Think you know the origins of BMW’s trademark roundel? Think you know the meaning of the blue and white checkered pattern? Think again, because it may not be what you think it is.
I’ve been a fan of the marque for years, although owning a 3 series automobile proved to be disappointing from a mechanical reliability perspective. I’ve owned their motorcycles for years, and have toured the museum in Munich, the auto plant in Munich and their motorcycle plant in Spandau, a suburb of Berlin. Like most enthusiasts, I’d learned along the line that the roundel was a tribute to their aircraft manufacturing heritage, with the alternating blue and white representing the illusion of a spinning propellor.
Not so, according to BMW historian Kai Jacobsen. The BMW roundel incorporates the original round logo and black field with the company name of Rapp Motorenwerke (which became part of BMW in 1917), but adds the blue and white of the Bavarian flag, to symbolize the brands heritage. The logo was registered with the Imperial Patent Office in December of 1917, and first appeared on the BMW R32 motorcycle in 1924. It’s first use on a BMW automobile was on the 1928 3/15, which started out as the BMW Dixi, a rebadged Austin Seven.