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HISTORY OF AN ICON.

3 min reading time

The logo of BMW M.

The distinctive BMW M logo with the three stripes attached to the M is recognised by petrolheads worldwide. But who invented it? Here is the answer.

18 December 2023

Whether Nürburgring fan, motorsport enthusiast or sports car aficionado: anyone who sees the three BMW M colours knows that it's all about high performance.

What's interesting: The famous M with the three colour bars attached to it is not the first logo of BMW M GmbH, which was founded in 1972 and was called BMW M Motorsport until 1993. The original logo was round and featured staggered semicircles in the colours blue, purple and red with the BMW logo of the parent brand in the centre. It first appeared on the legendary BMW 3.0 CSL in 1973. According to Jochen Neerpasch, then Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW M GmbH and Head of Racing, the design of this first emblem came from the Swiss graphics agency Müller.

The first BMW M Logo.The first BMW M Logo.
The first Logo of BMW Motorsport GmbH 1972.

IT FIRST APPEARED ON THE M1.

BMW M1 bears the new Logo.BMW M1 bears the new Logo.
The BMW M1 was the first to bear the new logo at the rear.

A DESIGN STILL RELEVANT TODAY.

BMW 3.0 CSL on the race track.BMW 3.0 CSL on the race track.
The BMW 3.0 CSL in stripe design.

The striking stripe design first premiered in 1973, long before the finished logo, on the famous BMW 3.0 CSL. The final look of the racing cars was created by external graphic designer Pierre Mendell in collaboration with Manfred Rennen. To this day, the BMW M GmbH racing cars still bear these colours, which are adapted in terms of position, size and design.

But why exactly these colours, red, purple and blue? Marc Thiesbürger, automotive and racing historian at BMW Group Classic, says: "Blue stands for BMW, the red was probably inspired by the Texaco company and violet was chosen pragmatically as a mixed colour of blue and red."

The three colors of the BMW M logo.The three colors of the BMW M logo.
Today's BMW M colours.
Blue stands for the BMW brand, red for motorsport and purple for this unique connection

THE SPONSOR DIDN'T COME, THE RED REMAINED.

Design by Wolfgang Seehaus with Texaco logos.Design by Wolfgang Seehaus with Texaco logos.
Design drafts by Wolfgang Seehaus from 1972 with sponsor Texaco.

There is further evidence in favour of the Texaco theory: Seehaus' 1972 design drafts for the BMW 3.0 CSL bore the logo of the American oil company. Marc Thiesbürger: "Texaco's red was most likely incorporated into the BMW Motorsport colour scheme, although the sponsorship negotiations with Texaco broke down at the end of 1972 and the deal ultimately did not materialise." Texaco didn't come, the red remained. Interior designer Seehaus also saw an advantage in the selection of the three colours: they were clearly different from the black and white photos that were mostly used at the time. They are colours that also work without colour.

Evolution of the logo.Evolution of the logo.
Evolution of the BMW M communication logo.

THE FAMOUS M COMES FROM GIUGIARO.

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