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BMW is a status car that comes with a stereotype that comes with a stereotype attached, but it also happens to be one of the oldest and best-known names in automotive history.

For many people, the BMW owner is a thirty-something exec flashing his headlights in your rearview while they swerve across all the lanes.

That’s the stereotype, but BMW is a lot more than an extension of a pushy exec’s ego; it also happens to be one of the oldest and best-known auto manufacturers in the world.

Although BMW is best known for its cars, its first business involved the designing and building of aircraft engines in 1913, followed by a move into motorcycle mechanics in the mid-1920s and then cars towards the end of the 20s.

Today Bayerische Motoren Werke (or “Bavarian Motor Works” in English) is one of the world’s biggest players in the auto manufacturing game, and to prove it, the company netted a little over €56 million last year in revenue.

BMW extended its global reach by acquiring smaller auto manufacturing companies. They bought the rights to British auto company Rover in 1994 and then sold it to Ford six years later after it yielded poor performance figures.

BMW still retains the rights to build the Mini Cooper series today, the first of which appeared seven years ago. It is also the parent company to luxury car manufacturers Rolls Royce.

BMW’s current ranges include the 1-series, the 3-series, the 5-series, the 6-series and the 7-series. It also boasts a roadster Z-range, as well as a set of sports utility vehicles known as the X-range.

BMW is equally popular in the racing fraternity as it is with the oily exec and the family man, hence the M-range of vehicles that boasts enhanced engineering for bigger, better performance.

This range is now enjoyed by BMW fans who want a little extra, but Ms were actually first developed for BMW’s racing team. After its launch, the M3 was considered a road-ready race car, and at one point, the beefier M5 was named the world’s fastest production vehicle.

This kind of success comes from a legacy of engineering competition machines that outstripped the competition every time.

BMW was successful on the world’s racing circuits in the 60s and 70s, and continues to reign supreme on the touring events circuits around the world. In fact, BMW took top honors at the World Touring Car Championship for the last three years and back in 1987. Similarly, their motorcycles proved unbeatable at the Paris Dakar Rally where they placed first six times.

Left and right-hand BMW vehicles are produced in four countries outside of Germany, namely South Africa, Australia, the UK and the United States. BMW also works in conjunction with a number of outside tuning companies like AC Schnitzer, Breyton, G-Power, Hartge, Hamman Sport and MK Sport. As one of the world’s leading car manufacturers of the past, the present and the future, BMW is also environmentally-conscious: last year they released a dual-mode vehicle running on hydrogen and gasoline, the BMW Hydrogen 7.

For many people, owning and driving a BMW is a life goal, a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

Year after year, car critics the world over agree that BMW is the leader when it comes to creating vehicles that combine reliability, luxury, performance and real value-for-money.

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