Registado em: Mar 2009
On November 28th, Ernst Henne again breaks the land-speed record, this time raising it to 173 mph 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 BMW's first visit to the Isle of Man Senior TT. Again BMW's reputation for power and performance garners the attention of the German military which orders 15,000 340 cc R 35 singles (an update of the earlier R 4). The R 35 is the last single to use the pressed-steel "star" frame. It generates 14 bhp of power at 4,500 rpm and a top speed of 62 mph.
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 R 61. BMW introduces a total of six new models this year including the last single before the war, the R 23. Other models of note in this year were the R 51 which was popular with traffic police and the R 66, the most powerful twin yet offered to the public (597 cc, 30 bhp at 5,300 rpm). The R 71 is also introduced this year and is the last ever of BMW's side-valve engines.
The beginning of WWII finds BMW employing 27,000 workers. Many at the company have been turned to aircraft manufacture, developing the 14-cylinder 810 radial engine that is fitted into the Focke-Wolf 190 fighter plane. In fact, BMW's entire corporate strategy has turned toward military applications as have its competitors. But motorcycles still figure largely into BMW's reputation and this year Georg "Shorsch" Meier becomes the first foreigner on a foreign machine (a Kompressor) to win the Isle of Man Senior TT. British teammate Jock West brings BMW a second-place finish in the same event.
The aeroengine 801 goes into series production. By the end of the war over 30,000 units of this 14-cylinder aeroengine are manufactured. With a streamlined coupe based on the 328 BMW wins the overall evaluation of the Mille Miglia which takes place this year as a lap race with the starting and finishing lines in Brescia.
BMW's primary motorcycle contribution to the war effort was the specially designed R 75. Equally efficient on- and off-road, it would spur numerous imitations. 18,000 R 75s were made based on Alex Von Falkenhausen's design. With its overhead 750 cc engine it could achieve 26 bhp at 4,000 rpm and had a drive mechanism for the sidecar wheel as well as hydraulically assisted brakes. The extra braking being necessary to stop its 925 lb girth. With an extra large gas tank, two seats and a sidecar, the R 75 was used for reconnaissance, communication and attack (when mounted with a machine gun). It is also the "stereotypical" WWII motorcycle as seen in many movies on the subject.
Motorcycle production is moved to Eisenach.
The BMW jet engine 003 goes into series production.
Motorcycle production is halted in Eisenach.
Just 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 ignore it. Instead, BMW survives by manufacturing farm equipment, bicycles, utensils, pots and pans - supplies to help the now-impoverished German people.
The Eisenbach facility, which is surrendered to the Soviets, continues to carry out the production of Russian imitation twin motorcycles using BMW designs. These R 35s are branded EMW (Eisenbach Motoren Werke) and are marked with a logo similar to BMW's, 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.
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 R 24. 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 flow by making 22,000 bicycles in this year.
Using the R 23's running gear and powered by a modernized single cylinder, BMW officially begins motorcycle manufacture again with the R 24 - its first post war bike. Running on a 250 cc engine (the maximum size allowed by the supervising Control Commission), the R 24 is equipped with centrifugal ignition timing and ratchet-action pedal shifting for its 4-speed transmission. At the same time, BMW draws up the plans for its first foray into two-stroke motorcycles. It was a simpler design owing to the shortage of available materials at the time.
17,000 R 24s have been produced by this time and BMW is beginning to recover from the aftermath of WWII. It is in 1949 that BMW introduces the R 50/2 and R 51/2. These machines are criticized as the first evidence of compromise by the company. Referring back to Karl Popp's "only the best is good enough" philosophy, motorcycle enthusiasts are not pleased when they discover the rear main bearing had been moved into the crankcase instead of given its own housing. It now requires replacement every 10,000 miles. Adding to the disappointment, the centrifuge system's "thrower plates" are unable to handle the post-war, low-grade fuel, frequently clogging with unburnt particles and blocking oil flow.
BMW enters the new decade in top form. R 24 production is up to 17,000 units, and the new R 25 with plunging rear suspension is poised to replace the R 24. The R 23 has now become the most-produced motorcycle in BMW's history with an astonishing 47,700 machines having rolled off the factory floor. It is in this year, too, that BMW releases the R 51/2, its first twin (based on older designs) since the war. An updated version of the R 5, its 500 cc overhead-valve engine musters about the same power as its predecessor, achieving 24 bhp at 5,800 rpm.
The R 68, which comes to be known as the "100-mile racer," is the first German production bike to hit 100 mph. First presented at the International Bicycle and Motorcycle Exhibition, it signals the return of BMW to the list of top manufacturers. The R 68 generates 35 bhp at 7,000 rpm, the greatest power and highest revs yet. BMW also introduces the R 51/3 this year. It is the first of the newly designed post war machines and the first ever BMW engine without any chains in the motor. Other innovations include Dynamo electrical generation, which produces an astonishing 160 watts (60 being the average at the time) and a "tunnel-casting" crankcase which would continue to be used until 1969. BMW is operating at full capacity with production jumping from 9,450 to 17,100 in a single year.
BMW answers the market demand for a sidecar outfitted motorcycle with the R 67. It is BMW's first 600-cc overhead-valve twin and the first machine over 500-cc made since the war. Twin leading shoe front brakes are introduced on this model and the bike will remain unchanged until 1954. BMW motorcycle production continues to grow and is now at 25,000 total units per year.
Utilizing a swinging arm rear suspension system and pivot forks with sprung struts, BMW begins development of the Rennesport (RS) Series. Front forks are improved with the introduction of two-way damping and front fork gaiters. BMW also updates the R 25 single with the R 25/3, its most successful bike to date. Topping out at 73 mph, the R 25/3 goes on to sell 47,000 units during its production run largely due to the improvements in the carburetion and engine, yielding a very efficient 98 miles per gallon fuel consumption. While BMW has now sold its 100,000th motorcycle since the war, demand for the heavier bikes is waning.
A year after initial development, the RS Series, specialized for competitive racing, makes its production debut. BMW begins to establish a reputation in sidecar racing this year as Wilhelm Noll and Friz Cron win the World Sidecar Championship. BMW will go on to dominate the World Sidecar Championship every year from 1955 until 1974.
BMW, hampered by the high cost of automobile production, breaks its connection with the Eisenbach facility, which becomes the Automobilwerke Eisenbach. In motorcycle manufacture, the R 50 (26 bhp at 5,800 rpm) with full-swinging-arm rear suspension and leading-link front forks replaces the R 51/3. The bike is criticized for looking dated and, combined with a growing slump in motorcycle sales, BMW begins to face economic uncertainty. The R 26, acclaimed for its comfort and style, is also released this year introducing Earles-Type forks to the BMW motorcycle catalog.
New models released by BMW meet with meager sales. Only 3,500 R 60s are purchased and only 1,300 of its more powerful cousin, the R 69, are sold. Feeling the economic decline, German companies begin to downsize. BMW lays off 600 employees, shrinking motorcycle production from 23,531 in 1955 to 15,500 in '56. With warehouse surplus for the bigger machines growing and the oil shortage caused by the Suez Crisis compounding matters, BMW shifts its focus to fuel-efficient machines.
Things go from bad to worse this year. Total motorcycle production at BMW drops yet again - from 15,000 to 5,429 this time. Rival manufacturers like Adler, DKW and Horex all scrap motorcycle production in general. BMW pulls back from designing new models, focusing instead on shipping the majority of its machines overseas to the United States or to England.
The financial bubble finally bursts for BMW. With its money reserves depleted, talk of mergers and buyouts begin to circulate. Though production is up slightly to 7,156 machines, the future of BMW is uncertain at best. No new models are released this year or the next.
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