What does ‘BMW’ actually stand for?

BMW is one of the world's biggest car manufacturers, but do you know what the letters stand for? Chances are it's not what you think.

Published on Sep 28, 2023 at 1:21PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Sep 28, 2023 at 1:21PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Kate Bain
What does BMW stand for?

The brand BMW is synonymous with ‘driving pleasure’ – but have you ever paused to consider what those three letters actually stand for?

Currently at number six in the rankings of global producers of cars and motorcycles, it was first founded in 1916.

But the brand has gone through a massive evolution since the first car left its production line.

READ MORE! Meet the BMW GINA, a fabric-skinned shape-shifting concept

It was initially named Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG.

And the words the letters roughly translate to the Bavarian Engine Works Company.

The brand can trace its roots to Rapp-Motorenwerke GmbH, which was named after one of the company’s original founders Karl Rapp.

It was founded in 1913 and made aircraft engines from 1917 to 1918 and again from 1933 to 1945. 

The first product it made was a straight-six aircraft engine called the BMW IIIa

It wasn’t until 1922 that it rebranded to ‘Bayerische Motoren Werke” in 1922’.

And the acronym of this is the brand name we all know: BMW.

In fact, BMW didn’t start making cars until 1928, when it merged with Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach.

The first car the brand ever sold as a BMW was a rebadged Dixi or BMW 3/15, which it made until 1931.

The brand then diversified, making sports cars and luxury vehicles.

The BMW logo we recognise was evolved from the Rapp Motorenwerke company logo.

It was first introduced in 1917 – and it’s changed very little since then.

Its blue and white shades are designed to represent the flag of the Free State of Bavaria.

People have since revealed they had no clue what BMW stood for.

A couple even took to social media to reveal what they thought it meant.

One person posted to X (formally Twitter) to say “my aunt said BMW really stands for body made wrong”.

“Bob Marley and Wailers,” another said.

“Blue Moon Wednesday,” said a third.

Now you know.

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