The comments section might be set ablaze but, believe it or not, the Daily News Autos is here to tell you that the iconic BMW logo does not represent a stylized airplane propeller.
Don’t feel bad, the idea that the famous BMW Roundel has roots in aviation stretches back almost to the very founding of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, which happened way back on March 7, 1916.
And yes, the firm’s first technical creations happened to be aircraft engines. So wait a minute, how the heck can we be so smug about the BMW logo not having something to do with airplanes?
You can blame the world of marketing and advertising for this Bavarian-themed level of miscommunication.
The blue and white logo is borrowed from the colors in the Bavarian flag, nothing more. Go ahead and Google search “Bavarian flag,” we’ll wait while you do.
While it’s true that BMW got its start in aircraft engines, the close of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles forbade the company from continuing down its original path. After the conclusion of WWI, BMW moved into motorcycle manufacturing. Eventually, the company was also allowed to restart the aviation side of its business.
It was an advertisement used in the late-1920s, in which the BMW logo cleverly represented the spinning propellers of an airplane, that we encounter the foundation of the famous Roundel/propeller controversy. Yes, the logo represented plane propellers – but only in the ad, not the logo in general.
The advertisement must have been popular, because for decades since, most people assume design and colors of the BMW Roundel are firmly rooted in aviation.
Around the same time this ad apperared, so did the first BMW motorcar. The thin-tired and dainty-looking BMW Dixi 3/15 PS was powered by a small 4-cylinder engine that produced a grand total of 15-horsepower. Small, simple, and quite cheap; the little Dixi helped BMW survive the Great Depression, which arrived only months after the car first went on sale.
Somewhat ironically, this first BMW automobile owed nearly all of its design to the Austin 7, a huge sales hit that was originally designed and engineered entirely…in Britain!