BMW M (Motorsport) is a high-performance brand that specialises in the production of sports cars and sedans, as well as their racing derivatives. The brand was founded in March 1972 by former BMW Motorsport Director Jochen Neerpasch. Initially branded as BMW Motorsport GmbH (and more simply known as BMW Motorsport), this company had been set up to oversee BMW’s motorsport division, which included rallying and Formula Two racing.
In May 1975, the first car produced under the new sub-brand emerged – the 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ race car based on a Group 5 version of the standard 3 Series Coupe body, which featured an air kit including a large air dam and spoiler, and wide wheel arches.
BMW Motorsport entered in 1980 the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race with the BMW CSL ‘Batmobile’ race car again, equipped this time with a slightly smaller V12 engine. The new race car was based on the 1981 model year homologation road-legal production version, which had formed the basis for its Group 5 silhouette touring car racing homologation requirements.
A few years later, in 1986, BMW officially introduced an M version of their all-new E30 3 Series compact executive/coupé that was initially available as an improvement package for the standard car known internally by factory code M88/1. Unlike what it may have looked to some observers, BMW’s initial naming nomenclature for this car was not intended to identify it as an M-version of the E30. Instead, the designation “M535i” originally applied only to the six-cylinder body, which had been developed by BMW Motorsport GmbH (rather than by BMW Technik GmbH) specifically for use in this one racing event, before being homologated as a Group A Touring Car for Group A FIA World Championship motor racing. The first production model officially available from BMW M was marketed initially simply as ‘M5’.
Fast-forward to modern times and check out this infographic to see how BMW M has evolved.
Infographic Created By Trade Price Cars