Let’s take a trip down a Bavarian memory lane and look back at the first car that launched the German powerhouse: the Dixi, back in 1928.
Dixi – the first BMW
A German company called Automobilwerk Eisenach began building a brand of cars called Dixi (which means ‘I Have Spoken’ in Latin) in around 1904. But the company found it difficult sell the larger models of their range, so they entered the small car market in 1927 and signed a licence agreement with the Austin Motor Company, based in Birmingham, to build their own version of the Austin 7. The deal was that Eisenach would pay Austin a royalty every time they produced a Dixi.
After being forced to cease aircraft engine production by the terms of the World War One armistice, Bavarian Motor Works (otherwise known as BMW) turned its attentions to motorcycle production and then cars and, in 1928, bought Eisenach. As part of the deal, BMW also bought the rights to build the Dixi.
The very first cars to roll off the BMW production line were even badged as BMW Dixi but it did not last long before the chiefs in Munich dropped it in favour of the BMW 3/15 in 1929.
A total of around 10,000 Dixis are said to have been produced between 1927 and 1929, while 20,000 BMW 3/15 were built from 1929 up to 1932. BMW added Bosch shock absorbers to the 3/15, moved the driver’s control to the left and introduced metric fasteners – these all being the main differences with the Austin 7.
Now, of course, BMW is one of the world’s best-selling luxury car brands, but its humble beginnings in the automotive industry can said to have been started with a bit of help from the city of Birmingham and the Austin 7.