The BMW Museum is a Treasury of Icons
Photography by Andrey Smazhilo for Petrolicious
Unfortunately, nowadays people rarely think about the history of a brand when buying a car. Fuel-efficiency and other practical aspects have become far more important to the vast majority of modern consumers rather than aesthetic qualities and traditions. However, the latter are still of great importance to companies that produce some of the best vehicles in the world, especially in Germany, the country where automotive history begins. That’s why when I planned my trip there, the BMW Museum was on the list.
For BMW it all started with airplanes. However, after World War I they had to switch to building motorcycles, and soon thereafter, in 1928, the first BMW car was produced. Similar to success and failure, there is a very thin line between mass production and motorsport, and it took the company less than ten years to start racing the 328 model, which was introduced in 1936. Three years later, in 1939, it took a class win at Le Mans, coming fifth overall.
At the BMW Museum the exhibition doesn’t begin in the building, but on a small plaza out front because there’s always some action taking place, whether it’s a check-point for a classic rally or some car from the collection is basking in the sun. Moreover, when you finally enter to purchase a ticket, it only becomes more and more impressive because standing guard is the legendary 1972 BMW E25 Turbo, designed for the 1972 Munich Olympics by Mr. Paul Bracq.
As you go downstairs, deeper and deeper into the recesses of the building, it starts to reveal all of its secrets: the first BMW car, the first BMW straight-six engine, a lineage of racing engines, unique concept cars… Everything is on public display, so that you can study it in detail, easily spending a whole day in this treasury. And since BMW has been racing since 1936, there are racecars. A modest-looking BMW 2000 TI, that Messrs. Hubert Hahne and Jacky Ickx drove to win the Spa 24 Hours in 1966, stands next to the legendary ‘Batmobile’, a 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL, which needs no introduction.
In addition, there is one thing that made this exhibition so special. Legends. Decades ago, you had to be Elvis Presley or Alain Delon to own a BMW 507 and your chances of seeing one on the street were close to zero. However, in the museum the chances you’d miss it are close to zero. Another car to see is the M1. Its silhouette cannot be mistaken for anything but… Well, it does not need any description, does it? Nevertheless, should you also want to see BMW’s modern offerings, there is a facility called BMW Welt (‘World’ in German), located on the opposite side of the road from the Museum. This is where all current BMW models presented, including the latest M3 and M4. Obviously, the new M3 and M4 are different, compared to the older M cars, mostly due to the new turbocharged straight-six engines, but on the outside they are what BMW M cars have always been: stylish, masculine and desirable. If you find yourself in Munich with a spare day, make the BMW Museum is on the list.