1953 BMW R68 590cc
Lot 44
1953 BMW 594cc R68 Engine no. 651066
Sold for £16,387 (US$ 27,276) inc. premium
Lot Details
1953 BMW 594cc R68
Engine no. 651066
When BMW commenced post-war production in December 1948 it was with the R24 single, and it would be another 12 months before a twin-cylinder model became available again. This was the R51/2 based, as its designation suggests, on the pre-war R51, which was a development of the R5 of 1936. Improvements incorporated into the R51/2 included two-way damped front forks, gearbox main-shaft damper and a strengthened frame.

Having concentrated on refining these essentially pre-war designs during the early post-WW2 years, BMW was ready with a new model for 1951. Designated R51/3, the newcomer boasted a totally redesigned, single-cam engine that went into the existing cycle parts. Also new for '51 was BMW's first 600cc model of the post-war era, the R67. Of relatively modest power output, the R67 was intended for sidecar pulling duty and was a far cry from the R66 super-sports roadster of pre-war days.

Although it was predominant in the 500cc category at home at this time, what BMW lacked was a big-bore sports model able to compete with the 650cc twins offered by British rivals in its chief export market, the USA. Styled like the factory's ISDT machines, the long awaited new sportster debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Cycle Show in October 1951. This was the 594cc R68, readily distinguishable by its restyled valve covers that hinted at the engine's enhanced specification. The latter included bigger valves, needle-roller rocker bearings, high-performance camshaft and larger carburettors, all of which contributed to a maximum power output of 35bhp, which was good enough for a top speed in excess of 100mph.

The show models' high-level exhausts were not carried over to the production R68, which featured low-level pipes equipped with 'fishtails', while for 1953 there were numerous revisions including full-width hubs, alloy wheels rims and cigar-shaped silencers. Replaced by the Earles-fork, swinging-arm framed R50/R69 in January 1955, these final telescopic-fork, plunger-framed models represent the end of an era for BMW motorcycles, of which the high-performance R68 is the ultimate expression.

An older restoration, this beautiful R68 is offered with German Fahrzeugbrief.

Saleroom notices

  • The frame number is 651066.
Auction information

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