Rediscovering the unique joy of driving is just one of many things to look forward to as life returns back to normal... but it’s not the first time that we have looked to the open road for escapism. For more than a hundred years, both British Vogue and BMW have been celebrating the perfect liberation that comes from being behind the wheel. Now, as partners on British Vogue’s Forces for Change initiative, these two iconic brands continue to shine a light on the joy of the drive over time.

BMW has championed the joy of driving since it was founded in 1916 – coincidentally, the same year as British Vogue’s first issue. In its inaugural year, it commented that “modern touring has almost made the world forget the meaning of distance and discomfort,” and in doing so, predicted a major increase in the number of female drivers that would be taking to the road in the years ahead. 

Within a matter of years, the magazine featured illustrations and photographs of well-heeled society dames and Roaring Twenties flappers getting into the driver’s seat, and published in-depth features on exploring the countryside by car. At the same time, BMW was producing its first ever car – the BMW 3/15. It was a ‘Dixi’ model and it arrived just in time for Europe’s growing love of hitting the open road.

BMW British Vogue quote


By the time the 1960s (and second-wave feminism) had descended on London, British Vogue even had its own automobile columnist in Lady Antonia Fraser. When reflecting on the latest generation of female drivers, who were embracing the spirit of the journey, she declared whimsically in 1965, “We are a company of enthusiasts, enjoying a series of special relationships with our cars, [which are] very much part of a women’s world.”

And once again, BMW was right in the thick of it. Its so-called bubble car, the Isetta, now an icon of modernist design, allowed drivers in the 1950s to zip around city streets and across the Alpine routes. By the ’70s, the first BMW 3 Series had arrived – a car designed to reflect the glamour and optimism that fuelled the decade. 

In this era where anything seemed possible, a road trip became an artistic expression in itself and a rogue-ish mark of celebrity. British Vogue captured some of these now infamous driving holidays throughout the decades, from Christian Dior’s motoring guide to France to Salvador Dalí’s favourite spots to zip between on a Spanish holiday to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s very extravagant trip to Geneva.


This fascination with road trips has never wavered over the decades. What has changed has been the form and technology, which in today’s world is steered increasingly by sustainability. This can be seen clearly in BMW’s developments, such as the launch of its first all-electric i3 in 2013. 

And there is no sign of slowing down, with the soon-to-be-released BMW i4 and 12 electric BMW models set to launch in the next three years. As makers of The Ultimate Driving Machine, BMW is committed to not only preserving the joy of the journey but also to evolving it, without compromising on either luxury or the welfare of the environment; an idea that has inspired British Vogue and BMW for over 100 years. 

So, start making plans – whether it’s for a reunion with much-missed family; a solo adventure through the countryside; or a laughter-filled getaway with all of your closest friends. The road is waiting.


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