Bimmer - December 2004

Review of The Development History of BMW Automobiles: 1918-1932 from Bimmer - December 2004

New books detail BMW history, ancient and modern

"BMW enthusiasts looking for more information on their favorite marque haven't had much to go on in the way of serious history, and even reliable reference volumes have been thin on the ground. That might be changing, however, if the arrival of two new books is any indication.

The fourth volume in BMW Mobile Tradition's superb Dimensions series, The Development History of BMW Automobiles 1918-1932 offers a detailed look at how BMW became a car company. With meticulous research, authors Rainer Simons and Walter Zeichner have packed the book's 439 pages with a wealth of words and stunning visuals gleaned from sales brochures and period photos. Its scope extends far beyond the tale of how BMW acquired the Eisenach factory and began rebadging Austin Sevens-it's as much a history of the entire German auto industry as a history of BMW. This is essential, because BMW entered the field of auto manufacture rather late, and it did so by bringing together a number of disparate elements rather than creating a new product from scratch.

Simonds and Zeichner—as well as Mobile Tradition—should be commended for their efforts in bringing this book to print. BMW enthusiasts and historians have long been in need of precisely such a volume, which sets the record straight on a number of confusing issues (like the origins of the double-kidney grille) as it increases our fascination with the brand and the automobile.

David Lightfoot's BMW Z4: Design, Development and Production accomplishes much the same thing, though for a single model rather than a company or epoch. A must-have volume for Z4 owners and enthusiasts, Lightfoot's 140-page book details the Z4's creation from the moment the BMW board decided to build a successor to the Z3 to the delivery of the first Z4s to their new owners.

Through interviews with nearly everyone involved in Z4 design, development and production, Lightoot reveals the myriad decisions that were made with regard to how the car would look and perform. Drawings from every stage of the design's evolution show us how the car went from sketch to CAD drawing to clay model to production car, while behind-the-scenes photos show how the Z4's technical elements were ironed out at the FIZ, BMW's engineering center. More photos taken at the assembly plant in Spartanburg, SC show the finished product coming to life.

As a chronicle of the Z4's conception, the book is indispensible. It's equally so, we might add, for anyone with an interest in how a new BMW goes from idea to reality, a process that's as fascinating as the car itself."

Review of BMW Z4: Design, Development and Production from Bimmer - December 2004