Contrary to some opinions, BMW does not stand for Best Motors in the World company. Sure, BMW-branded automobiles are regarded as being some of the few engineering forms close to perfection, but the letters stand for something less boisterous and more good-natured: Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works.
The secret to their success does not lie in precise astrological predictions or mischievous and blatant employ of corporate espionage, but rather in a dedication to quality and constant pursuit of excellence. Unlike most of the auto manufacturers out there, BMW hasn't focused on a vehicle as a whole but started from its primary source of power, the engine, which has been perfected by generations of engineers over a close-to-a-century time span. The 'cardio-approach' BMW took resulted into obscenely efficient performance-happy engines that literally rocketed the company formed by Karl Friedrich Rapp in October 1913 straight to the sky.
Rapp's company, 'Rapp-Motorenwerke' - that would later become BMW - focused mainly on aircraft engines due to the large demand at the time, fueled by the imminence of Wold War I. Despite the need for aircraft engines, Rapp failed to sale his powerplants due to a reliability flaw caused by unwanted engine vibrations. However, his neighbor Gustav Otto, who was also the owner of an aircraft engine plant, enjoyed a great deal of success.
Struggles to keep 'Rapp-Motorwerke' afloat failed and, by 1916, Karl Rapp resigned under the weight of the financial difficulties that had been pressing against the factory's lungs for a few years. As in the case of other car brands, such as Bentley or Aston Martin, expected and highly predicable 'Hollywoodian' rescuers came along and fended off the threats. Austrian triumvirate formed by new company owners Franz-Josef Popp and financier Camillo Castiglioni relaunched the Motoren Werke by persuading Gustav Otto into a merger that would prove mutually beneficial. Thus, the 'Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke' or BFW was formed.