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From digest.v6.n845 Thu Jul 3 15:30:51 1997
From: Dan Tackett <>
Date: Thu, 3 Jul 1997 10:37:04 -0700
Subject: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges

Do BMW's badges make sense any more? Is anyone else tired of the trunk-borne confusion on BMW's models? I'm sure I'm not alone in talking to people about BMWs all the time. One of their most common questions is "What do the model numbers mean?" Simple, I say, the first digit is the body series, the next two indicate the engine size. Yeah, right...

Look at the 1998 BMW model line-up:

318 ti etc.                             1.9 liter four
323i                                      2.5 liter six
328/528                                2.8 liter six
540/740                                4.4 liter V8
750/850                                5.4 liter V12

Notice anything? The 2.8 liter cars are the ONLY CURRENT BMWs with an accurate badge. Hey, BMW established its own rules, starting with the 520i introduced at the 1972 Olympics. It was followed, in that oh so Germanic way, by the 525i, 528i, and (in the US) the 530i. Simple, clean, logical. What happened?

They began to descend the slippery slope in 1978 with the 3210cc 733i. Oh well, that can be attributed to generous rounding up (even though it was called the 732i in Europe). Then it all went to Hell. The 3.2 liter (later 3.5 liter) turbocharged Seven was called a 745i ("Equivalent power to a 4.5 liter"). Then there was the 1.8 liter 320i ("We don't want to put a lower number on a popular model and confuse anybody"). My personal favorite is the 528e and 325e sharing the same 2.7 liter engine...not only were they imprecise but now they were inconsistent! For 1998, BMW perpetuates the perplexity with the 2.5 liter 323i soon appearing at a showroom near you.

This has to be BMW's Marketing guys run amok. Because the 4.4 liter V8 generates more torque but no more horsepower, they don't feel justified in calling it a 544i. OK, then why is a measly ONE horsepower increase in the 2.8 liter enough inflate the badge of the old 525/325? Why was it OK to put the 530i badge on a V8 E34 without creating confusion over the old E12 car of the same name, but they invented the 323 moniker to avoid recycling the number 325 again? I understand marketing and product positioning...that's what I do for a living. I understand that we're the lunatic fringe and mainstream BMW buyers don't care about model numbers. I know that BMW sold a record number of cars last year (and so far this year) with their wacky badge engineering. So they're probably right and I'm wrong. But that's OK, this is the BMW Digest. Besides, in Germany you'll notice that about half of the BMWs have unadorned trunk lids. They're as confused as I am, so I vote with our German brethren...


Dan Tackett
'95 ///M3 Individual
'91 NSX
'85 325 Euro (It's got a built 2.7 liter, so it's a 327i, dammit!) '69 Z/28 (Hmm...GM F-body, 5 liter it an F50)

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