BMW Centenary: Our 7 all time favorite BMWs

Written by Matt de Prez @mattdeprez

Happy Birthday BMW. 100 years ago to the day, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG was officially entered into the commercial register and today marks a special celebration at BMW headquarters where BMW will outline its vision for the next 100 years.

The celebration includes a reveal of the Vision Next 100 concept car which, following today’s presentation in Munich, will be taken around the world as part of an exhibition to celebrate BMW’s achievements to date and future plans. It has been developed to retain “sheer driving pleasure” but also has the option of full autonomy.


Enough about the future, here is our pick of the last 100 years;

1972 3.0 CSL


Built under ‘BMW Motorsport’ this homologation special was nicknamed the ‘Batmobile’ and was the first BMW to wear the CSL badge. It stands for ‘Coupe Sport Leicht’ and featured a lot of race derived engineering. Thinner steel was used along with aluminium doors, bonnet and boot lid. There was less trim inside and perspex side windows.

1978 BMW M1


The ‘M’ car is born! BMW built the M1 as a production race car, Lamborghini was initially involved in the chassis but pulled out and final engineering was completed by a team of ex Lambo employees. Only 453 were built but the 3.5 litre straight-six 273BHP engine lived on in the M635csi and original M5.

1986 BMW E30 M3


Generally regarded as one of the best cars of all time, the e30 M3 was the first of what we now know as the benchmark performance coupe. Its 2.3 litre engine developed 195BHP in road form and 300BHP in racing versions. The wider track is accommodated by trademark wider body panels and uprated brakes and suspension complete the package. Evo models came later with a 2.5 litre 235BHP engine.

1989 BMW E34 M5


Despite not being the first M5, the e34 managed to get all the ingredients of a great performance car and was the last hand-built M car. The 310BHP engine is derived from that in the iconic M1 mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Its light weight and precision handling mean it is still one of the best cars to drive today.

2000 BMW e46 M3


Taking over from the e36, the e46 was a marked step up for the 3 series. The e46 M3 has a 3.2 litre straight-six developing 343BHP. In 2001 it was crowned international engine of the year. The reason we love this car is because its the most accessible ‘great’ BMW currently out there. Good examples can be had for under £10,000 and are plentiful. Everyone should drive and e46 M3 at some point in their life.

2005 BMW e60 M5


The e60 was a technology masterpiece, taking over from the e39 which famously has more computing power than the apollo space missions. The e39 was an excellent car but we can’t ignore the howling V10 that graced the M5 for one generation, allowing it to reach 200MPH if the speed limiter was removed, before being replaced by a turbo V8.

2015 BMW i8


The i8 has re-written the supercar rule book. Its tiny 1.5 litre three-cylinder engine pumps out 231BHP, then there is the 131BHP electric motor which work together to get the i8 to 60MPH in a little over 4 seconds. BMW are at the forefront of lightweight engineering and on board technology, achieving 134MPG, you can even plug it into the mains and use it as a pure electric car if you wish.


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