Part 19: The History of BMW; About the BMW M3 GTRThe History of BMW
BMW, or Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, is a German automobile, motorcycle, and engine manufacturing company founded in 1917. Along with Audi and Mercedes-Benz, it's one of the "German Big 3", which are the three best-selling luxury automakers in the world.
Originally part of an aircraft manufacturing firm, BMW was established after a restructuring of said firm. However, it was forced to stop making aircraft engines due to the terms of the Versailles Treaty following World War I. It began making motorcycles in 1923 after the restrictions began to be lifted, and automobiles in 1928-29. The Dixi was the first car produced and sold by BMW, but like other German automakers in World War II, BMW turned to making aircraft engines and other war machinery.
Following the war, BMW was having financial difficulties. In 1959 the automotive division of the company was forced to make a decision of either going into liquidation or find a way of continuing business, and they decided to continue by cashing in on the car boom enjoyed by other ex-aircraft manufacturers. They bought rights to Italian cars, modified them so they could run on motorcycle engines, and made bank.
In the 90s and early 2000s, BMW continued to expand and divide its shares, and unlike other automakers, it continued to do quite well for itself without having to rely on mergers and one-sided alliances with other bigger companies. It continues to succeed, and BMW was listed as the #1 most reputable company in the world by Forbes.com in June 2012. Whether this streak of good fortune continues in these days of economic troubles remains to be seen.
About the BMW M3 GTR
The BMW M3 GTR is a race-worthy version of the E46 M3 series of BMW cars which were introduced in October 2000. The GTR can pump out 493 hp and has a V8 engine, and seeing as the M3 series already had a good reputation as sports cars, the GTR takes on that and improves it.
Built to take on the Porsche 996 GT3, which outpaced the other M3 versions of the car, the GTR dominated in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), and Porsche complained that the car was in violation of the spirit of Gran Turismo because there was no V8 engine in the road-going BMW E46. As a result, BMW put ten road-going GTRs to fulfill regulations before the twelve months of the rules being issued ran out. Later, alterations to the ALMS rules in 2002 forced carmakers to make at least 100 cars and 1,000 engines to qualify a new car in a race, and BMW decided to pull out of the ALMS, ending the M3 GTR's racing career.
The M3 GTR did make a comeback in 2003 at the 24 Hours Nürburgring, winning 12 in 2004 and 2005, and private teams did take advantage of the serious engine for other races. The M3 GTR is now most widely-known as the player character's car in Need For Speed: Most Wanted and Carbon.
Triple A Says...
It was built to take on Porsche in ALMS when BMW's usual race cars weren't fast enough. That alone should tell you just how serious of a machine it is.