It was a bit of a disappointment when we first learnt that the BMW badge, one of the most iconic corporate logos in history, is not the clever nod to the brand’s aircraft heritage as we were led to believe.

If you’re not clued in, let’s get it straight: The BMW badge does not depict a spinning aeroplane propeller.

It’s a shame really, because BMW’s roots can be traced back to the building of aircraft engines, but it’s no more than a lucky coincidence.

Such a lucky coincidence that BMW made the connection in various advertising material, with one ad in 1929 showing a spinning aeroplane propeller with the famous four blue quadrants and BMW lettering visible. You get the impression that the good folks at BMW wished they’d thought of it first.

BMW Badge propeller

This myth has long been debunked, but many still believe it. Even INFO MOTO’s own Snag perpetuated the idea in an article last year. It’s possible that he still believes it, at least until he reads this yarn.

As it unveiled the latest iteration of its corporate logo last year, the German automotive giant published an article admitting that while the iconic BMW badge has never represented an aeroplane propeller, for many years it was happy to keep the myth alive.

Roundel logo

“Many people believe the BMW logo is a stylised propeller,” said BMW Group Classic head Fred Jakobs in an article. “But the truth is a little different.”

“For a long time, BMW made little effort to correct the myth that the BMW badge is a propeller,”

“This interpretation has been commonplace for 90 years, so in the meantime it has acquired a certain justification,” explained Jakobs.

BMW R 32 1923

The BMW name dates back to 1917, and comes from titles Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works. It emerged from a renaming of the aircraft engine manufacturer Rapp Motorenwerke.

BMW’s iconic logo is in fact a combination of Rapp Motorenwerke’s original emblem, and the colours of the State of Bavaria, white and blue.

The BMW logo was first placed on a motorcycle in 1923 when the company released its now-lauded R 32, and while it has had slight adjustments over the years, it is essentially the same emblem design you will see on modern BMW motorcycles today.

BMW R 18 2021

Can we all just agree to pretend the BMW badge is a propeller? In this case, we reckon the truth is overrated.

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2 years ago

When touring the BMW factory in Munich, the airplane prop concept was presented as fact by the officials.