100 Years of BMW

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<p>What would eventually become the Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) began as two separate companies. Gustav Ottos Flugzenmaschinenfabrik (Air Plane Factory) in Munich merged with Karl Rapps Flugwerke Deutschland on March 7th, 1916 to become the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Airplane Works). Initially specializing it the design and manufacture of airplane engines, the company would manufacture for Germanys edgling air force, including the Baron Von Richten, better known as the Red Baron.</p> <p>1 0</p> <p>1917On July 21st, 1917, under the leadership of Karl Rapp and Max Friz the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke renames itself Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works). Their logo, representing an airplane propeller in the blue sky, would remain throughout the companys history. At 3,400 employees, BMW recruited Franz Joseph Popp from Daimler to become its managing director. The companys primary output; the v12 airplane engine.</p> <p>1918BMW, in the midst of an economic boom funded by the German air force, takes its 3500 employees and goes public. Primarily focused on manufacturing for the Fokker DVII arguably one of the best aircraft of the time the future appears to be all blue skies for Rapp, Friz, Popp and company.</p> <p>1919With the Treaty of Versailles (signed June 28th) ending WWI, Germany is now forbidden to manufacture airplanes. Max Friz, the head designer for BMW at the time, reluctantly looks to motorcycle and automobile engines to sustain the companys economic health. A sharp turn away from the 6 and 12 cylinder airplane engines the company was making, Friz puts his aero-engineering knowledge to work and within four weeks of being commissioned has blueprints for what would become the infamous "boxer" engine.</p> <p>heritage/history</p> <p>www.bmwmotorcycles.com</p> <p>Only a few years before, Germany was a booming industrial power. But, in the aftermath of WWI, high inationary rates and a general lack of money for luxury items placed economic pressure on domestic manufacturers. Fortunately, motorcycles were seen as an important means of transportation (especially with so few cars available) and 80% of BMWs products went to business clients. Even in a tight economy BMW didnt skimp on parts or process. The years between 1923 and 1939 would be looked back upon historically as BMWs heyday.</p> <p>20</p> <p>1920Kurt Hanand designs the "Kurier" engine, a tiny 2stoke, 148cc motor. Eventually it is incorporated into a combination bicycle/motorcycle called the "Flink" (a word ironically meaning speedy which the Flink was not). The heavyish bike with its under-powered engine requires vigorous pedaling to start. The Flink unks and is never sold under the BMW name.</p> <p>1921Max Friz and Martin Stolle collaborate on the M2B15 the rst "at twin" or "boxer" engine. Based on the British Douglas design, it is manufactured by BMW but used in the motorcycles of other brands like Corona, Heller, Helios and Scheid. In this same year that BMW sells off the assets of the original Otto Flugzenmaschinenefabrik which continues its own manufacture of Flottweg motorcycles. BMW will buy the works back in 1937.</p> <p>1922Rudolf Schleicher develops the rst light-alloy cylinder head. It proves to be on of the essential improvements that leads to the second, and ultimately more successful, version of the boxer engine. Meanwhile the M2B15 is only moderately successful as a motorcycle engine. Some speculate this is because BMWs heart is still in airplanes. Regardless, toward the end of this year Max Friz pushes to improve on the at twin.</p> <p>heritage/history</p> <p>www.bmwmotorcycles.com</p> <p>1923The R32. It is Max Frizs reluctant (his heart is still in airplane engines) improvement on the earlier M2B15 engine designed with Martin Stolle that leads to BMW to its rst serious motorcycle. Using other design developments like Rudolph Schleichers aluminum-alloy cylinders, Friz engineers a motorcycle with a 486cc engine that at 8.5BHP reaches a top speed of about 60mph. Characterized by the transversely mounted M2B32 at twin engine, a gearbox which forms a single unit with that engine and a driveshaft as opposed to a chain and sprocket drive, the R32 becomes the foundation for all future machine designs until the introduction of the K Series in 1983. It would also whet the appetite for racing motorcycles that would come along in a few years.</p> <p>20</p> <p>1924After only one year in the motorcycle business, BMW wins its rst German racing championship, setting the groundwork for a history of trophy taking. Ruldolph Schleicher is named chief designer, replacing Friz who returns to his rst love, airplanes. Because he is a racer, Schleicher brings a passion to his designs. This passion would set the bar for excellence which BMW would continually strive to raise.</p> <p>1925Schelichers rst original design, the R37, is introduced this year. Very obviously a racing version of the R32, it achieves a modest 11mph more than its predecessor but has twice the power (500cc with16BHP @ 4000rpm) and humorously, no speedometer. The R37 goes on to win 100 races in Germany. But it is an expensive machine to manufacture and only 152 are ever made. BMWs rst single cylinder bike, the R39 makes its debut this year also. And while on the subject of speed, it should be noted that the R32 is given a muchneeded front brake this year as well.</p> <p>heritage/history</p> <p>www.bmwmotorcycles.com</p> <p>19263000 R32s have been sold by this time. Though more expensive than competitor models, the BMW name seems to warrant the expense in the publics eye. 1926 is a good year for racing too and Rudolph Schleicher wins the International Six Days Trial for BMW. It is Germanys rst ever gold medal in the event. Perhabhp out of jealousy, Grenville Bradshaw of England accuses BMW of copying the ABC engine. The claim cannot be backed up and is more or less ignored.</p> <p>20</p> <p>1927Another excellent year in racing for BMW. Paul Koppen earns his rst of two (and three consecutive for BMW) wins at the Targa Florio in Sicily. BMW has by this point manufactured 25,000 motorcycles with its newest model, the R47 selling 1720 machines in 18 months. An extraordi-</p> <p>nary pace at the time. Cheaper than the R23, the R47 would replace it in production as well as replacing the R37 and R39.</p> <p>1928BMW releases its rst 750cc motorcycle, the R62. Designed as a touring machine (but with headlights costing extra!) the R62 holds BMW's largest engine (the M5651). Reaching a top</p> <p>heritage/history</p> <p>www.bmwmotorcycles.com</p> <p>speed of 71mph, the R62 is a gas-guzzler. BMW also begins to dab9a106 eriously in another industry that will prov uccessful for the company in the coming years, automobiles. By purchasing (and renaming) the Dixi-Werke in Eisenbach for 2.2 million Reichsmarks, BMW officially entered the car-making business.</p> <p>20</p> <p>1929Ernst Henne, riding a custom-built 750cc BMW motorcyca10clocks a land-speed world record of 134mph. He will go on to best his own record 6 mo times during the 1930s, earning BMW a repu tation for speed as well as performance. By now BMW has grown from 2,630 to 3,860 employees in just one year and is manufacturing bikes using a pressed-steel "star" frame instead of the traditional tubular frame. Abroad, Wall Street crashes sending an economic shockwav across the world. -</p> <p>heritage/history</p> <p>www.bmwmotorcyca1s.com</p> <p>While Americas economic woes began to inuence the German economy, BMW continued its charge forward in the middle of its hey day years. The release of the next generation of twins, plus a foray into smaller, fuel-efficient models sustained BMW through lean years. By the decades end, with the rumblings of WWII growing louder, BMW had kicked into highgear, manufacturing heavily for the German war effort.</p> <p>30</p> <p>1930Though having made a name for itself in racing, BMW temporarily retires from competition to attend to business needs namely a national economic downturn. It manufactures its smallest bike, the 198cc R2. The R2 is the rst motorcycle to use a one-piece tunnel crankcase. Marketed as a commuter bike, the R2 is a very successful model for BMW. They go on to sell 15,207 of them. Much of the success lies in German transportation law, which imposes no road tax or special license requirements for small motorized vehicles.</p> <p>1932Smaller motorcycles continue to thrive in a questionable world economic environment. In fact it is so bad that the onslaught of the Great Depression forces 17,000 German companies to le bankruptcy. BMW is hit hard, but manages to stay in business by developing more economy models like the R4. Similar in principle to the R2, it has a 398cc singlecylinder overhead valve engine that can achieve 12BHP of power at 3500rpm.</p> <p>1933The R4 continues to sell well attracting the attention of the growing Third Reich. BMWs 4,720 employees are commissioned by the German military to produce R4s in the armys olive drab. Between 1932 and 1938 about 15,000 R4s will be manufactured for military use. This arrangement helped BMW stay in business despite worldwide economic problems. So does the rst automobile made entirely at a BMW facility the 303 which makes its rst appearance this year as well. heritage/history www.bmwmotorcycles.com</p> <p>1935BMW introduces the R12, a motorcycle most notable as the rst production model with hydraulically damped telescopic front forks. This advancement is a major leap forward in motorcycle manufacturing. At 745cc the R12 achieves 20 BHP at 3,400rpm but trades off on its power with its enormous weight of 408lbs. Despite its bulk, the R12 can reach a top speed of 75mph. It is the most successful model in the inter-war years, propelling BMW to 11,113 employees and 128million Reichmarks of business annually. This is the rst year BMW produces more than 10,000 bikes in a single year.</p> <p>30</p> <p>1936Wiggerl Kraus brings BMW back into racing full throttle by riding the supercharged Kompressor competitively. The Kompressor goes on to win numerous races for BMW and Germany including the renown Senior TT at the Isle of Man. It is a variation on Rudolph Schleichers new R5, itself considered by many to be the best bike of the 1930s. With the R5, BMW returns to tubular frames and introduce rearplunger suspension. Topping out at 87mph, the R7 is powered by a 500cc twin camshaft engine. Its styling denes a classic beauty that will last until the 1960s.</p> <p>1937On 11/28 Ernst Henne again breaks the land-speed record, this time raising it to 173mph and is named "The Fastest Man on Two Wheels." His record will stand for 14 more years. Also in racing, Englishmen Jock West rides a Kompressor at BMWs rst visit to the Isle of Man Senior TT. Again BMWs reputation for power and performance garners the attention of the German military which orders 15,000 340cc R35 singles (an update of the earlier R4). The R35 is the last single to use the pressed steel "star" frame. It generates 14BHP of power at 4500rpm and a top speed of 62mph.</p> <p>heritage/history</p> <p>www.bmwmotorcycles.com</p> <p>1938</p> <p>BMW delivers its 100,000th motorcycle from the production line. By now the company has introduced rear suspension on all production bikes beginning with the R61. BMW introduces a total of six new models this year including the last single before the war, the R23. Other models of note in this year were the R51 which was popular with traffic police and the R66, the most powerful twin yet offered to the public (597cc, 30BHP at 5300pr). The R71 is also introduced this year and is the last ever of BMW's side valve engines.</p> <p>30</p> <p>1939The beginning of WWII nds BMW employing 27,000 workers. Many at the company have been turned to aircraft manufacture, developing the 14 cylinder 810 radial engine that is tted into the Focke-Wolf 190 ghter plane. In fact, BMWs entire corporate strategy has turned toward military applications as have its competitors. But motorcycles still gure largely into BMW's reputation and this year Georg Shorsch Meier becomes the rst foreigner on a foreign machine (a Kompressor) to win the Isle of Man Senior TT. British teammate Jock West brings BMW a second place nish in the same event. -</p> <p>heritage/history</p> <p>www.bmwmotorcycles.com</p> <p>With WWII raging on, there was little new development in motorcycling at BMW. In fact, development would slow considerably until as late as 1952. BMW, like most German industrial companies, was focused on outtting the Wehrmacht (German army) in the early part of the decade. And after Germanys ultimate defeat BMW was faced with bombed out facilities and near dismantlement by the Allied powers.</p> <p>40</p> <p>1941BMW's primary motorcycle contribution to the war effort was the specially designed R75. Equally efficient on and off road it would spur numerous imitations. 18,000 R75s were made based on Alex Von Falkenhausens design. With its overhead 750cc engine it could achieve 26BHP at 4000rpm and had a drive mechanism for the sidecar wheel as well as hydraulically assisted breaks. The extra braking being necessary to stop its 925lb girth. With an extra large gas tank, two seats and a sidecar, the R75 was used for reconaissance, communication and attack (when mounted with a machine gun). It is also the stereotypical WWII motorcycle as seen in many movies on the subject.</p> <p>1945Just before the end of WWII, the German government ordered BMW director Kurt Dornarth to destroy the Munich production facilities. This order Dornarth promptly ignored. A year later, the occupying American military will make the same request. And again Dornarth will ignored it. Instead, BMW survives by manufacturing farm equipment, bicycles, utensils, pots and pans supplies to help the now impoverished German people.</p> <p>1946The Eisenach facility, which is surrendered to the Soviets, continues to carry out the production of Russian imitation twin motorcycles using BMW designs. These R35s are branded EMW (Eisenach Motoren Werke) and are marked with a logo similar to BMWs, but rendered in red and white. Forbidden by the Allies to manufacture their own motorcycles, BMW continues to stay in business by doing repair work on Allied military vehicles.</p> <p>heritage/history</p> <p>www.bmwmotorcycles.com</p> <p>1947</p> <p>With the restrictions banning the manufacture of motorcycles relaxed by the international Control Commission, BMW begins to draft blueprints for what will eventually become the R24. The designs are composed entirely from the spare parts left over from pre-war motorcycle manufacturing. Not ready to roll out its own motorcycle yet, BMW keeps an adequate cash ow by making 22,000 bicycles in this year.</p> <p>40</p> <p>1948Using the R23s running gear and powered by a modernized single cylinder, BMW officially begins motorcycle manufacture again with the R24 its rst post-war bike. Running on a 250cc engine (the maximum size allowed by the supervising Control Commission), the R24 is equipped with centrifugal ignition timing and ratchet-action pedal shifting for its four-speed transmission. At the same time, BMW draws up the plans f...</p>