In Ocotber 1913 Karl Friedrich Rapp established “Rapp-Motorenwerke” in a former bicycle factory near Munich. Mr. Rapp was an engineer at airplanes. He starts manufacturing his own aircraft engines but unfortunately they suffered form problems with vibrations. Close to Rapp´s factory, Gustav Otto, the son of the inventor of the four-stroke internal combustion engine, sets up a business building small aircrafts. Otto enjoys great success with “Gustav Flugmaschinefabrik”. In 1916, Rapp’s company has secured a contract with Prussia and Austro-Hungary to produce 25 large V12 aircraft engines. Rapp Motoren Werke had problems with the reliability of the engines so they began buying four-cylinder water-cooled aircraft engines from the Gustav Otto factory. In the following months Otto’s company is absorbed. Gustav Otto´s “Gustav Flugmaschinefabrik” merging with “Rapp-Motorenwerke” formed “Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke”, meaning “Bavarian Aircraft Works”. Then Franz-Josef Popp, an Austrian engineer, directed Rapp’s business. He was securing the all-important military contracts. Popp transformed then the existing company into “Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH” (BMW). BMW formally has its birthday at March 7, 1916. Shortly after the merge, Popp realized that the company expanded too quickly and they needed financial help. He turned to Camillo Castiglioni, a Vienna financier, who was head of the Wiener Bankverein. Popp and Castiglioni recapitalized the company.
In 1919, after the armistice was signed, the Allies prohibited German military to produce aircraft engines that’s why BMW turned to boat and truck engines and farming equipment. Meanwhile, in secret, Popp continued to work with his engineering director Friz on aircraft engines. After one year the current BMW logo was made. It was based on the circular design of an aircraft propeller.
The year of 1928 marks the beginning in terms of the BMW car. BMW buys the car factory at Eisenach/Thuringia and with it the license to build a small car called the Dixi 3/15. The BMW Dixi was the competition for the Austin 7. The BMW Dixi DA/1 (DA standing for Deutsche Ausfuhrung) is essentially the german version. The first Dixis used an open roof and were powered by a 743cc 4 cylinder engine producing 15 horsepower. Top speed was in the neighborhood of 80 km/h. The Dixi 3/15 PS was built under license from Austin and was essentially the same model as the US Bantam and the Japanese Datsun. In 1929 a new improved version was launched, the DA/2, which employed an all-steel body and 4-wheel brakes, and in 1930 the Dixi scored its first wins in motor racing. Total production: 18,976 units.
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