BMW 328Enlarge Photo
BMW will be the featured marque of the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed, an event that will help the German automaker celebrate its centennial.
To mark the occasion, BMW says it will bring to Goodwood some of its most performance-oriented early cars: a 1957 BMW 507, the Mille Miglia-winning BMW 328 Touring Coupe from 1940, and a 1965 BMW 1800 TiSA.
The brand's motorcycle heritage will be represented by a 1966 BMW R50 S Kaczor, a 1976 BMW R90 S 76, and a 1929 WR 750 Kompressor.
2016 BMW M4 GTS
2016 BMW M4 GTSEnlarge Photo
Additionally, a 493-horsepower M4 GTS will make the event's famous hill climb before being parked in what's being dubbed "M Avenue," where BMW will show off a number of M cars from the last 40 years.
BMW was officially founded in 1916, although the company that eventually became Bavarian Motor Works actually dates to a few years prior. Initially an airplane engine builder, BMW expanded into motorcycles and then automobiles in subsequent years.
At first, BMW's cars were licensed copies of the British Austin 7, but the company began to modify that design for its own use in the late 1920s. By 1933, BMW was building cars of its own design that bore the automaker's signature "twin kidney" grille design.
Surviving World War II, during which it built airplanes for the Axis powers and saw its facilities bombed by the Allies, BMW weakly emerged as a West German automaker. Its initial post-war cars were well-engineered but expensive and thus out of touch with the needs of German buyers during the country's reconstruction.
It wasn't until half brothers Herbert and Harald Quandt boosted their shares in the company in 1960 that the automaker's fortunes appeared ready to turn around.
BMW 2002Enlarge Photo
At the 1961 Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW took the wraps off of its 1500 "New Class" sedan. The sophisticated but more efficient and less costly four-door sold fairly well in Germany, but it was the company's American importer, Max Hoffman, who suggested the vehicle that really rebooted the brand—the 2002.
A two-door version of the 1500 powered by an upsized 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, the 2002 was an immediate hit with both the motoring press and consumers. The 2002's basic design lasted until 1976 in the United States, and it inspired the 3-Series that continues to be BMW's best seller today.
The 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed will run June 23-26 on the grounds of Goodwood House in the United Kingdom. You'll be able to follow our coverage on the event over at our dedicated hub.