Top 10 Most Iconic BMW Models of All Time

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Top 10 Most Iconic BMW Models of All Time

As one of the most successful luxury automakers in the world, BMW has created numerous iconic models in its history.

The German automaker can proudly say many of its vehicles are some of the best of the best in the world, but what are the most iconic models to ever come out of BMW’s factory? The company has created some of the industry’s most significant sports cars during its 100-year history and as the company celebrates its centenary, AutoGuide.com decided to take a look at its most iconic models of all time.

SEE ALSO: BMW Z4 Production Quietly Comes to an End

10. BMW E39 M5

bmw-e39-m5

At the time of its introduction in 1986, the original BMW M5 was the fastest production sedan in the world. But it’s really the E39 M5 model that put the four-door sports sedan on the map, with many even considering it the most perfect M5 ever created. Powered by a 4.9-liter V8 engine, the E39 M5 produced 400 horsepower and 370 pound-feet of torque. And even though it weighed over 4,000 pounds, the M5’s performance rivaled exotics from Ferrari and Porsche at the time. Paired with a manual transmission, the E39 M5 offered an amazing combination of utility, performance and agile handling.


9. BMW E23 7 Series

bmw-e23-7-series

Today, the BMW 7 Series is the company’s flagship sedan and recent rumors that a 7 Series Coupe could be in the works has us excited for the future of the nameplate. And if you think the 7 Series just recently became high-tech and advanced, think again. In fact, the first BMW 7 Series was also considered upscale and sophisticated for its time and was the first BMW model to be fitted with service interval indicators and complex climate control systems. The original 7 Series was produced from 1977 to 1987 before it was replaced by the E32 7 Series.


8. BMW Z8

bmw-z8

The BMW Z4’s production ended recently, so what better way to pay respects to the company’s roadster than to recognize the iconic Z8? Produced from 1999 to 2003, the Z8 was actually designed by Henrik Fisker and used an all-aluminum chassis and body. Under the hood was a 4.9-liter V8 with 400 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque, just like the one used in the E39 M5. Its limited production has turned it into a collectible over the years.

ALSO SEE: Celebrate 100 Years of BMW with These Z8s


7. BMW 8 Series

bmw-8-series

Once serving as BMW’s flagship model, the BMW 8 Series was built from 1989 to 1999 and could be had with either a V8 or V12 engine. Some believe the recent rumors of a 7 Series Coupe is actually a revival of the 8 Series. In total, the German automaker sold 30,621 units of the 8 Series, with its pop-up headlights and sleek styling. And considering V12s are a dying breed regardless of automaker, those that have a BMW 8 Series truly cherish them.


6. BMW M1

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The first mass-produced, mid-engine BMW was the M1, hand-built between 1978 and 1981. If the design of the BMW M1 looks more Italian than German, there’s good reason. BMW was originally going to collaborate with Lamborghini on the model, but the Italian automaker’s imminent bankruptcy forced BMW to cancel its contract in 1978. The design was then tasked to Giugiaro and the Ital Design staff. Powered by a full race spec 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine that was detuned for street use, it provides 266 hp.


5. BMW Isetta

bmw-isetta

Wait a minute, how did the BMW Isetta end up here? That’s because the German automaker decided to make the microcar its own, shoving a 247-cc, one-cylinder, four-stroke motorcycle engine to generate a mere 13 hp. The company continued with the Isetta 250 and the Isetta 300 with the model living from 1956 to 1962. It might not be fast or sexy, but it is one of the most iconic BMWs of all time.


4. BMW 507

bmw-507

The BMW 507 was recently in the spotlight because the German automaker just finished restoring Elvis Presley’s old vehicle. But the roadster is truly iconic because of its rarity, with only 252 units ever built. Although it was intended to restore BMW’s sporty image, the 507 almost caused BMW to declare bankruptcy since it lost money on every 507 built. What makes it so important, however, is that the 507 went on to influence future BMW roadsters, including the Z3, Z4 and Z8 models.


3. BMW i8

bmw-i8

The BMW i8 is the most modern of all the vehicles on the list, but it’s hard to argue that it already isn’t one of the company’s most iconic models. From its portrayal in a Mission: Impossible movie to its futuristic bodylines, the BMW i8 is a current day vision into the company’s future. The plug-in hybrid helps prove that electrified cars need not be boring. Some even say they prefer driving the i8 over an M4!


2. BMW 2002 Turbo

bmw-2002-turbo

It’s hard to find a single BMW model that doesn’t have a turbocharged engine in its lineup, and that can all be traced back to the BMW 2002 turbo. As BMW’s first turbocharged production car, the 2002 turbo cranked out 170 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. This car is so important to BMW’s heritage that the company recently updated its 2002 Hommage concept. We can only hope that one day a model debuts with 2002-inspired styling.


1. BMW E30 M3

bmw-e30-m3

But the most iconic BMW model of all time is the E30 M3. As the first M3 ever, it arguably began the success of a single nameplate that very few automakers have been able to replicate. As the only car ever to have earned more titles than the Porsche 911 in various forms of motorsports, the BMW M3 has beyond synonymous with pure driving performance and it all traces back to the mid 1980s. It’s a shame now that the BMW M3 Coupe is referred to as the M4, as there’s just something so special with the M3 nameplate being associated with a two-door sports car.

Discuss this story on our BMW Forum

  • smartacus

    …and to think i drove my E30 M3 from Monterey all the way across the country back in the 90’s.

    My foot was to the floor in Nevada actually seeing the gas gauge tick down for over an hour.

    Oh how it clears the head. Never felt anything like it since. Naturally; i made it from sea to shining sea in 64 hours (that includes all food, fuel, sleep, tolls, speeding ticket, and tire blowout at 90MPH)

  • smartacus

    buddy of mine acquired his E39 M5 in the autumn of ’99 after trading up his E36 M3.
    effortless acceleration.
    6th-to-4th downshifts up to 120MPH was so easy.