MWerks FAQ Topics

What does "BMW" stand for?

BMW is the abbreviation for Bayerische Motoren Werke, which is German for Bavarian Motor Works.

What is the significance of the BMW logo?

The blue and white circular emblem is commonly known as the "Roundel" and it represents a spinning airplane propeller (white) against the sky (blue). The logo originated when BMW was primarily an aircraft engine manufacturer prior to World War I, but has been retained for use on the company's cars and motorcycles as well.

What do the "E" model designations mean?

BMW assigns each of its model platforms a code name, primarily for its own internal use. However, these codes are commonly used among owners and enthusiasts to identify a certain model. Most models from the late 1960's on have an alpha-numeric code name that starts with an "E" and is followed by either one or two digits. The letter E is for the German word for development, Entwicklung.

Not every development makes it to production, so there are gaps between certain models. Having run out of double-digit E-codes, BMW has decided to switch to F-code designations starting with the 2009 7 Series, which will be designated F01. Here is a list of the E-code BMW models.
  • E3- 2500/2800 sedans, 1968-77
  • E9- 2000/2800 coupes, 1968-74
  • E12- 1st generation 5 Series, 1975-81
  • E21- 1st Generation 3 Series. 1976-83
  • E23- 1st Generation 7 Series, 1978-87
  • E24- 1st Generation 6 Series, 1977-89
  • E26- M1 Coupe, 1978-81
  • E28- 2nd Generation 5 Series, 1982-88
  • E30- 2nd Generation 3 Series, 1984-92
  • E31- 8 Series Coupe, 1991-97
  • E32- 2nd Generation 7 Series, 1987-1994
  • E34- 3rd Generation 5 Series, 1989-95
  • E36- 3rd Generation 3 Series, 1992-99
  • E36/5- 3rd Generation 3 Series Compact (hatchback), 1995-99
  • E36/7- Z3 Coupe/Roadster, M Coupe, M Roadster, 1996-2002
  • E38- 3rd Generation 7 Series, 1994-2001
  • E39- 4th Generation 5 Series, 1996-2004
  • E46- 4th Generation 3 Series, 1999-2005
  • E52- Z8 Roadster, 2000-03
  • E53- 1st Generation X5, 1999-2006
  • E60- 5th Generation 5 Series Sedan, 2005 to present
  • E61- 5th Generation 5 Series Wagon, 2005 to present
  • E62- 5th Generation M5 Sedan, 2006 to present
  • E63- 2nd Generation 6 Series Coupe, 2004 to present
  • E64- 2nd Generation 6 Series Convertible, 2005 to present
  • E65- 4th Generation 7 Series, standard wheelbase, 2002 to present
  • E66- 4th Generation 7 Series, long wheelbase, 2002 to present
  • E68- 4th Generation 7 Series Hydrogen
  • E70- 2nd Generation X5, 2007 to present
  • E71- 1st Generation X6, 2009
  • E72- 1st Generation X ActiveHybrid, 2009
  • E82- 1st Generation 1 Series Coupe, 2008 to present
  • E83- 1st Generation X3, 2003 to present
  • E85- Z4 Roadster, 2003 to present
  • E86- Z4 Coupe, 2005 to present
  • E88- 1st Generation 1 Series Convertible, 2008 to present
  • E90- 5th Generation 3 Series Sedan, 2005 to present
  • E91- 5th Generation 3 Series Wagon, 2006 to present
  • E92- 5th Generation 3 Series Coupe, 2006 to present
  • E93- 5th Generation 3 Series Convertible, 2007 to present

What are BMW's engine codes?

BMW has used numerous engine families over the years, including inline-4, inline-6, V-8, V-10 and V-12 designs. Typically, an engine with an M or N prefix denotes a standard production unit, while engines bearing an S prefix are from BMW's "M" motorsport division.

Here is a comprehensive list of BMW engine families complied by MWerks contributor Jared Robinson (aka Chapel):

Does BMW own MINI?

Yes. In January 1994 BMW bought the Rover Group of British automobile manufacturers from British Aerospace, which included Rover, MG, Land Rover, and Mini. By 1998, after losing millions of dollars, they sold off all but the Mini brand. In 2002, the first New MINI was offered for sale, developed entirely under BMW's leadership.

Does BMW own Rolls-Royce?

Yes. In 1998 BMW acquired the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand from Volkswagen, who retained the Bentley brand after purchasing the automotive arm of Vickers, Ltd. that formerly owned both carmakers. BMW, however, was not allowed to sell any vehicles under the Rolls-Royce name until January1, 2003.

Since taking ownership of the "world's best car" company, BMW has introduced three ultra-exclusive models based on the same platform; the Phantom Limousine (2003), the Phantom Drophead Coupe (Convertible, 2006), and the Phantom Coupe (2007).

Does BMW make airplanes?

No, but that is how the company got its start. The first name of the company was Bayerische Flugzeugwerke, Bavarian Aircraft Works. The company produced aircraft engines for the German Air Force during WWI. With the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the company, now called BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavain Motor Works) was no longer permitted to build aircraft components.

Does BMW make motorcycles?

Yes. After World War I BMW was forced out of the aircraft business and focused its knowledge on building motorcycles and cars. Max Friz, BMW's chief designer at the time, translated his expertise in aircooled aircraft engines into the company's first motorcycle engine in just four weeks. The legendary two-cylinder "boxer" engine was born in 1921.

Following World War II, BMW was forbidden from making motorcycles as well. But by 1948 those restrictions had eased and BMW was back in the business of building motorbikes. Today BMW manufactures an extensive line of sport, cruising, touring and enduro models.

Where are BMW's headquarters?

BMW's world headquarters are in Munich, Germany. The company offices reside in an iconic building that features a "four-cylinder' tower design.

Where are BMWs built?

While BMW is a German company, it produces cars all over the world today. Full manufacturing facilities exist in Germany (Munich, Leipzig, Berlin, Dingolfing, Eisenach, Landshut, Regensburg, and Wackersdorf), South Africa (Rosslyn), and North America (Spartanburg, SC). BMW also assembles vehicles from major components in emerging markets such as Jakarta, Kuala Lampur, Chennai, Rayong, and Leningrad and has a joint-venture plant in Shenyang, China.

What is built at the BMW factory in the United States?

Officially known as BMW Manufacturing Corporation, the Spartanburg plant produces Z4 coupes and roadsters, the X5 Sport Activity Vehicle and the X6 Sport Activity Coupe. The next generation X3 Sport Activity Vehicle will also be built in Spartanburg.

How do I arrange a factory tour?

BMW conducts tours of most of its manufacturing facilities including the main plant in Munich and the Spartanburg plant in North America. Tours at most plants are conducted for groups, separated by language, to facilitate enthusiasts from around the world. Each manufacturing facility books its own tours, but BMW Customer Service can get the ball rolling for you. Contact them at 1.888.868.7269.

Does BMW participate in motorsports?

Yes. BMW Motorsport is currently involved in several professional racing series. In open-wheel racing, BMW competes in Formula One with its BMW Sauber F1 team, as well as hosting its own Formula BMW series worldwide. In production-based racing, BMW currently competes in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), but in 2009 will also compete in the American LeMans Series (ALMS) in North America.

What is the "M" division?

In 1972 BMW established a separate company dedicated to racing, known as BMW Motorsport. The company initially focused its attention on road racing machines like the 3.0 CS coupes. The 1978 M1 supercar was the company's first production road car, but the E30 M3 was the first M model to gain widespread popularity with performance driving enthusiasts.

In order to stay focused on professional racing efforts, BMW Motorsport handed over development of road cars to the newly formed "M" division in 1999? Today's M division encompasses BMW M Automobiles, BMW Individual and BMW Driver Training. Current M production vehicles include M3, M5, M6 and Z4M coupes and roadsters.

The Ultimate Driving Machine?

In 1975 BMW adopted the advertising tagline "The Ultimate Driving Machine" as a way to clearly communicate its priorities as a small, premium carmaker. For more than three decades, many BMWs have been sold on that perception. Whether or not a BMW is actually the ultimate driving machine is left up to personal interpretation, but the company has consistently delivered vehicles of all types that feature spirited performance, athletic dynamics and are designed primarily from the driver's perspective.

Can I take delivery of my BMW in Europe?

Yes. Models that are built in Europe may be picked up in Munich at the BMW Delivery Center. You order your BMW for European Delivery at your local BMW center. Once you've taken delivery of your new BMW you can drive it throughout Europe. Many customers enjoy the experience of breaking in their new BMW on the Autobahn. Upon completion of your trip, you simply drop your car at one of several locations throughout Europe, where it will be shipped to your dealership for Stateside delivery.

Is there an official BMW museum?

Yes. The BMW Museum is located in Munich, adjacent to the headquarters building and main plant. However, the museum exhibits are currently housed in a temporary facility nearby while the distinctive bowl-shaped building undergoes renovation. The museum will reopen on June 19th, 2008.

To complement the museum, BMW opened what it calls BMW Welt (literally, BMW World) just across the street from the museum. BMW Welt opened to the public on October 17, 2007 and features not only the new customer delivery center, but also an accessories boutique, fine dining, interactive children's displays and current production models in a showroom setting. The Munich plant is connected to BMW Welt, where plant tours originate, and will also connect to the museum when it re-opens.

What is the Performance Driving Center?

When BMW acquired land for its manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, SC, it also developed the Performance Driving Center (PDC) as a place to host advanced driver training for North American BMW drivers. In addition to one- and two-day Performance Driving Schools, the PDC also host teen driving schools that focus on safe driving and car control, and the M School for owners of high-performance M cars.

Is there a BMW club?

Yes. The BMW Car Club of America is an independent organization dedicated to the enjoyment of BMW vehicles. Club events are heavily focused on driving activities, including autocross, high-performance driving events (track days) and club racing. The national club has numerous local chapters throughout the United States, each of which sets its own calendar of events. For more information about the club visit

Is MWerks affiliated with BMW?

No. Neither MWerks nor any of its staff is affiliated with BMW AG, BMW North America, or any BMW dealer. MWerks is an independent editorial publication and resource for BMW owners and enthusiasts. MWerks is owned by Vortex Media Group, Inc., publisher of,, and BMW North America provides access to its vehicles and certain events for the purposes of creating original editorial content.