There are several terms of endearment for Munich's premier automaker, but where do they come from, and do they all mean the same thing?
What are Beemers? What are Bimmers? Is any BMW a Beamer? Did Bimmer come from BMW?
BMW is a famous automaker, and its influence on the automotive stage has been global. The German manufacturer has even made its presence felt in pop culture. There are numerous songs named after it, and one of them - B.M.W. by Global Dan - opens with a chant of the word 'Beemer' (or 'Beamer'). You'll likely have heard the pet name before or seen it written either as one of the aforementioned words or as 'Bimmer.' Like the story of the BMW logo, the history of the brand's nicknames is interesting.
Some enthusiasts will tell you that all three terms mean the same thing and refer to any BMW vehicle, from a cafe racer to an M4 CSL, but that's not strictly true. In fact, confusion over the correct BMW slang is so rife that the automaker wrote a short blog on the matter.
The origin of the term Beamer seems simple enough. When speaking in English, the syllables of the letters B, M, and W could phonetically be truncated as Beamer. However, this is not where the BMW nickname originated. Like so many other automotive stories, the legend of the BMW slang term was born in motorsport.
According to the automaker itself, Beamer comes from 20th-century Great Britain. At the time, a company called BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) competed on two-wheelers, with the nickname "Beezer" commonly associated with its motorcycles. Over the years, riders and fans came up with the nickname "Beemer" to refer to BMW motorcycles, and this term quickly gained worldwide popularity, particularly in English-speaking countries.
So is it Beemer or Beamer? Why is BMW called Beamer by some? Well, the former is the original way of referring to BMW motorcycles, while the latter is simply an alternative spelling.
Interestingly, there is no German nickname for the tri-letter name, as it rolls off the tongue more easily in the language, roughly pronounced as "beer, em, veer."
"Bimmer" is the other term often used to refer to a Munich-made automobile and rose to prominence in the 1970s, when BMWs were skyrocketing in popularity. American buyers initially referred to the German cars as Beamers, just like the motorbikes, with one notable exception - the Boston Chapter BMW club. The club's newsletter has been titled Bimmer since the Seventies. Incidentally, an identically titled magazine for BMW enthusiasts began hitting newsstands in the same era, and the term was ultimately embraced by the community, including in Germany.
So Bimmer or Beamer? Simply put, the meaning of Bimmer is a BMW car, while someone talking about Beemers is drawing your attention to the brand's motorcycles.
What is a Beamer car? This term (and that of Beamer truck) is an erratum, technically, based on the phonetics of Beemer. A BMW Beamer or a BMW Beemer with four wheels simply does not exist. Therefore, a "Bimmer car" is accurate, while a "Bimmer motorcycle" would be inaccurate.
So the next time you see the written word refer to a "black Beamer" or "old Beamers," you'll be reading the work of the misinformed.
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