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///BMW Motorsport: The reasons behind the color choices

“Companies are like human beings. Sport is beneficial for their form, endurance, dynamism and performance. These are the words of Robert A. Lutz, then Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG in charge of sales, in 1972, at the birth of the brand new subsidiary of BMW AG, BMW Motorsport GmbH.

Let's start with a bit of history with the creations of BMW and ///M Motorsport


Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH was founded by Karl Rapp on February 15, 1912 in Munich. Its founder, Karl Rapp, is one of three aircraft engine suppliers to the Austrian army. The Austro-Daimler engines that he manufactured under license were not very reliable, but time was running out on the eve of the First World War.

In 1914, Max Fritz was a talented engineer and a genius creator. His first passion was aviation, but that did not prevent him from designing the first BMW motorcycle.

Together with Gustav Otto, he bought the Rapp Motoren Werke. The company takes the name of Bayerische Fluqzeug Werke whose head office is in Munich.

On July 20, 1916, in the middle of the First World War, BMW was born in Bavaria following a financial disagreement, Gustav Otto left the company. BMW is not yet born and is already in danger of disappearing! Three men will join forces to take it over: the engineer Max Friz, the Viennese Franz-Josef Popp and the head of the Wiener bank-Verein, Camillo Castiglioni. The company changed its name once again to Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH. BMW has just been born. Herr Rapp leaves the company, the BMW GmbH is dissolved and reformed immediately with a capital of 12 million marks under the name of BMW AG.

The acronym BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Engine Factory).

After the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, prohibited German industries from pursuing any activity in the military and aeronautical fields. This is a severe setback for the young company, which has just proved once again its mastery of experimental engines, with a flight at a record attitude of 9760 meters. BMW finds as a customer a railway equipment company that manufactures pneumatic brakes. Max Friz, one of BMW's associates, designs truck, boat and industrial engines to convert his business into the civilian sector, which are sold under the "Bayern Motor" brand.

But above all, Max Friz had a dream, to produce a motorcycle and drew some plans and designed a first model in 1920. From 1922, BMW presented the R32 which would establish the brand in the motorcycle segment with a commitment to competition. It was the R37 presented in 1924 that obtained the first laurels for BMW and set two-wheel speed records.

From now on, BMW thinks of the automobile and develops a small car with traction with independent wheels. After three prototypes made, this attempt remained unsuccessful because this project is too complex to implement and requires too much investment compared to the too low outlets. But the idea of ​​the automobile germinates at BMW, the company ends up offering an already existing brand: Dixi.

The automobile, BMW's new market

Dixi was a small German company that produced Austin Sevens under license. BMW takes over this production under its own coat of arms and gradually modifies the car which evolves slightly. The BMW 3/15 are thus the first cars of BMW but the Bavarian firm does not make an excellent deal: paying the license prevents modernizing the car. However, BMW made an effort to develop its own cars in the early 1930s, BMW shifted from a producer of inexpensive cars to one of luxury cars.

With the Second World War, BMW resumed production of aircraft engines and vehicles for military use. From then on, the production of civilian cars decreased to the point of becoming almost zero in 1942. At that time, some engineers continued to study civilian models rather than participate in the German war effort. But in 1944, the BMW factories in Munich were bombed several times, destroying the working tool. In 1945, Germany lost the war.

Germany lost the war. The situation of the company is so catastrophic that it will take 15 years of effort to recover. The Americans decide on the complete dismantling of the Milbertshofen factory and the distribution of machine tools and other usable supplies among all the countries that have suffered from the Third Reich, i.e. about 40 nations. All this cost BMW some 4,000 machines, plans and other working tools worth 100 million marks. This sum amounts to 380 million marks with the confiscation of five other factories.

In 1946, the Eisenach factory became a Soviet company called Autowelo. While BMW is struggling to recover in the west, in the east the communists build BMWs identical to the pre-war models, although much less well assembled. The emblem has not changed shape but color. It is red and white with writing on it not BMW but EMW (Eisenach Motoren Werke) - Confusion sets in until 1951. BMW files a lawsuit and obtains compensation. In 1952 the EMW was renamed Wartburg.

1948 is the year of the restart, the allies authorize the production of motorcycles, then later it is the turn of the automobile.

1951, presentation of the 501 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the first post-war car, but no customer will be able to have their car before November 1952 because BMW cannot yet produce any of the bodies planned for complete lack of tools. The first 2,045 will be made by Baur.

Then, the story continues so that BMW becomes the one we know it today; a car brand where the "pleasure of driving takes precedence", it lacks more than the sporty side to be developed, ///M Motorsport is there to be "The ultimate driving machine".

///M Motorsport

In 1972, the subsidiary BMW Motorsport GMBH in Munich was founded and entrusted to the former driver Jochen Neerspach. Nearly 50 engineers invest ultra-modern workshops to work on special engines, preparations for competitions and the approvals required in the various disciplines. The same year, the French stylist Paul Bracq created a sensation by unveiling in August a futuristic BMW Turbo with "butterfly" doors, the silhouette of which would be found in that of the M1 which has remained in all memories.

At present, it employs around 590 people, half of them in

the field of M vehicles. In addition to technical developments, specialists are responsible for most of the tests. BMW Ms are produced at BMW factories.

Automotive fans know that the "M" in BMW M originally stood for "Motorsport" in German.

Logo ///M Motorsport is made up of 3 bands of colors before the famous M. But what do the colors of these bands represent?

Blue :

It is Le Bleu Bavarois, obviously representing the founding city of the BMW brand, which is also found on the BMW emblem, a sign of belonging to the brand.

The Red :

Marc Thiesbürger, automotive and motorsport historian of the BMW Group, has found various sources in the company archives and can rely on the statements of many witnesses from the past who are still alive. According to him, ... , the red was probably inspired by the Texaco company and the purple results from the mixture of the two previous colors, a pragmatic choice. Asked about the "Texaco legend", he explained it as follows: "The red of Texaco most likely slipped into the colors of BMW Motorsport despite the fact that sponsorship negotiations with this company failed at the end of the year 1972, so the deal was ultimately never signed. »

The BMW historian nevertheless considers this explanation plausible, since already in 1972, designer Wolfgang Seehaus was already integrating the Texaco logo into projects aimed at designing racing cars. Various drawings kept in the archives of the BMW Group prove this. And this at a time when BMW competed in car races with the support of Castrol – whose logo is notoriously green. According to Marc Thiesbürger, it was on the one hand unusual to anticipate the use of the color red, the negotiations concerning a possible collaboration having only just begun. But on the other hand, it was perhaps a question of flattering the ego of this potential partner and thus trying to convince him to join forces with BMW.

However, BMW, after its failed partnership with Texaco, had to buy from the oil company the right to exploit the red color that the latter had deposited.

Purple :

You take blue, mix it with red and it gives you purple, as simple as that!

Mauve therefore represents the marriage of BMW (Blue) with Motorsport (Red).

And there you have it, the mystery of ///M's colors is solved.


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