Home History What Is A Beamer Car – Everything You Need To Know

What Is A Beamer Car – Everything You Need To Know

by Kelvin Yates

You have probably heard the terms “bimmer”, “beamer” and “beemer”. Have you ever asked yourself what is a beamer car? If this is the case, we got you covered because we are going to explain the history of this term and why and by whom it was used and is still used at the moment.

The terms “beamer” and “bimmer” are both slang terms that refer to a BMW, but they have slightly different origins.

The term “beamer” is believed to have originated in the United States in the 1960s. At that time, BMW motorcycles were becoming increasingly popular, and the term “beamer” was used to refer to them. As BMW cars also became more popular in the US, the term “beamer” was gradually adopted to refer to BMW cars as well.

The term “bimmer,” on the other hand, is believed to have originated in the 1970s in the US as a way to distinguish BMW cars from BMW motorcycles. The logic behind this was that “beamer” was already being used to refer to the motorcycles, so a new term was needed for the cars. “Bimmer” was coined as a shortened form of “BMW,” and it quickly caught on among BMW enthusiasts and owners.

Today, both “beamer” and “bimmer” are widely used slang terms for BMW cars, and they are often used interchangeably. However, some BMW enthusiasts may argue that “bimmer” is the more correct term, as it was originally coined specifically for BMW cars.

Cars often get slang nicknames by car fans who want to simplify the name of their car. So, for example, instead of someone calling his car BMW and spelling all of the letters. He just called it a beamer. And when one or two people are starting to use this term regularly it gets contagious and a lot of people will start to use it and basically rename the car from BMW into Beamer.

That’s how BMW got the beamer nickname and also a lot of other car manufacturers that have long names. For example, Mercedes is also known simply as Benz or Lamborghini that is also known simply as Lambo, etc. You get my point. But the beamer nickname origin is kind of special and we are going to elaborate that in this article in great detail. Personally, I’m a BMW fan and I love BMWs. So, it is a pleasure to tell this story.

In this article, we are going to cover the BMW origins and learn about their history in the car world and also their long lineage as a brand. Then we will learn more about the history of BMW in motorsports. Lastly, we are going to cover what is a beamer car and the origin of that name. So, let’s dive into it.

What Is BMW, And What Is A Beamer Car?

When it comes to cars, one of the first things that most of us learn as kids are the big three German automakers. BMW, Audi, and Mercedes.

These are the brands that every carmaker aims to follow and replicate some of their ingenuity. They are a huge leap forward when it comes to anything on the market. Excluding electric cars. But they are quickly catching up in that field as well and aim to become one of the biggest producers of electric vehicles as well. But have you asked yourself what does BMW means?

BMW is an abbreviation of the words “Bayerische Motoren Werke AG”, which means Bavarian Motor Works Company. That’s why instead of most of the people calling it like that, they chose to call it BMW. And I think that it sounds much better this way instead of using the long name.

BMW is a company that solely focuses on luxury vehicles. They also have some lower-end market models like the 2 series. But their goal is the top of the market where the competition is quite stiff and everything you do wrong can hurt your sales.

But that’s what they are doing for more than 50 years and they are pretty successful in doing it. Even though they exist as a company quite a lot longer than this. That’s why before we answer the question of what is a beamer car, let’s first discuss the history of BMW and how they became one of the best when it comes to building cars. Then we will look and learn more about the history of BMW in motorsports and learn more about their DTM and motorcycle lineage.

Brief History Of BMW

BMW or Bayerische Motoren Werke AG was formed 105 years ago in 1916. When the brand started the company focused mainly on aircraft piston engines.

Then it also started producing other products. Namely, motorcycles. They have introduced their first motorcycle was named the BMW R 32 back in 1923.

Then, a couple of years later in 1928, they have introduced the first automobile on the market. This automobile was an Austin Stevens 7 that was built under license.

After the war, BMW was barely surviving and it made its profit by selling bicycles, pots, and cooking hardware. And then they have introduced the BMW 501 luxury saloon back in 1951 and then in 1955, they have also introduced the BMW Isetta.

The Isetta was BMW’s take on the micro car segment and the Isetta became one of the most popular cars around with hundreds of thousands in sales. It quickly brought BMW into the spotlight. But soon another financial crisis hit BMW and the company was nearly taken over by Daimler. That is the company which owns Mercedes Benz.

Change Of Fortunes

In 1959 BMW saw a large investment in their automotive division by Herbert and Harald Quandt. And this large boost in the company saw the release of many new models. More specifically the BMW New Class compact sedans in 1962.

This new introduction has seen BMW investing largely into sports sedans. Then as the 70s hit, BMW has started to develop their series of cars.

The entry-level compact sedans included the 3 series. Then as a level up from the 3 series was the 5 series models. Then came the 6 series which focused on personal luxury vehicles. Also called luxury coupes. Last, was the 7 series which was the top-of-the-line luxury vehicle and was designed to be a competition to Mercedes S class.

This model nomenclature stands until this day and everyone knows which are the BMW they want. If you want a small sport sedan you go for the 3 series. If you want an experience that is a level above, then the 5 series will be the one for you. Or if you want the top of the line you go for the best and that is the 7 series.

During the years BMW has also started to own other brands as well. They have purchased Rolls Royce, Land Rover, and even Mini to get in the segments that they cannot with their own offering. And this worked brilliantly for them because they are selling the top-of-the-line Rolls Royce models that are a level above the 7 series.

But what is a beamer car? From where is the origin of this word? We are going to cover that a bit later. But first, let’s cover some of the most iconic BMWs that were released throughout the years.

The Models That Made BMW The Ultimate Driving Machine

In this chapter, we are going to cover the BMW models that made BMW into what it is today. All these models have brought some innovations and sold extremely well. These models boosted the BMW name onto the next level as the ultimate driving machine. So, which are these models. Let’s find out.

BMW Isetta

The BMW Isetta was BMW’s take on the microcar trend that was popular in post-war Europe in the ’50s. The Isetta was not a powerhouse but it was something that BMW was waiting for and that was to become popular in the market.

The Isetta put BMW on the map and many new car buyers wanted one for themselves. BMW Isetta was released in 1956 and was produced until 1962.

The Isetta was not a BMW model but was built under license by BMW. It incorporated a 300cc engine that made 13 horsepower which was plenty for the small vehicle. The BMW model was in fact much more powerful than other models that were built around the world from the Isetta.

Soon BMW had its own take on the Isetta and has evolved the model into the BMW 600. They improved and strengthened the chassis and made the 600 into a four-wheeler instead of a three-wheeler which was the Isetta.

The new enlarged Isetta or BMW 600 was able to accommodate more passengers and also it included a more powerful engine that was 600cc in size. Similarly, to the Fiat 500 and other popular microcars back in the day. The top speed of the BMW 600 was 64 mph. These models have not been imported into the US but still, you can import them as historical vehicles.

BMW 2002

Maybe the Isetta was the model that put BMW on the map. But the 02 series and the 2002 model were the ones that shaped BMW into the ultimate driver’s machine. And this series can be considered as the ancestor of the 3 series which later became the M3.

The 02 series entered production in 166 and was produced until 1977 with a total of 837,000 units sold globally was BMW’s best seller. The 02 series was a two-door coupe, it was also produced as a 2-door convertible and a 2-door hatchback as well.

What Is A Beamer Car

It was equipped with punchy engines for its lightweight of only 2,070 pounds. The 02 was equipped with 1.6, 1.8, and 2.0 engines that made the difference. There was also a high-performance turbo version of the M10 2.0 engine. And this car was the M3 before the M3 was invented.

This car named 2002 debuted in 1969. First, with the base engine and producing only 118hp and the 3-speed automatic. It was an instant hit in the US market and became one of the best sellers when it comes to sporty coupes.

In 1973 has debuted the most powerful version of the 2002. This was BMW’s first turbocharged car. The turbocharged 2002 made 168hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. And had a top speed of 211 kilometers per hour. Which is 131 mph in imperial. That at the time was faster than anything else on the roads.

The speed was aided by the extremely lightweight chassis combined with the sporty suspension. The 2002 was one of the BMW legends. But what is a beamer car? We are going to cover that a bit later when we will talk about the origin of the Beamer nickname.


The M635 CSi was the model that made all the front covers of many magazines during the 80s. This model was based on the 6 series which was a personal luxury vehicle. But with a little twist.

This model has included an extremely punchy engine and a lot of power under the hood. The model has included the M88 engine that was included in some of the BMW’s racing cars. Namely the 3.0 CSL racing cars.

This engine was producing 282hp and 251 lb. ft of torque which was insane for that time. Unfortunately, the US model used the S38 engine with a catalytic converter that generated less power than the original engine and the North American model produced only 256hp. But it was still a speed demon and the 6 series has become one of the 80’s icons.

The top speed of the M535CSi was rated to be 158mph which was insane at the time. This car is still regarded as collectible and good samples cost a ton of money.

BMW E30 M3

But BMW didn’t stop there with the development. They soon introduced the M3 model. But what is the M3?

The M3 was based on the E30 chassis and has been implemented a lot from the technology of the racing DTM version of the E30 3 series. This car was specifically created to satisfy the homologation needed to satisfy the DTM championship requirement.

What Is A Beamer Car

Everything on the chassis was improved and strengthened. The body implemented many aerodynamical elements like big flares, rear spoiler, and beefier wheels and tires. Including the engine. The S14 was a 4-cylinder engine created for performance. The head design was closely related to the S38 from the M635CSi and the engine block was derived from the M10 engine. And this was the winner combo.

The S14 made 197hp and the M3 top speed was more than 146mph. And one of the top-of-the-line M3 models was the M3 EVO that was released in 1989. Shortened for evolution, which bumped the numbers to a staggering 217hp.

BMW 8 Series E31

The 8 series is one of the last true legends that BMW made. The 8 series was built on the E31 chassis and was intended to be a personal luxury vehicle or a grand tourer as it’s known. Although many consider it as a successor to the E24 that was the 6 series that we covered before.

The new 8 series was intended to aim at a completely different market. It had a substantially higher price and also a lot of technology and comfort was packed in the new 8 series.

The car key design feature was the small nose and the never-ending hood with the pop-up headlights that made it quite recognizable on the road. This car also implemented a design that didn’t include a B pillar. This made the visual appearance of the 8 series extra appealing when all of the windows are completely rolled down.

This car accommodated quite a lot of engines. Starting from 4.0 V8 engines to the massive 5.7 S70 engine that was found in the top-of-the-line M8 model.

This car is considered by many as the BMW 90’s legend because every kid wanted to have one. Including me.

Then after the 90s BMW headed in a different direction and cut off the production of the 8 series and focused more on its saloon cars only to later introduce the 8 series again in 2018. Yes, but what is a beamer car? Why BMWs are called beamers? We will cover that a bit later, first taking a look at the BMW history in motorsports.

History Of BMW In Motorsports

The BMW history in motorsports is extremely rich, that’s why it got notoriety as the ultimate driving machine and many people regard BMWs as true driver’s cars. So, we closely move to the answer to the question of what is a beamer car. Since the answer lies in the motorsport lineage of BMW and from there, we can locate the origins of this nickname “beamer”.

BMW has participated in several motorsports out there are in one of these sports it got the nickname “beamer”. But in which sports BMW has participated? Let’s find out.

As we know BMW participated in F1 and has a long history in this sport. Unfortunately, BMW is not competing much anymore but still, they left a mark in history. Namely with their 1.5 turbocharged engine named the M12 which made more than 1,500hp and won a number of races. Then BMW left the sport but rejoined many years later where it collaborated with Williams and formed BMW Williams which was also a successful project. Unfortunately, they didn’t manage to win the F1 title, but they got several podiums under their belt.

BMW also is participating in other sports. Namely, the DTM series or the Deutsche Touren Wagen Masters in which they proudly participate since the inception of this sport until this day. This sport has created many legendary BMWs like the M3, M635CSi, and others as well. But what about the question of what is a beamer car? We will answer that in the next chapter where we will cover more about this name that BMW got.

Origin Of The Word “Beamer Car”

Now we came to the important bit and that is the Beamer nickname that BMW got and the answer to the question of what is a beamer car.

This question is connected with BMW’s participation in motorsports and that’s why we included it in this chapter. So, why is BMW a beamer car?

BMW got this nickname with its participation in the motorcycling sport. This nickname “Beamer” came from the UK where BMW motorcycles participated in the motorsport along with British manufacturers which motorcycles were called “Beezers”. That’s why they called them “Beamers” to easily distinguish them from one another.

BMW was extremely successful in the motorcycle game and won the race on the Isle of Man several times. 26 times to be more exact. And that tells a lot about BMW’s long racing lineage.

Should You Get A Beamer Car?

We answered the question what is a beamer car and now let’s focus on some different topics and that is the question of should you get a BMW today?

The answer is, Yes. You should definitely get a BMW if you are on the market for a sport sedan or a coupe. BMW has kept its focus on sporty vehicles and its primary goal is for the car to feel sporty.

It doesn’t matter if you are driving or a 318i or an M3. Almost every BMW has stiffer suspension than other cars and this is loved by many petrol heads around the world. BMWs connect you very well to the road.

Although there is big notoriety when it comes to BMW drivers that they do not know what is a turn signal or they drive like savages. Which is true to some point. Everything happens for a reason. There are a ton of drivers that are less aware and do not follow the rules on the road. And unfortunately, they happen to drive a BMW. But it is what it is. BMWs are still one of the coolest cars out there that you can buy.

In my opinion, the best cars to get from BMW are the older models. Models like the E46 which I consider to be an all-rounder. This chassis gets everything right. It’s not too old but not extremely new. It was built in times where technology and infotainment systems were not the priority. The E46 is a sheer driving experience as it was meant to be. That’s why I love it so much.

But still, there are other models that can be interesting like the E36, E38, and E60.

Conclusion – What Is A Beamer Car?

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the question of what is a beamer car? We learned more about BMW and its long history. Then we learned how the brand evolved into something that we car guys consider as the ultimate driving machine.

We covered all of the models that made the greatest impact in BMW’s history and launched the brand onto the next level and made it so popular.

Then we discussed the BMW participation in motorsports and the sports they were part of. Lastly, we answered the question of what is a beamer car and from where this nickname comes. We also gave you some hints on which BMW you should take a look at if you are on the market for a used BMW.

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