By Tony Lewin
Foreword by Tom Purves
Cover art by Jay Smith – Juicebox Designs
Publisher: Motorbooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group
Review by Glenn Oyoung
With a title like “The BMW Century” you know you’re in for a comprehensive history of all things BMW in this beautiful kaffee table book by Tony Lewin. A seasoned automotive writer and editor with stints at Automotive News Europe, Financial Times Automotive World, and other well-respected publications under his belt, Lewin embarks on an ambitious effort to document the first one hundred years of BMW’s storied history. No small task given the many legendary accomplishments BMW has achieved – from product design, to racing, to brand-building – throughout the decades.
Part history book, part art book, and part homage – “The BMW Century” is a real treat for any automotive enthusiast and particularly for those (like me) who consider themselves hardcore fans of the Bavarian roundel.
Lewin takes the reader back to the very beginning, when Gustav Otto founded BMW in March 2016 as an engine manufacturer for airplanes. Over the next 20 (2-0!) chapters Lewin covers BMW’s subsequent growth into motorcycles and cars through good times and bad, through war and peace.
There is something for everyone in this book. In addition to hundreds of gorgeous photographs covering every decade, Lewin’s analysis of key product lines like the Neu Klasse, 3-series, and M cars are bound to satisfy BWM aficionados’ thirst for more details behind the beloved brand. Corporate history buffs will love the account of how BMW was “saved” from the clutches of rival Mercedes-Benz in 1959 by the enigmatic Quandt brothers.
More recent developments such as BMW’s acquisition and subsequent revival of the Mini and Rolls Royce brands are also detailed. “The BMW Century” finishes up with a look ahead to the next 100 years and how BMW will position itself as “a potent force for progress, not preserving the status quo.”
Reading through the book, it was interesting to learn so many things about not only the products that we’ve all come to know and love, but also the DNA of this organization – built around innovation and performance. As a gearhead the chapters on the M cars, concept cars, and cars of the future beg to be read and re-read. If you are lucky enough to receive this book this holiday season, be prepared to have plenty of apple cider on hand – because you won’t put it down for quite some time.
– Glenn Oyoung