, French, U.S., and Canadian Grands Prix, to come second to Emerson Fittipaldi in the drivers' standings. Stewart also competed in a Ford Capri RS2600 in the European Touring Car Championship, with F1 teammate François Cevert and other F1 pilots, at a time where the competition between Ford and BMW was at a height. Stewart shared a Capri with F1 Tyrrell teammate François Cevert in the 1972 6 hours of Paul Ricard, finishing second. He also received an OBE. Entering the 1973 season, Stewart had decided to retire. He nevertheless won at South Africa, Belgium, Monaco, the Netherlands, and Austria. His last (and then record-setting) 27th victory came at the Nürburgring with a 1–2 for Tyrrell. "Nothing gave me more satisfaction than to win at the Nürburgring and yet, I was always afraid." Stewart later said. "When I left home for the German Grand Prix I always used to pause at the end of the driveway and take a long look back. I was never sure I'd come home again." After the fatal crash of his teammate François Cevert in practice for the 1973 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Stewart retired one race earlier than intended and missed what would have been his 100th Grand Prix. Nevertheless, Stewart still won the drivers' championship for the year. Stewart held the record for most wins by a Formula One driver (27) for 14 years until Alain Prost won the 1987 Portuguese Grand Prix, and the record for most wins by a British Formula One driver for 19 years until Nigel Mansell won the 1992 British Grand Prix.

Jackie Stewart

Jackie Stewart

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Friday 2nd May 1975

41 years ago

Production began of the BMW E21 platform, designation for the first BMW 3 Series compact executive car. This series was the immediate successor to the BMW 2002 and was superseded by the BMW E30 platform.

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Monday 11th August 1975

41 years ago

British Leyland was nationalised. It incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle industry, which constituted 40 percent of the UK car market, with roots going back to 1895. Despite containing profitable marques such as Jaguar, Rover and Land Rover, as well as the best-selling Mini, British Leyland had a troubled history. In 1986 it was renamed as the Rover Group, later to become MG Rover Group, which went into administration in 2005, bringing mass car production by British-owned manufacturers to an end. MG and the Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques became part of China's SAIC, with whom MG Rover attempted to merge prior to administration. Today, MINI, Jaguar Land Rover and Leyland Trucks (now owned by BMW Group, TATA and Paccar, respectively) are the three most prominent former parts of British Leyland which are still active in the automotive industry, with SAIC-owned MG Motor continuing a small presence at the Longbridge site. Certain other related ex-BL businesses, such as Unipart), continue to operate independently.

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Sunday 1st February 1976

41 years ago

British drivers Brian Redman and John Fitzpatrick along with Peter Greg of the US won the Daytona 24 Hour driving a BMW 3.0 CSL

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Thursday 17th March 1977

40 years ago

The Lamborghini Cheetah – Lamborghini’s first attempt at an off-road vehicle that wasn’t a tractor was presented at the ’77 Geneva Motor Show. It was built on contract from Mobility Technology International (MTI), which in turn was contracted by the US military to design and build a new all-terrain vehicle. The basis of the design came from MTI, and was largely a copy of FMC's XR311 prototype developed for the military in 1970. This resulted in legal action from FMC against MTI and Lamborghini in 1977. The Cheetah was built in San Jose, California. After initial construction, the prototype was sent to Sant'Agata so Lamborghini could put on the finishing touches. They decided to go with a large, waterproofed 180 bhp 5.9L Chrysler engine, rear mounted, with a 3 speed automatic transmission. The body was fiberglass, and inside there was enough room for four fully equipped soldiers as well as the driver. The mounting of the engine in the rear gave the Cheetah very poor handling characteristics, and the engine choice was not powerful enough to be adequate for the heavy vehicle (2,042 kilograms (4,502 lb)), resulting in overall poor performance. The only finished prototype was never tested by the US military, only demonstrated to them by its designer, Rodney Pharis. It was later sold to Teledyne Continental Motors by MTI and is apparently still in the US. In the end, the military contract was awarded to AM General and their similar looking Humvee. The failure of the Cheetah project, along with Lamborghini financial problems, led to the cancellation of a contract from BMW to develop their M1 sports car.

Lamboughini Cheetah

Lamboughini Cheetah

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Saturday 29th July 1978

38 years ago

The spectacular Group 5 Zakspeed Capri was introduced to the world at the support race for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on this date - half way through that year’s DRM championship.The car retained very little of the Capri, the roof and pillars as well as some parts of the rear end. The body mainly consisted of aluminium profiles and 80 metres of aluminium tubing. The turbocharged Cosworth engine puts out approximately 530 PS (390 kW) at 9200 rpm with 1.4 bar charge; 1.6 bars were available for short periods for an extra 70 PS (51 kW). It was dressed in black and the red/yellow colours of Zakspeed’s main sponsors Mampe Halb und Halb. The blue oval also featured prominently. Despite only one day's testing, the car was fastest of all around the Hockenhem circuit in the hands of Hans Heyer. As if to underline the potential of the car, Heyer took pole position by 4 seconds from the championship leading BMW 320 of Harald Ertl. In the race the car lead briefly but only completed 5 laps, succumbing to an engine faliure right in front of the Zakspeed/Ford hospitality box! Heyer is quoted as saying, “This is a beautiful car. With 50% of the weight at either end it handles really good. Itís six seconds faster than our Escort per lap! Everywhere you are going at least 30km/h faster into the corners.” In the rest of the 1978 season, Heyer took 3 more poles and a first victory for the Capri at the Nurburgring in October.

Zakspeed Capri

Zakspeed Capri

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Monday 10th September 1979

37 years ago

British Leyland (BL) announced it was to end production of all MG models. The history of the marque has been a bumpy one since the creation of the brand in 1924 by Cecil Kimber, who chose the letters MG as a tribute to William Morris, the owner of Morris Garages.The original MGs – known as Morris Garage Chummies – were made by fitting tourer bodies to Morris Cowley chassis. Purists, however, say the first true MG was the 14/28 sports model, which was also the first to sport the distinctive octagonal logo.Originally the cars were built in Oxford, but production was shifted a few miles south to Abingdon in 1929, where it continued until the plant was closed amid huge protests in 1980. The Prince of Wales was one of a number of distinguished MG owners. His first car was a cobalt blue MGC GT, which was bought in January 1968. Ironically on the day the Abingdon plant shut, he was performing the official opening of British Leyland’s Mini Metro plant in Longbridge, where MGs had also been produced since 1962. The closure of Abingdon also stopped production of the much loved two-seater sports cars, even though the brand was kept alive by Austin Rover, who stuck the badge on an array of unimpressive saloon cars and hatchbacks. These Metros, Maestros and Montegos may have been sportier than their conventional counterparts, but they were not true MGs and did not attract the devotion of the MGB, which had become the world’s top selling sports car. “The marque has a great deal of affection, but has not been treated particularly well,” said Chris Seaward of the MG Car Club. It has been passed from house to house.” In 1995, when the MG was owned by BMW, the MGF – a proper sports car in line with the marque’s heritage was launched. It was hugely successful. In 2000 BMW sold the business to the Rover group which stuck the MG badge on some Rovers, as well as continuing to produce sports cars. It was not a happy period with the company going into receivership and production stopping after an ill-fated rescue attempt by the so-called Phoenix Four, which made huge amounts for the businessmen involved but not for the staff on the Longbridge production line. In April 2005 the MG MG Rover Group went into administration, after which it was bought by NAC China’s oldest carmaker. Production restarted in 2007 in China, and later at Longbridge plant in the UK under the current manufacturer MG Motor. The first all-new model from MG in the UK for 16 years, the MG 6, was officially launched on 26 June 2011.

MG's logo since 2006

MG's logo since 2006

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Sunday 24th May 1981

35 years ago

Hans J. Stuck and Nelson Piquet teamed in a BMW M1 to win a tragic World Sports Car 'ADAC 1000 Kilometers-Rennen' shortened by the fatal crash of Swiss veteran Herbert Muller. Muller (41), co-drove to two victories in the 'Targa Florio' (1966 and 1973).

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Saturday 17th December 1983

33 years ago

The Ford Continental Mark VII introduced. It was available in a base trim level, Designer Edition (Bill Blass Edition and Versace Edition). A new sport-oriented upper trim level was introduced with this generation, called the LSC (Luxury Sports Coupe). Alongside the standard 140 hp 5.0L V8 shared with the Ford Mustang is a 114 hp 2.4L turbocharged diesel inline-6 obtained from BMW to offer a more fuel efficient engine offering; all Mark VIIs came with a 4-speed automatic transmission. It had a lengthy standard equipment list, including an onboard trip computer / message centre and digital instruments (on all except the LSC models after 1986). Mark VII's also came with full air suspension at all four wheels. The Mark VII also had the distinction of being the first American vehicle since 1940 with composite headlights and it was the first of the Lincoln Mark models to have exposed headlights since 1968, and the introduction of the Lincoln Continental Mark III coupe.

Ford Continental Mark VII

Ford Continental Mark VII

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Sunday 12th February 1984

33 years ago

Austin Rover announced that the Triumph marque would be discontinued in the summer after 63 years, as the Triumph Acclaim's successor would be sold as a Rover. The trademark is owned currently by BMW, which acquired Triumph when it bought the Rover Group in 1994. When it sold Rover, it kept the Triumph marque. The Phoenix Consortium, which bought Rover, tried to buy the Triumph brand, but BMW refused, saying that if Phoenix insisted, it would break the deal. The Standard marque was transferred to British Motor Heritage Limited. The Standard marque is still retained by British Motor Heritage who also have the licence to use the Triumph marque in relation to the sale of spares and service of the existing 'park' of Triumph cars. The Triumph name has been retained by BMW along with Riley, and Mini. In late 2007, the magazine Auto Express, after continued rumours that Triumph be revived with BMW ownership, featured a story showing an image of what a new version of the TR4 might look like. BMW has never commented officially on this.

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Sunday 24th June 1984

32 years ago

Starting on pole, Nelson Piquet in a Brabham BMW led from flag to flag at the Detroit Grand Prix and held off a brilliant charge by first-year driver Martin Brundle in the normally aspirated Tyrrell to win by less than a second.

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Saturday 14th September 1985

31 years ago

The BMW 8 Series debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) , Also introduced were the Rolls Royce Corniche III, Silver Spirit II and Silver Spur II.

Rolls Royce Corniche III

Rolls Royce Corniche III

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Thursday 31st October 1985

31 years ago

Some of the conspicuous exhibits at the 26th Tokyo Motor Show included the Porsche 959, BMW M3, Benz 190E 2.3-16, a concept car Citroen Eole, and Saab 900 Turbo 16 EV-1 equipped with 60 solar cells for starting the motor. The lineup of European superstar cars was really spectacular. GM displayed a Cadillac with the steering wheel on the right for the Japanese market, which kicked off its full-scale export strategy for Japan.

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Thursday 12th June 1986

30 years ago

Austin-Rover was renamed the Rover Group. It initially included the Austin Rover Group car business (comprising the Austin, Rover, Mini and MG marques), Land Rover Group, Freight Rover vans and Leyland Trucks. The Rover Group was owned by British Aerospace (BAe) from 1988 to 1994, when BAe sold the remaining car business to the German company BMW. The group was further broken up in 2000, when Ford acquired the Land Rover division, with the Rover and MG marques continuing with the much smaller MG Rover Group until 2005. Ownership of the original Rover Group marques is currently split between BMW (Germany), SAIC (China), and Tata Motors (India).

Rover Group logo 1986

Rover Group logo 1986

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Sunday 5th April 1987

29 years ago

Jim Richards, driving a BMW M3, won the Australian Touring Car Championship race at Lakeside, Queensland, Australia.

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Sunday 21st June 1987

29 years ago

Jim Richards drove a BMW M3 to victory in the Australian Touring Car Championship race at Amaroo Park in New South Wales, Australia.

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Friday 11th September 1987

29 years ago

BMW officially presented the 2.5 litre Z1 two-seater roadster at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Initial demand was so fierce that BMW had 5,000 orders before production began. Demand dropped significantly within few years and BMW ended production in 1991.

BMW Z1

BMW Z1

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Sunday 9th October 1988

28 years ago

Felix Wankel, the only twentieth-century engineer to have designed an internal-combustion engine which went into production, passed away at the age of 86 in Lindau, Germany, where he did much of his research and where Wankel Research and Development is still located. During World War II, Wankel developed seals and rotary valves for German air force aircraft and navy torpedoes, for BMW and Daimler-Benz. After the war, in 1945, he was imprisoned by France for some months, his laboratory was closed by French occupation troops, his work was confiscated, and he was prohibited from doing more work. However, by 1951, he got funding from the Goetze AG company to furnish the new Technical Development Center in his private house in Lindau on Lake Constance. He began development of the engine at NSU Motorenwerke AG, leading to the first running prototype on 1 February 1957.Unlike modern Wankel engines, this version had both the rotor and housing rotating. It developed 21 horsepower. His engine design was first licensed by Curtiss-Wright in New Jersey, United States. On 19 January 1960 the rotary engine was presented for the first time to specialists and the press in a meeting of the German Engineers' Union at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In the same year, with the KKM 250, the first practical rotary engine was presented in a converted NSU Prinz. At this time the "Wankel engine" became synonymous with the rotary engine, whereas previously it was called the "Motor nach System NSU/Wankel". At the 1963 IAA, the NSU company presented the NSU Wankel-Spider, the first consumer vehicle, which went into production in 1964. Great attention was received by the NSU in August 1967 for the very modern NSU Ro 80, which had a 115-horsepower engine with two rotors. It was the first German car selected as "Car of the Year" in 1968. In Japan, the manufacturer Mazda solved the engine's chatter marks problem. The engine has been successfully used by Mazda in several generations of their RX-series of coupés and sedans, including the Mazda Cosmo, R100, the RX-7 and more recently the RX-8. Mercedes-Benz completed it's C111 experimental model in 1969 with 3-rotor Wankel engine. In 1970 next model which had a 4-rotor Wankel engine could reach top speed 290 km/h but reached never serial production. Wankel became a success in business by securing license agreements around the world. By 1958 Wankel and partners had founded the "Wankel GmbH" company, providing Wankel with a share of the profits for marketing the engine. Among the licensees were Daimler-Benz since 1961, General Motors since 1970, Toyota since 1971. Royalties for the Wankel GmbH for licensure were 40%, later 36%. In 1971 Wankel sold his share of the license royalties for 50 million Deutschmarks to the English conglomerate Lonrho. The following year he got his Technical Development Center back from the Fraunhofer Society. From 1986 the Felix Wankel Institute cooperated with Daimler Benz AG. Daimler Benz provided the operating costs in return for the research rights. He sold the Institute to Daimler Benz for 100 million Marks.

Felix Wankel

Felix Wankel

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Sunday 4th October 1992

24 years ago

The 1967 World Drivers Champion, Denny Hulme (56) died at the Bathurst 1000, held at the famous Mount Panorama track in Australia. He was driving a semi-works supported BMW M3 for the Benson & Hedges Racing when after complaining over the car to pits radio of blurred vision (originally thought to be because of the heavy rain) Hulme suffered a massive heart attack at the wheel whilst driving along the high-speed Conrod Straight. After veering into the wall on the left side of the track at about 140 mph (230 km/h), he managed to bring the car to a relatively controlled stop sliding against the safety railing and concrete wall on the right side of the track. When marshals reached the scene they found Hulme still strapped in. He was taken from the car straight to Bathurst Hospital where he was officially pronounced dead.

Denny Hulme

Denny Hulme

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Monday 31st January 1994

23 years ago

News broke that British Aerospace was selling Rover to BMW for £800 million.

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Tuesday 1st February 1994

23 years ago

There were angry clashes in the House of Commons over the majority share (80%) sale of the last major British car manufacturer Rover to the German prestige car-maker BMW for £800 million. Labour leader John Smith criticised the deal for only satisfying BAe's "short-term need for cash". Politicians on both sides were concerned the plan would leave the UK as the only Group of Seven nation without control of a leading car manufacturer.

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Monday 21st February 1994

23 years ago

Honda sold its 20% stake of the Rover Group, allowing BMW to take full control. This marked the end of the 13-year venture between the two carmakers, although the Honda-based Rover 400 still went into production the following year, the seventh and final product of the venture.

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Wednesday 29th March 1995

22 years ago

The Rover 400 was officially launched, and was met with a sense of muted antipathy from the press. It was clear to even the most casual observer that this car was almost pure Honda in its design – in fact, to more seasoned observers, the changes that Rover had made were disappointing in their ineffectiveness. In a nutshell, the new mid-sized Rover appeared to be almost as much a Honda (as opposed to a British car) as the original joint-venture – the Triumph Acclaim – had been back in 1981. Many questions were soon asked of Rover: Why such a disappointing design? Had it not been for BMW, would this have been the shape of Rovers in the future? Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion.Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion. Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion. As it was, there was a lot to applaud the Rover 400 for, though: the car marked the first application for the new, enlarged version of the K-series engine – now cleverly expanded to 1589cc. Refinement and performance of this new version was certainly up to scratch, and like its smaller brother, it proved to be more than a match for its Honda counterpart. This change in engine policy meant that in terms of petrol powered units, the range was now powered entirely by British engines (1.6-litre automatic, aside), whilst the diesel versions were now L-series powered (as opposed to Peugeot XUD-powered). The 400 range offered a wide variety of power options – 1.4-litres through to the 2.0-litre T-series engine – and even though the entry-level model was somewhat smaller than its rivals, Rover countered the lack of cubic capacity with a high specific output. Although the 136bhp version of the T-series engine found a natural home in the Rover 400, it was the 2.0-litre version of the KV6 engine (codename Merlin) that really excited the company. Producing a healthy 150bhp, the KV6 was under development and running in Rover 400 “mules” even before the car was launched – but it would not be until the arrival of the facelifted Rover 45 model in 1999 that a V6-powered Rover midliner entered the sales catalogue. Be that as it may, the highlight of the K-series was somewhat overshadowed by the rest of the car. The people that mattered – the customers – found the Rover 400 somewhat disappointing and overpriced. If the premium pricing policy seemed like a winner with the classy and compact R8, its replacement certainly did not appear to have the looks to justify the continuation of this policy. Of course, Rover countered this allegation by telling everyone to wait for the saloon version, due in early 1996, but it did not ease the fact that the new 400 hatchback was not what the public wanted at the time, and was certainly not offered at a favourable price. Autocar magazine was reasonably pleased with the 416i and reported so in their road test. The verdict was lukewarm – and they gave the car qualified approval: “with looks that will be routinely mistaken for Honda’s new five-door Civic, this latest 400 needed to be convincingly different beneath the badge. This it achieves by a whisker. With that sweet spinning, characterful K-series engine and an outstanding urban ride quality, Rover has created a car that feels genuinely unique, not just a cynical badge engineered Honda. Sure, Peugeot’s 306 still has the dynamic measure of this car, but compared with the dull homogeneity of the competition from Ford and Vauxhall, the 416i offers up just enough “typically Rover” character, just enough specialness to raise it above the common horde. But only just.” At least Autocar were realistic in their choice of rivals for this car, plucking them from the small/medium arena. In Rover’s launch advertising for the 400, they pitched it against such luminaries as the Ford Mondeo, Renault Laguna and Citroën Xantia. Interestingly, it compared very well to all-comers in this class on the handpicked “ride quality” index figure. All but the Citroën, that is. Profile shot of the 400 saloon shows that classy-looking saloons can be sired from hatchbacks – maybe the public's perception of the Rover 400 range would be remarkably different had this version been launched first.Profile shot of the 400 saloon shows that classy-looking saloons can be sired from hatchbacks – maybe the public's perception of the Rover 400 range would be remarkably different had this version been launched first. Sales of the Rover 400 in the UK were buoyant, and in direct comparison with the combined sales of the outgoing R8 400 and Montego, they appeared to be quite good. But the comparison is certainly muddied by the fact that the 400 was designed to fight in the “D class” rather than the upper end of the “C class”, as marketeers liked to refer to the differing market sectors. So in the heart of the UK market, where Ford and Vauxhall continued to make hay, Rover continued to appear almost mortally weak. In the first full year of sales, the 400, including the stylish saloon version, grabbed 3.15 per cent of the market – and although Rover continued to make noises about not chasing volume sales, the cold hard facts were that after allowing for Honda’s royalty payments on each 400 sold, profit margins were not huge. Export sales continued to make reasonable headway, so even though sales in the home market were suffering, Rover’s production volumes remained at a reasonable level – no doubt helped by the BMW connection. However, exports are affected by the fluctuations of the currency markets, and as we shall see, Rover and BMW would suffer terribly from these in later years. In 1997 and 1998, the Rover 400 captured 2.85 and 2.55 per cent of the UK market respectively, maintaining a regular top ten presence. By the following year, however, this had collapsed disastrously to 1.51 per cent. What had caused this collapse? Well, the product had never captured the public’s imagination in the way that the R8 had, but also, following the change in government (May 1997) and the strengthening of sterling against European currencies, the price of imported cars had become so much cheaper in relation to that of the domestically produced Rover. This allowed companies such as Renault (with the Megane) and Volkswagen (with the Golf) to make serious inroads into the Rover’s market. What made the situation even worse for Rover was the flipside: the price of UK cars became more expensive in export markets, so in order to remain price competitive, Rover needed to drop their prices to such an extent that they began to make serious losses. By 1999, BMW had begun to take emergency measures for Rover – and the first of those, was the replacement of the 400 by the 45 in December 1999.

Rover 400

Rover 400

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Wednesday 29th November 1995

21 years ago

The third generation Rover 200 (R3) was launched. It was initially popular, being Britain's seventh-best-selling new car in 1996 through to 1998. The Rover 200, codenamed R3, was smaller than the Honda-based R8 cars. This was due to Rover's need to replace the ageing Metro, which by now was 15 years old. Although some elements of the previous 200 / 400 were carried over (most notably the front structure, heater, steering and front suspension), it was by-and-large an all-new car that had been developed by Rover. Honda did provide early body design support as a result of moving production of the Honda Concerto from Longbridge to Swindon, freeing up capacity for 60,000 units at Rover. At this point, the car had a cut-down version of the previous car's rear floor and suspension and was codenamed SK3. Lack of boot space and other factors led to Rover re-engineering the rear end to take a modified form of the Maestro rear suspension and the product was renamed R3. By the time the car was launched, Honda and Rover had already been "divorced" after the BMW takeover the previous year. The new 200 used K-Series petrol engines, most notably the 1.8 L VVC version from the MGF, and L-series diesel engine. During the mid 1990s the L-Series was a very competitive engine, regarded as second only to the VW TDI in overall performance, and an improvement over the R8s XUD, particularly in fuel economy while almost matching it for refinement. Launched with 1.4i 16v (105 PS (77 kW; 104 bhp)) and 1.6i 16v (111 PS (82 kW; 109 bhp)) petrol engines and 2.0 turbodiesel (86 PS (63 kW; 85 bhp) and intercooled 105 PS (77 kW; 104 bhp) versions) engines, the range grew later to include a 1.1i (60 PS (44 kW; 59 bhp)) and 1.4i 8v (75 PS (55 kW; 74 bhp)) engines and also 1.8 16v units in standard (120 PS (88 kW; 118 bhp)) and variable valve formats (145 PS (107 kW; 143 bhp)). R65 Peugeot/Rover Manual gearboxes carried over from the R8 Rover 200 were available across the range and a CVT option was available on the 1.6i 16v unit. The R3 featured a completely re-designed interior and dashboard to accommodate the fitment of a passenger airbag in line with new safety standards. The 1.8-litre models earned a certain amount of praise for their performance, whilst the intercooled turbo diesel was claimed as one of the fastest-accelerating diesel hatchbacks on the market in the late 1990s. Unlike its predecessor, the R3 was not available in Coupe, Cabriolet or Tourer bodystyles, although Rover updated these versions of the older model with mild styling revisions and the fitting of the new dashboard from the R3, which was possible due to the shared front bulkhead. In the UK, these models were no longer branded as 200/400 models, simply being referred to as the Rover Coupe, Cabriolet and Tourer. The Rover 200 might have been marketed as a supermini, it compares closely in size and engine range with contemporary models such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. Instead Rover priced the car to compete with vehicles like the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Astra. Rover's only offering in the supermini segment at the time was the ageing Metro and this gap in the company's line-up needed to be filled. The third generation 200 was initially popular, being Britain's seventh-best-selling new car in 1996 through to 1998. Within three years it had fallen out of the top 10 completely and was being outsold by traditionally poorer selling cars like the Volkswagen Polo Mk3 and the Peugeot 206.

Rover 200 (R3)

Rover 200 (R3)

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Wednesday 20th March 1996

21 years ago

The Ford Scorpio (Granada in Germany) was launched in Europe; it replaced the Consul and previous Granada. Codenamed DE-1 during its development (since it was intended to straddle the European D and E segments), the Scorpio was heavily based on the Sierra, sitting on a stretched version of its floorpan, and using a similar styling philosophy set by both the Sierra and the third generation Escort. Under the bonnet were well-proven engines, starting with the venerable Pinto engine unit in 1.8 L and 2.0 L capacities, as well as the V6 Cologne engine in 2.4 L, 2.8 L, and later 2.9 L displacements. By the summer of 1989 the Pinto engines had begun to be gradually replaced, with an 8-valve DOHC engine replacing the 2.0 L model. The Scorpio was intended to maintain Ford's position in Europe as the principal alternative to a Mercedes or BMW for those looking to own an executive car. It was also launched more than a year ahead of new competitors from Rover and Vauxhall. To this end Ford built on the already extensive specification available on the outgoing MkII Granada (which for the period, was very well equipped, with features such as leather heated electrically adjustable seats, air conditioning, electric sunroof and trip computer either standard or available as options) by adding some additional features unusual on a mass-market car. Improvements available included: heated windscreen, cruise control and, later all-wheel drive. The most notable advance was the fitment of anti-lock braking system, the first time this feature had been made standard across the whole range on a mass-produced car. The car was widely praised as being very comfortable and spacious, particularly in respect of its rear legroom. Unlike the Granada, it was initially only available as a hatchback, and not as a saloon or estate. This proved to be a mistake for Ford, which later introduced a saloon version early in 1990. An estate version finally appeared in early 1992, when the whole range underwent a facelift, with new styling which hinted at the new Mondeo, which would replace the Sierra a year later. There were few engineering changes over the years, notably the introduction of the DOHC engines in 1989, and the Scorpio Cosworth with a 2.9 L 24-valve Cosworth V6 in December 1990. The Cosworth was both large and fast, which consequently gave it poor fuel consumption. Many owners often commented at the fact that 25 miles per gallon was about as much as you could get out of a car with this engine.[citation needed] Prop-shaft deterioration over time was also considered to be a problem on early Mark I and II Cosworths. In the UK and Ireland, following the initial market resistance towards the Sierra - something which had been attributed to its radical styling - Ford elected to keep the Granada name in those markets, making the Scorpio effectively a Mk III Granada. The "Scorpio" name was instead used as a trim designation rather than the model name, being positioned higher than Ford's traditional Ghia top of the range model. These models were marketed as "Granada Scorpio", but were badged simply as "Scorpio", with an elongated "Granada" underneath.

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Monday 30th March 1998

19 years ago

German automaker BMW bought Rolls-Royce for $570 million. But the deal was not smooth and has a very interesting story behind it. In 1998, owners Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The most likely buyer was BMW, who already supplied engines and other components for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, but BMW's final offer of £340m was beaten by Volkswagen's £430m. A stipulation in the ownership documents of Rolls-Royce dictated that Rolls-Royce plc, the aero-engine maker would retain certain essential trademarks (the Rolls-Royce name and logo) if the automotive division was sold. Rolls-Royce plc chose to license not to VW but to BMW, with whom it had recently had joint business ventures. VW had bought rights to the "Spirit of Ecstasy" bonnet (hood) ornament and the shape of the radiator grille, but it lacked rights to the Rolls-Royce name necessary to build the cars. Likewise, BMW lacked rights to the grille and mascot. BMW bought an option on the trademarks, licensing the name and "RR" logo for £40 million, a deal that many commentators thought was a bargain for possibly the most valuable property in the deal. VW claimed that it had only really wanted Bentley anyway. BMW and VW arrived at a solution. From 1998 to 2002 BMW would continue to supply engines for the cars and would allow use of the names, but this would cease on 1 January 2003. From that date, only BMW would be able to name cars "Rolls-Royce", and VW's former Rolls-Royce/Bentley division would build only cars called "Bentley". The Rolls-Royce's Corniche ceased production in 2002.

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Sunday 26th April 1998

18 years ago

The 2.5 tonne, 5.4 metre long Bentley Arnage was unveiled to the public at the Sarthe Circuit in France. Powered by a BMW V8 engine, with Cosworth-engineered twin-turbo installation, for a brief period it was the most powerful and fastest four-door saloon (top speed 180 mph) on the market.

Bentley Arnage

Bentley Arnage

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Friday 5th June 1998

18 years ago

Volkswagen AG announced it had won the takeover battle for the ownership of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd, beating off competition from BMW AG.

Rolls Royce log

Rolls Royce log

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Thursday 22nd October 1998

18 years ago

The opening of the British Motor Show at the NEC, Birmingham saw the launch of two critical saloons from British car manufacturers – Rover 75 and Jaguar S-Type.The then BMW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder made an impromptu speech about the future of the Rover Longbridge plant which would then lead to the sell of the brand in 2000 and its collapse in 2005. A dozen or new models from AC, Caterham, Jensen, Lea Francis, Lotus, Marcos and Westfield make their world debut at the show, whilst the Ford Focus made its UK debut.

Chinese Rover 75 advert

Chinese Rover 75 advert

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Friday 19th February 1999

18 years ago

Georg "Schorsch" Meier, German motorcycle racer died aged 88. Famous for being the first foreign winner of the prestigious Senior TT the Blue Riband race of the Isle of Man TT Races in 1939 riding for the factory BMW team, he was also the first motor-cycle racer to lap a Grand Prix course at over 100 mph.

Georg

Georg "Schorsch" Meier

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Friday 9th April 1999

17 years ago

It was announced that the film world’s most successful secret agent, Bond, James Bond, would be driving the stunning new BMW Z8 in "The World is Not Enough", the 19th in the series of Bond films.

James Bond's BMW Z8

James Bond's BMW Z8

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Wednesday 12th May 1999

17 years ago

Production of the BMW 8 Series (chassis code BMW E31), available as a V8 or V12-engined 2-door 2+2 coupe, ceased. Total built: 30,621

BMW 850

BMW 850

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Wednesday 23rd June 1999

17 years ago

Fears about the future of the Rover Group's Longbridge plant in Birmingham were calmed by the news that owner BMW would invest £2.5 billion in the plant.

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Saturday 18th December 1999

17 years ago

The Ford Motor Company was awarded Car of the Century (COTC) for its Ford Motor Company and creator of the Model T, was named Automotive Entrepreneur of the Century. The Car Designer of the Century award was given to Italian Giorgetto Giugiaro (Maserati Bora, BMW Z1, Ferrai GG50), whilst Austrian Ferdinand Piëch (Chairman of VW who influenced the development of numerous significant cars including the Audi Quattro, Volkswagen New Beetle, Audi R8, Lamborghini Gallardo, Volkswagen Phaeton, and notably, the Bugatti Veyron) won the Car Executive of the Century award. The election process was overseen by the Global Automotive Elections Foundation.

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Friday 17th March 2000

17 years ago

Ford Motor Company announced that it has reached a memorandum of understanding to buy Land Rover from the BMW Group.

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Tuesday 21st March 2000

17 years ago

Alchemy Partners announced the impending launch of the MG Car Company following an outline agreement with BMW to acquire the Rover Group. The new company would continue with Rover's current model range of the 25, 45, 75 and "Old Mini" and would provide an ongoing service to Rover's customers.

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Friday 30th June 2000

16 years ago

Ford officially took ownership of Land Rover from the BMW Group.

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Sunday 24th December 2000

16 years ago

John Cooper, the driving force behind the Cooper Car Company died aged 77. With his father, Charles, he started building racing cars after the Second World War; and it was Stirling Moss who gave the company its first GP victory in the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix. This was the first rear engine car to win a grand prix and started a revolution - within two years all the cars on the grid were rear engined. "He made a great contribution to the sport of motor racing - he put England back on top," Stirling Moss said. "It's thanks to John Cooper that I was able to get into the sport as his racing cars were relatively cheap." Cooper's development of the British Motor Corporation Mini — the Mini Cooper — was adored by both rally racers and ordinary road drivers. Before John Cooper's death, the Cooper name was licensed to BMW for the higher-performance versions of the cars, inspired by the original Mini, sold as the MINI. John, along with his son Mike Cooper, served in an advisory role to BMW and Rover's New MINI design team. Cooper was the last surviving Formula One team principal from the formative years of the sport, and he often lamented later in life that the fun had long since gone out of racing. He helped establish Britain's domination of motorsport technology, which continues today, and he received the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to British motorsport. He remained head of the West Sussex family garage business (which had outlets for Mini Cooper at East Preston and Honda at Ferring) until his death.

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Tuesday 9th January 2001

16 years ago

It was reported that the influential environmental scientist Amory Lovins (53) of Colorado was attempting to build a super-efficient sport-utility vehicle called the Hypercar . The "Hypercar" would be a "hybrid electric/hydrogen-fuelled family vehicle that had only a few parts, was made of lightweight carbon but was stronger than steel, used existing technologies, weighed half a normal car of its size, and could travel the equivalent of 300 miles to the gallon. It was designed to have next to no emissions and, using its batteries, could become a power plant on wheels when parked, eliminating the need for nuclear or coal-power stations". Commercialisation of the Hypercar began in 2014, with the production of the all-carbon electric BMW i3 family and the 313 miles per gallon Volkswagen XL1.

2015 Volkswagen XL1

2015 Volkswagen XL1

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Friday 16th February 2001

16 years ago

Delphi Automotives and the BMW Group presented the first prototype automobile with a gasoline fuel cell for on board electrical supply.

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Sunday 8th July 2001

15 years ago

The BMW Mini went on sale in the UK. By 10:00 am the 148 dealerships had taken more than 3,000 orders. The hatchback/hardtop Mini was the first model of the new generation Mini, and was back then known as simply Mini. It was available in Cooper, Cooper S and One variations at launch. In many European markets, the Mini One was powered by a 1.4 litre I4[34] version of the Tritec engine but all other petrol powered Minis used the 1.6 litre I4 version. The names Cooper and Cooper S followed the names used for the sportier version of the classic Mini, which in turn come from the involvement of John Cooper and the Cooper Car Company. The Cooper heritage was further emphasised with the John Cooper Works (JCW) range of tuning options that are available with the Mini. John Cooper also created a one-off racing model of the Mini Cooper S named the Mini Cooper S Works. This car featured many extras which help to improve performance, such as a racing exhaust and air filter as well as uprated suspension. The car also had one-of-a-kind 17-inch (430 mm) racing wheels. The Mk I Mini One, Cooper and Cooper S used some version of the reliable, Brazilian-built Tritec engine, co-developed by Chrysler & BMW; the Mini One D used a Toyota-built 1ND-TV diesel engine. In August 2006, BMW announced that future engines would be built in the UK, making the car essentially British-built again; final assembly took place at Oxford, and the body pressings were made in nearby Swindon at BMW's Swindon Pressings Ltd subsidiary. The last Mk I variant was the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit: a light-weight, quasi-race-prepped John Cooper Works model. Hand-finished by Bertone in Italy, it was offered as a limited-production run of 2,000 cars during the 2006 model year, with 444 of those originally intended for the UK market (although ultimately, 459 were sold).

BMW MIni (2002)

BMW MIni (2002)

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Tuesday 11th September 2001

15 years ago

The Frankfurt Motor Show opened to international media, with a series of concept and production vehicle debuts kicking off in the early morning. First news of terrorist attacks in the US came in the early afternoon. Large display screens were switched over to news coverage, opening celebrations were cancelled, and the usual upbeat presentations were absent for the rest of the show. MG Rover Group unveiled its stunning new luxury high performance sports coupe - the MG X80. Styled by MG Rover's world renowned design director Peter Stevens, the £55,000 MG X80 had a high-technology super-formed aluminum body, mounted to a steel box section chassis. Skoda revealed its new model, the Superb. There was a large number of concept vehicles, including the Citroën C-Crosser, SEAT Tango, Renault Talisman, Jaguar R Coupe, Ford Fusion and Audi Avantissimo. Top production car debuts included the BMW 7 Series, Ford Fiesta, Citroën C3, Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo and Lamborghini Murcielago.

MG X80

MG X80

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Saturday 15th September 2001

15 years ago

Italian racing driver Alex Zanardi suffered a huge crash while racing in the Cart series in Germany on this day in 2001. Lucky to survive the crash, Zanardi had to have both his legs amputated. Astonishingly, he was back racing again within two years. Zanardi drove in Formula One for Jordan, Lotus and Williams, but the highest Formula One race finish was only sixth at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1993. In 2006 he returned to the cockpit of a BMW Sauber F1 car at Valencia and completed several laps with a hand-operated throttle and brake on the steering wheel. Afterwards he said: "Of course, I know that I won't get a contract with the Formula One team, however having the chance to drive an F1 racer again is just incredible."

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Wednesday 14th November 2001

15 years ago

The BMW Williams team announced that Nico Rosberg and Nelson Piquet Jr would test for the team at Jerez de Frontera in the first week of December to evaluate whether either had the potential to be test drivers in 2004. Jaguar Racing also announced that it would test Red Bull backed Christian Klien and Townsend Bell at Valencia at the end of the month. Both Rosberg and Klien went on to race for Williams and Jaguar Racing while Piquet Jr secured a Renault drive in 2008.

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Wednesday 3rd July 2002

14 years ago

BMW revealed the first official pictures of the new BMW Z4 roadster. The new car was shown for the first time at the Paris motor show in September. The Z4 went on sale in the UK in the summer of 2003.

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Saturday 28th September 2002

14 years ago

The new BMW Z4, Volvo S60R and V70R made their world debut at the Paris Motor Show.

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Monday 16th December 2002

14 years ago

Karsten Engel, Head of the BMW Group's Munich branch, handed over the millionth car sold in 2002, a BMW 730d Individual in carbon black-metallic. Altogether, the company sold more than 976,000 vehicles up to the end of November, of which 842,000 were BMW cars and 134,000 were Mini’s.

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Tuesday 31st December 2002

14 years ago

After 71 years together the world’s most famous car marques – Bentley and Rolls-Royce – separated. Rolls-Royce left Crewe and became part of BMW AG, while Bentley, still owned by Volkswagen AG, remained at the historic Cheshire site.

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Sunday 5th January 2003

14 years ago

Green Day's lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was arrested on suspicion of drink driving after being stopped in California speeding in a black BMW convertible. He failed a breath test and was taken to Berkeley county jail and later released on $1,053 (£657) bail.

Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe Armstrong

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Sunday 5th January 2003

14 years ago

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited revealed the all-new, 6.8-litre, V12 Rolls-Royce Phantom at the company’s new manufacturing plant and head office at Goodwood in West Sussex. This was the first Rolls Royce model made under the BMW ownership. The Phantom shares about only 15% of its parts with other BMW models and is sold separately from the BMW range. The vehicle's unique instrument panel has no tachometer. Instead it has a power reserve dial that indicates how much of the engine's power is not being used and available to the driver. Rear doors are rear-hinged, a style commonly referred to as suicide doors, but called 'coach doors' by Rolls-Royce. Because of the rear-seating position in relation to the rear inner-door handles, buttons are mounted on both C-pillars which operate hydraulic motors in order to close the rear doors. An electronic lock prevents the doors from being accidentally opened when moving. The car automatically brakes to a walking speed if a coach door remains open when driving off. When front or rear doors are opened, umbrella compartments built into the rear doors are accessible. The factory supplied umbrellas are Teflon coated so they, and the compartment in which they are stored, dry out faster. The traditional Spirit of Ecstasy ornament has an automatic electronic retraction mechanism to prevent theft and protect pedestrians in the event of an accident. It may also be retracted by the driver at the touch of a button, or when the alarm is armed. The ornament base contains a sensor that detects movement, and will retract it if someone tampers with it. The "RR" logos on each of the wheel hubs are independent bezels in order to always remain upright while the wheel is rotating. Final assembly, including all body-, paint-, wood- and leatherwork, was completed to each customer’s individual specification. The introductory base price was £250,000 in Britain and $300,000 in the United States.

Rolls Royce Phantom (2003- )

Rolls Royce Phantom (2003- )

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Tuesday 18th March 2003

14 years ago

BMW Great Britain announced final pricing, specifications and options for the forthcoming BMW Z4 roadster. Available with 2.5i and 3.0i-litre six cylinder engines, the new car launched in June, was priced at £26,650 and £30,850 respectively.

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Tuesday 18th March 2003

14 years ago

Karl Kling, German F1 driver died in Gaienhofen on Lake Constance, Germany due to natural causes. He was 92. It has been stated that Kling was born too late and too early. Too late to be in the successful Mercedes team of the '30s and too early to have a real chance in 1954 and 1955. Unusually, Kling found his way into motorsport via his first job as a reception clerk at Daimler-Benz in the mid-1930s, competing in hillclimb and trials events in production machinery in his spare time. During the Second World War he gained mechanical experience servicing Luftwaffe aircraft, and after the cessation of hostilities he resumed his motorsport involvement in a BMW 328. Kling was instrumental in developing Mercedes' return to international competition in the early 1950s, and his win in the 1952 Carrera Panamericana road race, driving the then-experimental Mercedes-Benz 300SL was a defining point in assuring the Daimler-Benz management that motorsport had a place in Mercedes' future. Called up to the revived Mercedes Grand Prix squad in 1954 he finished less than one second behind the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio on his Formula One debut, taking second place in the 1954 French Grand Prix at the fast Reims-Gueux circuit. This promising start was not to last, and with the arrival of Stirling Moss at Mercedes in 1955 Kling was effectively demoted to third driver. However, away from the World Championship, Kling took impressive victories in both the Berlin Grand Prix (at AVUS, another high-speed circuit) and the Swedish Grand Prix. He left the Formula One team at the end of the season, to succeed Alfred Neubauer as head of Mercedes motorsport. He was in this post during their successful rallying campaigns of the 1960s, occasionally taking the wheel himself. On one such occasion he drove a Mercedes-Benz 220SE to victory in the mighty 1961 Algiers-Cape Town trans-African rally.

Karl Kling

Karl Kling

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Thursday 10th July 2003

13 years ago

Details of BMW’s new 6 Series were announced. This was the first BMW Coupé to wear the legendary 6 Series badge since 1989.

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Friday 14th November 2003

13 years ago

The BMW Williams team announced that Nico Rosberg and Nelson Piquet Jr would test for the team at Jerez de Frontera in the first week of December to evaluate whether either had the potential to be test drivers in 2004. Jaguar Racing also announced that it would test Red Bull backed Christian Klien and Townsend Bell at Valencia at the end of the month. Both Rosberg and Klien went on to race for Williams and Jaguar Racing while Piquet Jr secured a Renault drive in 2008.

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Tuesday 25th November 2003

13 years ago

Country singer Glen Campbell was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona with a blood-alcohol percentage level of 0.20 after his BMW struck a Toyota Camry. He was charged with ‘extreme’ drink-driving, hit and run, and assaulting a police officer. According to a police officer, Campbell hummed his hit ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ repeatedly whilst in custody.

Glen Campbell - 2003

Glen Campbell - 2003

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Thursday 11th December 2003

13 years ago

Ho-Pin Tung made history as the first Chinese racer to drive a F1 car. He got his chance to test the Williams FW24 in Spain after dominating the Formula BMW Asia series. He described the experience as "terrifying".

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Monday 5th January 2004

13 years ago

The first ever BMW 6 Series Convertible made its world debut at the NAIAS in Detroit, Michigan. The Convertible joined the 6 Series Coupe, which made its much-anticipated return after a 15-year absence.

BMW 6 Series 645i Convertible

BMW 6 Series 645i Convertible

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Sunday 21st March 2004

13 years ago

The Malaysian Grand Prix took place at the Sepang circuit; Michael Schumacher took pole position and went onto win the race. The event also saw Britain's Jenson Button stand on the podium for the first time, finishing in third position. With all drivers starting on dry tyres, the action started sooner than expected as on the parade lap Kimi Räikkönen spun but was able to retake his grid position. Mark Webber, starting from P2, made a woeful start and slid down the field to be 9th by the 1st lap. Fernando Alonso on the other hand, made a brilliant start from 19th (2nd last) and was up behind Webber in 10th after lap 1. Michael Schumacher led from the start while drivers behind jostled for position. By the second lap, rain started to fall and cars were starting to lose traction on the dry tyres. Trulli overtook Button but the Brit promptly took the place back again. Alonso barreled past Webber for eighth and closed in on the McLaren of David Coulthard. From the back to a points position within four laps was an outstanding performance from Alonso but it was the best he got all race. By this time Michael Schumacher had already built up quite an advantage, but this was quickly eroded by the hard-charging Juan Pablo Montoya. It was to prove to be just a brief shower as soon the precipitation passed and Schumacher was back on his way. Webber managed to get past Ralf but the Williams retaliated and got ahead again, puncturing the Jaguar's rear right tyre on his way. Takuma Sato spun into the gravel but recovered the BAR smartly and Webber had to pit for a tyre change. To add insult to injury he got a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane and finally compounded his misery by spinning out of the race a few laps later. A string of cars in the midfield were jostling for position, starting with Nick Heidfeld's Jordan in 11th, then Cristiano da Matta's Toyota, the second Jaguar of Christian Klien, Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella and da Matta's teammate Panis. In the first round of pit stops Heidfeld's fuel rig failed and he had to go out and back in again. He eventually pulled into the pits to retire with a gearbox problem. Trulli got ahead of Coulthard in the first stops and running order at the front, where not much was happening, was Michael, Montoya, Raikkonen. Montoya was falling away from the Ferrari in the second stint of the race but not letting him get too far ahead. Alonso took Coulthard for sixth but then the pair pitted for the second time and the McLaren got out ahead. Alonso swapped to a two-stop strategy but it gave him no advantage and he seemed resigned to staying behind Coulthard, while Trulli, who had been on quite an early charge, also seemed to lose momentum. Ralf's engine unexpectedly gave up midway through the race, the first failure for BMW for 17 races. Felipe Massa, who was having a pretty good race, got held up by a Minardi and did a bit of agitated hand waving as he went by. The gap between Michael and Montoya was holding at around four seconds and Button moved up to third, jumping Raikkonen in the second pit stops. Both of the Finn's stops seemed quite long and eventually he pulled off to the side of the track with a transmission failure. Disappointing for Raikkonen and McLaren as Kimi was showing good pace until then. Panis ducked into the pits only to find no crew ready for him and had to go straight back out. Then next lap he was back in again to serve a drive-through for speeding on his previous effort. Not a good day for Panis, or Toyota in general. Da Matta finished ninth after a fairly anonymous race. In the final laps the BAR crew froze as one of the cars pulled off with an engine failure but it was Sato rather than third placed Button. Bad luck for Sato but the relief that it wasn't his teammate was palpable. Barrichello was gaining ground on Button but with only a few laps to go, he was not in a position to challenge. Michael took the win with Montoya five seconds behind. BAR and Button were by far the happiest of the lot and the Englishman got the biggest cheer from the crowd as he lifted his first trophy on the third step of the podium.

Start of 2004 Malaysian Grand Prix

Start of 2004 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Sunday 25th April 2004

12 years ago

A total of 107 BMW coupé cars took part in a parade organised by the BMW Coupé Club Nederland (BCCN) at The Hague, Netherlands.

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Saturday 3rd July 2004

12 years ago

BMW Great Britain announced first details of the forthcoming BMW M5.

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Saturday 18th September 2004

12 years ago

The BMW 1 Series was launched with five doors, four engine sizes and three trim levels, but just one aim – ‘to set a new standard for compact hatchbacks through unique BMW design and engineering solutions’.

BMW 1 Series

BMW 1 Series

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Friday 24th September 2004

12 years ago

The Paris Mondial de l’Automobile (Paris Motor Show) opened its doors to the press and featured a wealth of new concept and production cars. There were a number of major releases from Ford, BMW and Mercedes and, naturally, the French makers Peugeot, Citroën and Renault featured strongly as well. World debuts included the Alfa 147, Aston Martin DBR9, Audi A4, BMW 1 Series, BMW M5, Citroën C4, Ferrari F430, Ford Focus, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Sportage, Mazda 5, Mercedes A-Class, Mitsubishi Colt CZ3, Opel Astra GTC, Peugeot 1007, Porsche Boxster, Renault Mégane Trophy, Škoda Octavia Estate, Suzuki Swift and Toyota Prius GT.

BMW 1-Series

BMW 1-Series

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Saturday 5th February 2005

12 years ago

The KZ1R, Ascari’s new thoroughbred for the racetrack, made its first appearance in Holland at Auto Rai. Powered by a 5.0 litre BMW based V8 engine delivering 520 bhp, the KZ1R could reach a top speed of 200 mph and accelerate from 0-60mph in an adrenalin pumping 3.4 seconds. Hand-built to order at the state-of-the-art Ascari design and production facility in Banbury, Oxfordshire, the KZ1R cost around £225,000 depending on exact customer specification.

Ascari KZ1R

Ascari KZ1R

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Wednesday 16th March 2005

12 years ago

The current-generation MINI, built at the BMW Group Plant in Oxford, claimed the Used Car Of The Year award, the ultimate accolade in the Auto Express Glass's Guide Used Car Honours 2005.

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Thursday 17th March 2005

12 years ago

The BMW plant in Regensburg celebrated a special milestone: exactly 18 years and four months after it went on stream, the 3 millionth vehicle, a BMW 120i, came off the assembly line.

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Saturday 14th May 2005

11 years ago

The seventh Gumball 3000 rally began at Trafalgar Square and progressed 3000 miles from London to Brussels, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and onto to Dubrovnik in Croatia. The cars then were transported by ferry to Bari, Italy, followed by a transit to the Targa Florio circuit in Sicily, before heading north to Rome and Florence. The finish line was in Monaco's Casino Square prior to the Formula One Grand Prix. Participants included Daryl Hannah, rock stars and supermodels driving vehicles ranging from the Dukes of Hazzard General Lee to Ferrari Enzos and Mercedes SLRs. Known to be heading towards London, five drivers were arrested on May 9, 2005 by the Catalonian traffic police when caught speeding between Sagunto and Tarragona. The Spirit Trophy was awarded to Sue Bellarby and Kathy Huddart, whose Caterham 7 broke down just shy of the finish line. The two were transported to the finish line by Gumball legend Alex Roy in his "Guardia Civil" Team Polizei BMW M5 who finished 2nd dressed as a Spanish cop. The year's unofficial winners were Greg and "Kalbas" in a Mercedes 2004 CLK-DTM, who edged out a week-old Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren because a tyre was destroyed just short of the finish line.

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Thursday 19th May 2005

11 years ago

After nearly three years of waiting since the previous M5 ceased production, the all new £61,760 BMW M5 was delivered to UK dealers. The first two year’s production had been either are sold or spoken for.

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Wednesday 28th September 2005

11 years ago

An 11-year-old boy discovered by police driving a BMW and barely able to see over the steering wheel was banned from driving, despite not qualifying for a licence for another six years. The 12-month ban after admitting driving without due care and attention, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and driving without insurance. He was also given a four-month supervision order and told that nine penalty points would be applied to his licence - as soon as he is old enough to obtain one. Magistrates heard that the boy had swapped a mini motorbike for the BMW and was found driving at night without lights near his home in Andover, Hants. As police followed, he lost control of the car and mounted a pavement.The boy, who is said to have attention deficit disorder, said that he did not realise he required a licence.

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Tuesday 25th October 2005

11 years ago

BMW UK announced details of the latest M car - the new BMW Z4 M Roadster. Three-years after the Z4’s launch as the most performance-focused roadster on the market, BMW M turned their attentions to the Z4, creating BMW’s fastest accelerating open-top. With 343 hp equating to 106 hp per litre. Capable of accelerating from zero to 62mph in just 5.0 seconds, it had an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

BMW Z4 M Roadster Interior

BMW Z4 M Roadster Interior

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Thursday 17th November 2005

11 years ago

Citroen’s elegant and sophisticated C6 made its very first public appearance in the UK at the MPH ’05 show, at London’s Earls Court. The C6 was aimed as a stylish alternative to executive cars, like the BMW 5 Series and the Audi A6, and it has been described as "spaceship that rides on air", "charmingly idiosyncratic" and "refreshingly different".Innovative technology incorporated into the C6 included a head-up display, a lane departure warning system, xenon directional headlamps, Hydractive 3+ suspension with electronically controlled springing and damping, and a rear spoiler which automatically adjusts to speed and braking. The C6 was the first car to obtain four stars in the pedestrian test rating of EuroNCAP, due to the inventive design, where the bonnet pops up a little if a person/animal is hit, thus increasing the gap between the deformable bonnet and the non-deformable engine components below.

Citroen C6 (2005-2012)

Citroen C6 (2005-2012)

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Wednesday 14th December 2005

11 years ago

The first MINI LOUNGE opened in Madrid, Spain. The bar, restaurant, and nightclub was located at Paseo de la Castellana, 123, Madrid. The opening of the MINI LOUNGE in Madrid was yet another innovative MINI marketing mile stone. A Spanish MINI dealer was ready to convert this idea into the very first lounge in Madrid. Based on his business plan, BMW AG/MINI Brand Management Munich offered him a license agreement. The MINI communicators are thus once again walking unconventional ways of approaching target groups, and they appear where an encounter with the brand is least expected. It is part of the MINI LOUNGE strategy to showcase neither MINI cars nor any of its accessories. Solely the lounge's chic and cosmopolitan atmosphere conveys the brand's image. The architecture throughout the lounge also reflected the special touch of MINI using the recognizable MINI design, as well as the typical MINI color black as sources of inspiration. The Italian cooperation partner Bisazza added further visual stimuli through the use of spectacular mosaics.

Mini Lounge, Madrid, Spain

Mini Lounge, Madrid, Spain

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Wednesday 14th December 2005

11 years ago

BMW UK Ltd extended its commitment to Formula BMW with the announcement of an exclusive partnership with Formula One legend Nigel Mansell, who joined the Formula BMW UK Championship to help groom future F1 stars, including his two sons Greg (17) and Leo (21).

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Wednesday 11th January 2006

11 years ago

British Police secured the conviction of a millionaire businessman who drove at 156 mph with a mobile phone at his ear. Ronald Klos was banned for a year and fined £3,000 for driving at that speed in his high-performance BMW on the A92 near Kirkcaldy, Fife in May 2004.

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Friday 20th January 2006

11 years ago

The new BMW 320d ES saloon was named ‘Car of the Year 2006’ at the prestigious What Car? Car of the Year 2006 awards ceremony in London.

BMW 320d ES Saloon

BMW 320d ES Saloon

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Monday 24th April 2006

10 years ago

A tiny ecological car was launched in Britain after three years of research financed by the EU. The three-wheeled vehicle ran on natural gas and consumed 2.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (94 miles per gallon). Known as the CLEVER (Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport), the car was easy to park and could transport a driver and one passenger, seated in the back. Whilst the Clever vehicle was intended to use a low emission engine burning compresses natural gas, the research prototype at the University of Bath uses a 13 kW 176cc single cylinder engine taken from BMW C1 scooter. Belt drives were used to transmit power to the two rear wheels. Rear suspension was by way of independent trailing arms, adjustable Öhlins spring/damper units and an anti-roll bar. The front wheel was suspended by a leading four bar linkage with a single Öhlins spring/damper unit and used a hub-centric steering system. A single track-rod transmitted steering inputs to the front wheel from the output arm of a worm-gear steering box, the driver’s steer inputs were transmitted to the steering box via a modified wheel and column sourced from a BMW car.

CLEVER car

CLEVER car

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Wednesday 28th June 2006

10 years ago

BMW announced the launch of a revised X3, featuring the most powerful diesel engine ever to power a production BMW in the UK. The headline-grabbing powerplant was a twin-turbo 3.0-litre diesel with an output of 286hp and 580Nm of torque that had been developed from the engine used by the BMW 535d. Such power places the X3 3.0sd into the realm of sports car acceleration courtesy of a zero to 62mph time of 6.6 seconds and a 149mph top speed.

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Sunday 6th August 2006

10 years ago

Jenson Button won the Hungarian Grand Prix, the first victory of his career and the first race win for a British driver since David Coulthard won the Australian Grand Prix three years previously, and the first by an Englishman since Johnny Herbert won the 1999 European Grand Prix nearly seven years previously, in similarly changeable weather circumstances. Pedro de la Rosa finished second for McLaren, the first podium finish of his career, and Nick Heidfeld finished third, giving BMW Sauber their first ever podium. It was the first win for a Honda chassis since John Surtees' victory in the 1967 Italian Grand Prix and the first win for a Honda engine since Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Mugen-Honda-powered Jordan triumphed in the 1999 Italian Grand Prix, 119 races earlier.

Jenson Button at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix

Jenson Button at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Friday 25th August 2006

10 years ago

Sebastian Vettel became the youngest ever F1 driver as he made his debut for BMW Sauber during Friday practice for the Turkish Grand Prix. He immediately made an impact on the sport, setting the fastest time of the day with a 1:28.091 at just 19 years and 53 days old. However, he was also fined for exceeding the pit lane speed limit by 4.3km/h. He had to wait until 2007 to get his race debut with Toro Rosso and then won his first grand prix the next year for the same team.

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Sunday 27th August 2006

10 years ago

The Turkish Grand Prix marked the first race victory, and also the first pole position, for Felipe Massa, who drove for the Ferrari team. Fernando Alonso finished the race in second position and Massa's teammate Michael Schumacher occupied the final position on the podium. The race was also the first Grand Prix for future quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was assigned a Friday test driver role for the BMW Sauber team.

Felipe Massa,

Felipe Massa,

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Monday 18th September 2006

10 years ago

Ford bought rights to the Rover name from BMW for approximately £6 million. Ironically no Rover branded cars were produced whilst Ford owned the brand. As part of Ford's agreement to sell their Jaguar & Land Rover operations early this year to Tata Motors, the Rover brand name was included in the deal.

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Friday 27th October 2006

10 years ago

Albrecht Graf Goertz (92), German who designed cars for BMW including the BMW 503 and BMW 507, died.

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Wednesday 15th November 2006

10 years ago

BMW announced the start of production of the BMW Hydrogen 7, the world’s first hydrogen-powered luxury saloon car.

BMW Hydrogen 7 engine.

BMW Hydrogen 7 engine.

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Saturday 25th November 2006

10 years ago

Alex Zanardi, who lost both his legs in a crash five years earlier, tested an F1 car for the first time since his accident. Driving a modified BMW Sauber, he turned in good times which underlined his determination it would not purely be a publicity stunt. "I was a bit too big for the cockpit of this car," he joked, "so we cut something off my legs and made me a little bit shorter. I told the guys it was a much faster job than adjusting the pedals. It was just fantastic. A man loses his legs, people expect that he will just go home and change the channels on the TV with the remote control. I have shown that this guy can come back after that accident and have the same life. That is the great thing."

Alex Zanardi,

Alex Zanardi,

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Tuesday 28th November 2006

10 years ago

The limited-production BMW Hydrogen 7, the world’s first hydrogen-powered luxury saloon car, made its first public appearance at the Los Angeles Motor Show.

BMW Hydrogen 7

BMW Hydrogen 7

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Sunday 4th February 2007

10 years ago

Nick Heidfeld took his BMW Sauber for a run on a frozen lake in St Moritz Switzerland as part of an event for sponsors Credit Suisse. He ran on spiked tyres and the engine had to be warmed up with oil and water every half hour to stop it from freezing. Speaking after the event Heidfeld said: "That was quite a unique experience".

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Friday 30th March 2007

10 years ago

Luxury carmaker BMW opened its new 20 million euros ($26,554,000) factory in Chennai, India. The factory assembled an array of sporty BMW 3 Series and 5 Series autos targeted at the growing number of young upscale buyers.

BMW Plant, Chennai, India

BMW Plant, Chennai, India

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Monday 16th April 2007

9 years ago

A 2.0-litre petrol engine ordered by a customer for a new three-door version of the BMW 1 Series became the one millionth engine to be produced at the Hams Hall plant since production started at the state-of-the-art West Midlands factory in January 2001.

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Saturday 28th April 2007

9 years ago

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld made history as the first driver in over 30 years to tackle the Nürburgring Nordschleife track in a contemporary Formula One car. Heidfeld’s three demonstration laps round the German circuit in an F1.06 were the highlight of festivities celebrating BMW’s contribution to motorsport. About 45,000 spectators showed up for the main event. Former F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck was injured during the race when he crashed his BMW Z4.

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Tuesday 12th June 2007

9 years ago

The ground-breaking BMW Hydrogen 7 car, the ‘world’s first production-ready hydrogen vehicle’, was presented to the deputy mayor of London (Nicky Gavron) at City Hall to raise awareness of hydrogen as an alternative energy source for tomorrow’s consumers.

BMW Hydrogen 7 engine.

BMW Hydrogen 7 engine.

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Saturday 7th July 2007

9 years ago

The fourth Generation BMW M3 made its debut. Similar to the previous M3 generations that introduced a new engine, the fourth generation M3 did the same: the BMW S65 V8 engine. The engine produces 414 bhp (309 kW; 420 PS) at 8300 rpm, with peak torque of 295 lb·ft (400 N·m) at 3900 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. As of April 2008, BMW offers a new seven speed Getrag double-clutch gearbox, called M-DKG (Doppel-Kupplungs-Getriebe) or M-DCT (Double Clutch Transmission) as an option, which reduces shift pauses to less than a tenth of a second and shortens the car's 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint time by 0.2 seconds vs. manual. It features both automatic and manual modes. Testing by Car and Driver magazine has shown that the 2011 M3 equipped with an M-DCT transmission accelerated from 0–60 mph in 3.9 seconds and went on to record a 12.4 second quarter mile time.This is almost half a second quicker than 2008–2010 M3 models with the same engine and transmission.

Fourth Generation BMW M3

Fourth Generation BMW M3

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Sunday 9th September 2007

9 years ago

Top Gear participated in the 2007 Britcar 24-hour race at Silverstone, where the hosts (including The Stig) drove a race-prepared, second-hand diesel BMW 330d and finished 3rd in class and 39th overall. The car was fuelled using biodiesel refined from crops shown during a tractor review in the previous series.

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Sunday 16th March 2008

9 years ago

The first race of the season was held in Australia in front of 200,000 spectators and it marked the 250th grand prix start for Rubens Barrichello. It was not a happy day for him, however, as he was disqualified after ignoring a red light at the pit-lane exit. Lewis Hamilton qualified his McLaren Mercedes on pole position, and went on to win the race and that year's drivers' championship. Nick Heidfeld finished second in a BMW Sauber car, with Nico Rosberg third in a Williams, his first ever F1 podium. The race saw a very high rate of attrition, with only seven cars out of the 22-car grid running at the chequered flag – which reduced from seven to six after Rubens Barrichello's disqualification – with two other drivers being classified as they had completed at least 90% of the 307.574 km race distance in order for classification.

Lewis Hamilton - Melbourne,

Lewis Hamilton - Melbourne, "008

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Monday 31st March 2008

8 years ago

BMW announced its latest milestone in its pursuit of the hydrogen future, the BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel. Based on the BMW Hydrogen 7 bi-fuel version (gasoline and hydrogen), the mono-fuel vehicle's internal combustion engine was optimized to run solely on hydrogen and shared the performance, comfort, and safety qualities of every production BMW 7 Series.

BMW Hydrogen 7

BMW Hydrogen 7

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Sunday 6th July 2008

8 years ago

Contested over 60 laps of the Slverstone circuit, the British Grand Prix was won by Lewis Hamilton for the McLaren team after starting from fourth position on the grid. Nick Heidfeld finished second in a BMW Sauber car, with Rubens Barrichello third in a Honda. Hamilton's win tied him for the lead of the Drivers' Championship, alongside Massa and Räikkönen.

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Saturday 4th April 2009

7 years ago

Up until this date, the late and great Juan Manuel Fangio held a little known record. For nearly 55 years the five-time World Champion was the only driver ever to put a brand new car on pole position in both of the first two Grands Prix of a debutant team. That was back in 1954, driving a silver arrow Mercedes-Benz. Jenson Button, in the new Brawn Formula 1 car, scored the 2nd pole position in a row for Brawn GP at the Malaysian Grand Prix with the driver and team thus matching the Fangio/Mercedes achievement. The race was due to be contested over 56 laps, but due to torrential rain, the race was stopped after 31 laps. The race was won by Jenson Button.. Nick Heidfeld was classified second for BMW Sauber with Timo Glock third for Toyota. As the race did not reach the required 75% distance (42 laps) needed for full points to be awarded, half-points were given instead for only the fifth time in Formula One history, and the first since the 1991 Australian Grand Prix. The race distance of 171.833 km, was the fifth shortest ever covered in a World Championship Grand Prix. Brawn GP became only the second constructor to win their first two World Championship Grands Prix since Alfa Romeo won the first two ever, in 1950.

Brawn GP -2009 - Jenson Button

Brawn GP -2009 - Jenson Button

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Thursday 3rd March 2011

6 years ago

It was announced that Bristol Cars had gone into administration, with the immediate loss of 22 jobs. The first car, the 1947 Bristol 400, was heavily based on pre-WW2 BMWs. The body looked very like the BMW 327, while its engine and suspension were clones of BMW designs (engine and front suspension based on those of the BMW 328, rear suspension from the BMW 326). Even the famous double-kidney BMW grille was carried over intact. Until 1961 all Bristol cars used evolutions of the 6-cylinder BMW-derived engine. This well-regarded engine also powered a number of sports and racing cars, including all post-war Frazer Nash cars (apart from a few prototypes), some ACs, some Lotus and Cooper racing cars, and several others. Some Bristol cars were made in chassis form and then bodied by specialist firms such as the lightweight Zagato bodies and the custom line of Arnolt Bristols. In 1961, with the launch of the Bristol 407, the company switched to larger Chrysler V8 engines, which were more suitable for the increasingly heavy cars. All post-1961 Bristols including the Blenheim and Fighter models use Chrysler engines. From 1960 to 1973, former racing driver T.A.D. Tony Crook and Sir George White owned Bristol Cars; In 1973, Sir George sold his stake to Tony Crook. In 1997, Toby Silverton came on board and there followed the greater level of development of cars seen in recent years (particularly, the new Bristol Fighter). Crook eventually sold the company to Silverton in 2001. In April 2011, the company was purchased by Kamkorp. Since 2011, the company has restored and sold all models of the marque while a new model is being developed

Bristol 401 (1948-53)

Bristol 401 (1948-53)

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Tuesday 17th April 2012

4 years ago

An original E30 BMW M3 from the eighties isn’t normally what you’d think of as an electric car, but Croatian Mate Rimac fitted one with 440kW motor and went on to set an 11.85-second quarter mile record in Velika Gorica. The e-M3, which was built by Rimac’s company of the same name, was travelling at 75.94mph when it crossed the line and can cover 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds.

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Thursday 14th June 2012

4 years ago

MINI officially debuted the “new look” MINI Rocketman for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The updated Rocketman was displayed at the BMW Group Pavilion during the games. The three-door, 3+1 seater was around 70 cm shorter than the Mini Hatch and used a carbon fibre-reinforced-plastic space-frame chassis. It was designed to seat three with an additional seat available for extra journeys.

MINI Rocketman

MINI Rocketman

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Friday 5th July 2013

3 years ago

The last BMW M3 coupe rolled off the assembly line in Germany.

BMW M3 coupe

BMW M3 coupe

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Friday 14th November 2014

2 years ago

The most donuts around a car driving on two wheels in one minute of 10, was achieved by Han Yue (China) and Zhang Shengjun (Chinese Taipei) driving a MINI three door hatch and a BMW M4 Coupe in Chongqing, China.

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