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BMW's model designation

Dr. Woo

Well-Known Member
Jan 3, 2005
2008 VW .:R32
Being the Audi nut I am, I am very familiar with Audi's designations for their platforms and chassis. For instance, my car's platform is B5, meaning the fifth generation of the second-size platform (B). They likewise have the C and D platforms, used in the A6 and A8, respectively. Further, we have the generations of the cars themselves, such as 8D (the B5 Audi A4). The B6-platform A4 was 8E, and so on.

So after that exhausting but sensical explanation, we now go to BMW.

The new 3er has the designation E90. The previous generation was E46, prior to that was E36, and before THAT was E30. The same confusing progression applies to the 5er. The current 5er is E60, preceded by E39, preceded by E34, preceded by E28.

Perhaps we should look at similar generations. In 1990, we had the E30 3er, the E34 5er, and the E32 7er. That makes a little more sense, but the progression of generations has brought only confusion.

So...why does BMW do this? What criteria do they use to come up with these designations?
I'd like to know too, Audi's is easy to follow, but I did some searches a while back about this to try and figure it out, but got nothing. Guess I'll have another to see if anything comes up. :)
All of BMW's chassis are the letter E followed by a number. Each car has its own number, and each new revision of the same model gets its own number as well. There are just a couple of exceptions to this (E36 Z3, because it used the same chassis as the E36 3er) that I'm aware of, but in general those are the rules. I'm not sure if their motorcycles use the same numbering scheme.

The reasons why the numbers are so high recently are because after years of just the 3,5 and 7 (with a 6 or 8 here and there), there's been the Z3(E35/7/8 ), Z4(E85), Z8(E52), X5(E53), X3(E83), and the 1er(E81). I don't know why some numbers are missing, but my guess is that those numbers were earlier designs which weren't used.
btw... what are Audi's?... I am not familiar with them at all, no one refers to them here, only BMW's and Mercs
andyhui01 said:
btw... what are Audi's?... I am not familiar with them at all, no one refers to them here, only BMW's and Mercs

link to model numbers with pictures for Audi

I was confused too, with the model numbers of bmw. But after a little search, my conclusion was, there is no logic. Seems I was right :D . About the Audi model#. I'm an Audi-enthousiast too, so I see them all the time, but I know there more commonly used when describing a BMW model(more people know them). And the numbers are more platform related, not model(ie B7 platform or A4 B7).

Greetz Johan
I was confused as well, it makes a little more sence now.

there seem to be alot of Audi Enthousiasts here. more then i've seen on other forums.

(freerider, your avatar is evil, I can't stop watching it.)
if they are like Porsche, the gap in numbering means there were a lot of factory prototypes/revisions that never made it to the public's eye. And if BMW is really like porsche, these prototypes were fully destroyed. :(
andyhui01 said:
btw... what are Audi's?... I am not familiar with them at all, no one refers to them here, only BMW's and Mercs
What are Audis? :blink:

The condensed version: Audi evolved from a company whose first automobile was built in 1901. They have always been involved in racing, from the 16-cylinder, 500 bhp Auto Union Type C racer in 1936, to the world's first AWD rally car, the infamous Group B 1981 Quattro, to the most successful Le Mans prototype of all time, the Audi R8. Audi became a subsidiary of the Volkswagen group in 1964, and is now recognized to be an equal entity to VW in the VAG empire, controlling SEAT and Lamborghini under the auspice of being the sportive half of VAG. (VW currently lords over ?koda, Bentley, and Bugatti as the "classic" brands)

The father of Audi, August Horch, is proudly caricatured in my avatar. 8)
Leppy said:
^^^ He was refering to the model numbers... not the brand itself.
Seriously? That's the entire first half of my first post...I didn't think he could possibly be asking a question answered in the first post.