BMW Marine GmbH was the marine engine division of BMW. BMW's interest in marine engines dates back to 1913; they started production of marine engines in 1919 after the First World War.
In the early 1970s, pickled versions of BMW's 2.0-liter 4-cylinder petrol engines were sold as Model 410 and 411. In 1977, BMW AG created a separate maritime division called BMW Marine GmbH. BMW Marine's head office and assembly plant was located in Verviers, Belgium.
BMW Marine continued to marinate the production of BMW car engines. BMW's 2.0-liter four-cylinder M10 engine became the B 130, while the M30 six-cylinder engines in 2.8 and 3.3 liters became the B 190 and B 220. Later, the larger 3.5-liter M30 with electronic ignition became the B 635. Model numbers referring to horse power.
To continue competing with Volvo Penta, BMW has added small diesel auxiliary sailing engines ranging from 7 to 50 horsepower to the BMW Marine product line. The engines were based on four air-cooled diesel engines manufactured by Hatz, then marinated by BMW Marine. Hurth Marine transmissions and dashboards were added, and the resulting marine systems were marketed as D 7, D 12, D 35 and D 50 engines. The engines were among the first on the market to offer balance shaft technology for smoother engine operation. Later, BMW Marine modified the two larger models to reduce corrosion caused by salt water cooling. The new models were renamed D 35-2 and D 50-2. Many of these auxiliary engines have been used in both racing and cruise sailboats from companies such as S2, Pearson, Jonmeri and Hans Christian. Custom yacht builders such as Lyman Morse in the US have also installed BMW Marine engines on their boats.
BMW Marine clearly needed a large diesel engine, especially in order to compete in the European powerboat market. The company purchased engines from VM Motori in Northern Italy. The VM HR.H 692 block forms the basis for the next series of BMW Marine engines. In most gasoline and diesel internal combustion engines, the crankshaft is bolted to the bottom of the crankcase. Vm Motori engines were unusual as they had the crankshaft inside the crankcase. This type of design, sometimes found in racing car engines, is called a tunnel hole block. It was also used in the Maybach MD870 diesel engine.
BMW Marine has designed and manufactured thousands of special marine parts for VM tunneling units. These turbocharged engines became the D 150 W and D 150 Z BMW Marine models with 136 hp. A turbocharged, intercooled D 190 with 165 hp was also available. Diesel engines D 150 and D190 were sold with either a Hurth 360 transmission for internal installation or BMW Z-Drive for sterndrive applications. The D190 was later redesigned and, with a modified Mark II Z-Drive, was marketed as a 180 hp BMW D 636 Z. This was followed by a five-cylinder 3.0-liter version of the 3.6-liter six as the BMW D 530. In England, Fairline and Plancraft were offering their products with BMW Power. In America, Ken Hopen's GlasPly plant in Washington state used BMW Z-drive gasoline and diesel engines in its product line.
Due to the downturn in the automotive market in 1987 and the lack of significant success in the recreational shipbuilding market, BMW decided to close the maritime division. The Belgium plant and assets were sold to Mercury Marine of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. BMW has also signed a parts distribution agreement with Mercury to ensure a continuous supply of parts to BMW Marine engine owners. Mercury continued production of BMW five- and six-cylinder diesel engines. The BMW D 530 and D 636 evolved into the Mercruiser 530 D-TA and 636 D-TA. Mercury later changed the designation to D183 and D219 TURBO AC. Mercury continued where BMW Marine left off with improvements to the VM-based engines. In the early 1990s, they offered a larger 4.2-liter diesel, dubbed the D254 Turbo AC. The designation "254" refers to the engine displacement in cubic inches. Since 2008, the Mercruiser D4.2L / 220 IDI six-cylinder diesel engine has been a variation of the original 3.6-liter engine. BMW Marine engine parts are still available from Mercury Marine and their Belgian subsidiary. Some of the original 200 original BMW Marine dealers around the world continue to service and sell parts.