Registado em: Mar 2009
BMW... Desde os primórdios...
Welcome to the 1910s.
What would eventually become the Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) began as two separate companies. Gustav Otto's Flugzenmaschinenfabrik (Airplane Factory) in Munich merged with Karl Rapp's Flugwerke Deutschland on March 7, 1916 to become the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Airplane Works). Initially specializing in the design and manufacture of airplane engines, the company would manufacture for Germany's fledgling air force, including the Baron von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron.
On July 21, 1917, under the leadership of Karl Rapp and Max Friz, the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke is renamed the Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works). Their logo, representing an airplane propeller in the blue sky, would remain throughout the company's history. At 3,400 employees, BMW recruited Franz Joseph Popp from Daimler to become its managing director. The company's primary output was the V-12 airplane engine.
BMW, in the midst of an economic boom funded by the German air force, takes its 3,500 employees and goes public. Primarily focused on manufacturing for the Fokker DV II - arguably one of the best aircraft of the time - the future appears to be all blue skies for Rapp, Friz, Popp and company.
With 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 company's economic health. A sharp turn away from the six- and 12-cylinder airplane engines the company was making, Friz puts his aeroengineering knowledge to work, and within four weeks of being commissioned, has blueprints for what would become the famous "Boxer" engine.
Kurt Hanfland designs the "Kurier" engine, a tiny two-stroke, 148-cc 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 underpowered engine requires vigorous pedaling to start. The Flink flunks and is never sold under the BMW name.
Max Friz and Martin Stolle collaborate on the M2B15 - the first "flat 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 BMW sells off the assets of the original Otto Flugzenmaschinenfabrik which continues its own manufacture of Flottweg motorcycles. BMW will buy the works back in 1937.
Rudolf Schleicher develops the first light-alloy cylinder head. It proves to be one 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 BMW's heart is still in airplanes. Regardless, toward the end of this year, Max Friz pushes to improve on the "flat twin".
The R 32. It is Max Friz's reluctant (his heart is still in airplane engines) improvement on the earlier M2B15 engine designed with Martin Stolle that leads BMW to its first serious motorcycle. Using other design developments like Rudolph Schleicher's aluminum-alloy cylinders, Friz engineers a motorcycle with a 486-cc engine that at 8.5 bhp reaches a top speed of about 60 mph. Characterized by the transversely mounted M2B32 "flat twin" engine, a gearbox which forms a single unit with that engine and a driveshaft as opposed to a chain and sprocket drive, the R 32 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.
After only one year in the motorcycle business, BMW wins its first German racing championship, setting the groundwork for a history of trophy taking. Rudolph Schleicher is named chief designer, replacing Friz who returns to his first 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.
Schleicher's first original design, the R 37, is introduced this year. Very obviously a racing version of the R 32, it achieves a modest 11mph more than its predecessor but has twice the power (500 cc with 16 bhp @ 4000 rpm) 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. BMW's first single-cylinder bike, the R 39 makes its debut this year also. And while on the subject of speed, it should be noted that the R 32 is given a much-needed front brake this year as well.
3,000 R 32s have been sold by this time. Though more expensive than competitor models, the BMW name seems to warrant the expense in the public's eye. 1926 is a good year for racing, too, and Rudolph Schleicher wins the International Six Days Trial for BMW. It is Germany's first ever gold medal in the event. Perhaps 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.
Another excellent year in racing for BMW. Paul Koppen earns his first 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 R 47 selling 1,720 machines in 18 months. An extraordinary pace at the time. Cheaper than the R 23, the R 47 would replace it in production as well as replacing the R 37 and R 39.
BMW releases its first 750-cc motorcycle, the R 62. Designed as a touring machine (but with headlights costing extra!), the R 62 holds BMW's largest engine (the M5651). Reaching a top speed of 71mph, the R 62 is a gas-guzzler. BMW also begins to dabble more seriously in another industry that will prove successful 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.
Ernst Henne, riding a custom-built 750-cc BMW motorcycle clocks a land-speed world record of 134 mph. He will go on to best his own record six more times during the 1930s, earning BMW a reputation 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 shockwave across the world.
Though 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 198-cc R 2. The R 2 is the first motorcycle to use a one-piece "tunnel" crankcase. Marketed as a commuter bike, the R 2 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.
With the R2, BMW competes in the hotly contested market of tax-free 200cc motorcycles not requiring driving licenses.
Smaller 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 file bankruptcy. BMW is hit hard but manages to stay in business by developing more economy models like the R 4. Similar in principle to the R 2, it has a 398-cc single-cylinder overhead valve engine that can achieve 12 bhp of power at 3,500 rpm.
The R 4 continues to sell well attracting the attention of the growing Third Reich. BMW's 4,720 employees are commissioned by the German military to produce R 4s in the army's olive drab. Between 1932 and 1938 about 15,000 R 4s will be manufactured for military use. This arrangement helps BMW stay in business despite worldwide economic problems. So does the first automobile made entirely at a BMW facility - the 303 - which makes its first appearance this year as well.
The BMW radial engine 132, based on a development by Pratt and Whitney, comes into being in Munich. The aeroengine sector becomes independent and increasingly under the influence of party and military politics. Motorcycle and car production can still escape this influence at first.
BMW introduces the R 12, a motorcycle most notable as the first production model with hydraulically damped telescopic front forks. This advancement is a major leap forward in motorcycle manufacturing. At 745-cc the R 12 achieves 20 bhp at 3400 rpm but trades off on its power with its enormous weight of 408 lbs. Despite its bulk, the R 12 can reach a top speed of 75 mph. It is the most successful model in the interwar years, propelling BMW to 11,113 employees and 128 million reichmarks of business annually. This is the first year BMW produces more than 10,000 bikes in a single year.
Wiggerl 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 renowned Senior TT at the Isle of Man. It is a variation on Rudolph Schleicher's new R 5, itself considered by many to be the best bike of the 1930s. With the R 5, BMW returns to tubular frames and introduces rear-plunger suspension. Topping out at 87 mph, the R 7 is powered by a 500 cc twin camshaft-engine. Its styling defines a "classic beauty" that will last until the 1960s.
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