BMW is dusting off one of its older logos for select vehicles and a bevy of vintage colors to celebrate the M Division’s 50th anniversary. Those with a functional memory will recall that the brand streamlined its corporate iconography in 2020, making its already basic logo flatter and less colorful than ever before. It was a monumental achievement focused on helping the image come across better electronic screens that have been in existence since 1927, began supplanting printed office memos in the 1980s, and have evolved to support the kind of graphical clarity that now rivals your own eyes. The automaker also claimed the bare-bones logo stood for “openness and clarity” and would be used primarily for marketing and official communications — rather than occupying valuable hood real estate.
The new celebratory emblem — used during the 1970s and 80s on the occasional BMW Motorsport product — will be permitted to adorn the sheet metal, however. You simply have to purchase an M vehicle, ask for it to be adorned with the retro iconography, and then pay some extra money.
While the cynic in me wants to point out how absolutely pointless of an upgrade this is, it does make sense since it is quite probably the easiest option for BMW to install with the best return on investment. It’s also likely to have a healthy take rate, as fake M badging has become tragically common. But Car & Driver reported that the anniversary emblems won’t be handled the same on all markets.
In Germany, where drivers are more-prone toward removing badges to hide whether they pinched pennies or splurged on the performance model, you have to get the logos ordered special. In the United States, where it’s fairly common to see people slap performance badges on vehicles lacking the relevant hardware, the fancier roundel will come standard on high-strung M models (e.g. M4) and available as an option for lesser M Performance vehicles (e.g. M440i). However, you cannot get the badging on American M Sport models, which are all about appearance, though it’s been deemed just fine for their German counterparts.
There’s little reason to rack your brain over why. BMW never seems to have a full handle on its own legacy, often denying its obvious roots in aviation while apologizing for Nazi ties and usage of slave labor. So don’t expect global consistency on the resurrection of a defunct emblem. Just decide whether you like it or not before purchasing any performance-focused BMW next year. Order forms completed before January 2022 will result in cars defaulting to the current badge, with the changeover presumed to take place later in the month.
That will also be the point where the automaker launches “50 iconic and historically significant BMW M paint finishes” that will be much harder to remove with a screwdriver if you don’t like them. Hues range from Dakar Yellow to Macao Blue and are said to match colors from noteworthy models in the brand’s past. Assume you’ll be paying extra for the privilege. But don’t assume they’ll be available on every model or trim. BMW said colors will be limited to selected vehicles, with M-badged cars being the priority.
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