Founded in 1916, Bayerische Motoren Werke (or Bavarian Motor Works, in English) incorporates the Bavarian state colors, the second-largest state in Germany that includes the capital city Munich. Early advertising represented the colors in a rotating propeller, suggesting the company made airplanes. But that’s not the case; it made engines. Its first complete vehicle manufactured and sold in 1923 was the R 32 motorcycle, which featured a boxer engine design still used today. BMW didn’t make cars until 1928.
A BMW wheel sits on display at the Chicago Auto Show Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Chicago.