I guess it all depends how you define the brand. For the purists, that are older than say 21, I think you all look towards the 2002, and some the e30 with admiration for what the vehicle is. However, if you look at sales figures, this is usually what defines the brand in terms of vehicle development and where the company aims in the future, it is definitely the e36. This was the start of an unprecedented stretch of award after award from journalists world wide. Sales increased. Performnace increased substantially. Luxury increased and so did sales. Prices remained flat for many years, and that was the start of all of the super dealerships you now see! That was reinvent era for BMW, it was either make it or break it. They made it and then some. To the purists, (myself included) they sold a bit of their soul to the devil, but that's who's buying bimmers these days. Status seekers, rather than purists. I must admit, BMW has made a tonne of moves that have irritated me in the years past but in the last two have done a few things really right. One was the 335is. What a machine. The other the 1M. Manual only, the way M's should be, all of them! I hope they keep up with this, and stop building all of the AWD crap their making now a days. I know it's a pipe dream but hey who am I to argue with success???
BMW 325I E30 Chumpcar Race Car
BMW 540iT M-Sport (New Family Hauler)
BMW 428i Maranello BMW company car