BMW Malaysia will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of BMW M GmbH which takes place next Tuesday on 24th May 2022. Being synonymous for premium performance vehicle on road and on track, it is hard not to take notice to BMW Motorsport’s engineering to deliver exciting drive for daily driver to race car drivers.
No stranger to the motorsports scene in the 60s and 70s, BMW Motorsport GmbH was originally founded to facilitate the premium automaker’s foray in the world of performance driving, as well as meet the demands of drivers in competitions where most vehicles were prepared and sold by tuning companies. The division started out with 35 employees in 1972 and quickly became a fundamental part of the BMW Group, as it exemplified the engineers’ expertise in combining authentic motorsport functionality with exclusive and sporty aesthetics.
The car the team first worked on was the 3.0CSL which was created for the European Touring Car Championship. The race car went on to dominate the championship every year from 1975 to 1979. The 3.0CSL is also the models of the first two examples of the BMW Art Cars which were painted by renowned artists Alexander Calder and Frank Stella.
Let’s dive down the memory lane and learn what M Cars are capable of.
The BMW M1, Godfather of BMW M Cars.
But it is the legendary BMW M1 that became the first-ever official M car, making its debut in 1978. Boasting a powerful 6-cylinder in-line engine and a striking name, the BMW M1 became a major player in the automotive world from its debut. With only 456 units produced, the racing sports model was crowned Germany’s fastest road-going sports vehicle (264.7km/h). This was little compared to the racing version that had a top speed well over 300km/h, in which Niki Lauda made his big appearance and won three BMW M1 ProCar races. Its timeless design combined with pure racing technology were admired by fans of cars and racing alike that continues to do so to this day.
Although BMW M focused almost exclusively on the construction of performance and racing cars, many BMW enthusiasts were also looking for the BMW M power and badging on road cars. This is how the first BMW 5 Series arrived in the form of the BMW 530, BMW 533i and BMW 535i, paving the way for BMW M Performance upgrades for the future. While looking like the standard premium sedan at first sight, the cars became the first high-performance four-seaters revolutionising the world of sports vehicles through their sophisticated technology.
The BMW M3, Iconic Boxy German Perfection
The most historic year in the BMW M heritage was 1986, with the introduction of the BMW M3 (E30). Under the hood is the high-revving 2.3-litre inline 4-cylinder 16-valve unit with 200 bhp, later increasing up to 235 bhp in the Sport Evolution models. This allowed the BMW M3 to dominate on track, while also being superb on the road. When the car was presented at the IAA in Frankfurt in 1985, it was a sensation and the BMW M3 quickly became one of the most iconic BMW M vehicles in the line-up for its numerous championship victories in touring car racing.
The BMW M5, a Hand-Crafted BMW M
In 1985, the premiere of the BMW M5 (E28) series laid the foundations for an automotive legend. Combining elegance with breath-taking performance and technical innovation, it continues to delight generations of enthusiasts to this day. Indeed, the BMW M535i had been considered the benchmark in the business sedan class even before the BMW E28 emerged. Since its introduction, the BMW M5 pioneered the act between high performance and elegance in the segment. Its 3.5-litre inline 6-cylinder produced 286 hp, which had originally been developed for the legendary BMW M1. The whole BMW E28 generation was known to be built entirely handmade until the end of production.
The BMW M6 – BMW M’s First Luxury Sports Car
The BMW M635CSi is one of the most significant models in the history of BMW M. In 1984, the four-seater continued the concept of high-performance 6-cylinder in-line engines that the legendary BMW M1 had established just a few years earlier. But like no other BMW M model before it, it embodied the ultimate symbiosis of luxury and high performance. Dubbing it ‘Sharknose’ and ‘Bayern-Express’, the first ‘Six’ had a production period of over 13 years – 1976 to 1989 – making it BMW’s longest lasting series.
The BMW M2, a Compact High-Performance BMW Sports Car
The BMW M2 (F87) took on the role of the latest compact BMW M vehicle in 2016. A single glance is all it takes to pick the BMW M2 Coupé out as a member of the BMW M family, with its styling also keen to showcase its dynamic attributes. The low front apron with large air intakes, muscular flanks with characteristic M kidney grille, 19-inch aluminium wheels in familiar M double-spoke design and low, wide rear with M-specific twin-tailpipe exhaust system all play impressive roles here. This high-performance Coupé is equipped with the classic BMW M rear-wheel drive while 365 bhp is produced via its straight-six N55 engine. This particular engine was initially a tuned version of the one found in the BMW M235i, albeit with pistons from the BMW M3 (F80) / BMW M4 (F82).
The BMW M4, the New Interpretation of Fast Machines
The BMW M4 (F82) was first introduced at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in 2014 together with the fifth-generation of the BMW M3. At that time, BMW M GmbH decided to separate the Coupé and Convertible in name from the Sedan which continued to be called the BMW M3. The first-ever BMW M4 appeals to those who are looking for a driver-focused vehicle. Equipped with rear-wheel drive and using the same turbo-charged engine as the BMW M3, this BMW M4 makes no secret of its extraordinary performance potential. In 2016, a Competition Package was made available, offering upgrades such as enhanced springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, along with some styling enhancements and a 19-bhp power increase.
The BMW M8 – Sporty yet Refined
In the early 1990s, BMW’s engineers created a BMW M8 prototype based on the then BMW 8 Series Coupé (E31). However, the very first BMW M8 remained under wraps for almost two decades and it wasn’t until 2010 that this superlative sports car was finally revealed. Although it never made it as a production model, the unique prototype would certainly have made waves around the globe had it been released. The outstanding feature of the BMW M8 (E31) prototype is its large 6-litre engine. While V12 engines have always been amongst the most desired by true car enthusiasts, this one is a particularly unique – derived specifically from the S70 engine that was known for its top performance. The BMW M8 radiates timeless elegance, and the modifications fit seamlessly into the overall image of a large sports coupé, reinforcing the impression of an almost production-ready BMW M vehicle.
The BMW X5 M and BMW X6 M – The Need for Speed in Every Adventure
Fifteen years ago, BMW M presented its first SAVs: the BMW X5 M and BMW X6 M brought the first four-wheel drive and the first turbocharger to its line-up. The sportily tuned chassis and the enormously powerful engine of these two high-performance SAVs still guarantees adrenaline-charged driving dynamics to this day. Back in 2009, the driving dynamics were unrivalled, making the BMW X5 M and BMW X6 M the most acclaimed driving vehicles in their class at the time and giving them a reputation that still precedes them.
Today, the BMW X family that are powered with the BMW M DNA have extended to include the likes of the 2019 BMW X3 M Competition and BMW X4 M Competition, offering M car performance in a more compact SAV offering. This pair of BMW M SAVs took after the popularity started by the BMW X5 M, attracting new M owners and enthusiasts along the way.
Hans de Visser, Managing Director of BMW Group Malaysia said, “At the BMW Group, M remains the most powerful letter in the world, as it represents our high-performance vehicles born out of pure passion for motorsports. This fascination for power, speed and dynamics has put M on the map since 1972. Fifty years on, we are thrilled to be celebrating the legacy of the BMW Motorsport GmbH with a great community of owners and enthusiasts alike. This milestone is not one we could have achieved without their loyal support throughout these years.”
The Search for the Oldest BMW M Models in Malaysia.
As part of the celebrations, BMW Malaysia is searching for the oldest BMW M model in every model series in Malaysia with a nationwide call for submission from local owners. If you think you know of the oldest BMW M in the country, join in the celebrations by providing your details via link.
Winners will stand a chance to receive exclusive BMW M merchandise and a feature of their prized vehicle by BMW Group Malaysia. One winner will be selected for every BMW M model series, with special prizes for notable submissions as well. Submissions will close on 8th June 2022.