The BMW is dubbed the “Ultimate Driving Machine,” but it took years to earn that title. Of its fleet of vehicles, their M-series models are among its elite … and they just turned 40.

The first publicly-sold line was the car maker’s 1978 M1, but the their M division actually dates back to 1972 when it was initially created to facilitate BMW’s racing program with just eight employees. 40 years ago was when BMW M GmbH was launched; and to celebrate, BMW dropped off a slew of imagery celebrating the M-performance over the years.

Head over to AutoBlog.com to see more than 50 images distributed by BMW.