1925 BMW 494cc R32
Frame no. 3588
Engine no. 3329
Following the collapse of its aero engine business after WWI, BMW turned to other areas of manufacture, motorcycles among them. BMW's first model, a two-stroke ultra-lightweight marketed as the Flink, was a failure but its next venture was more successful. BMW's General Director Franz Josef Popp had asked designer Martin Stolle to come up with a proprietary power unit and the result was the M2B15, a engine that would be supplied to other manufacturers, such as Victoria, as well as being used to power the BMW-made Helios. Victoria having switched to another supplier, BMW's Chief Designer Max Friz set about producing a motorcycle superior to the Helios and one that would be worthy of carrying the BMW name. Warming to the task of designing motorcycles, a mode of transport he hitherto had despised, Friz and his colleagues Rudolf Schleicher and Franz Bieber drew up the R32, the first really outstanding motorcycle design to emerge after WWI.
Launched at the Paris Show in 1923 and the first motorcycle to be sold as a BMW, the R32 featured a 494cc, twin-cylinder, sidevalve engine having horizontally opposed cylinders, and this 'flat twin' layout would forever be associated with the marque. As used in the Helios and supplied to other manufacturers, BMW's M2B15 engine was a 'flat twin' also but one designed for installation fore-and-aft, a layout that made for a lengthy wheelbase and restricted the flow of cooling air to the rear cylinder. Turning the engine across the frame, as seen in the Granville Bradshaw-designed ABC, seemed like a much better arrangement. With the crankshaft now inline, the adoption of an integral gearbox and shaft drive was the logical choice. This new power unit went into a duplex loop frame equipped with leaf-sprung front fork. Weighing 270lb (123kg), the R32 had all of 8.5bhp on tap, which nevertheless was good for a top speed of around 60mph (97km/h),
Setting a pattern that endures to this day, BMW's first motorcycle was relatively expensive but superbly engineered and constructed while the quality of finish was of the highest order. It was an immediate success - some 1,500 leaving the Munich factory in 1924 - and the R32 would continue in production, updated with an internally expanding front brake, until 1926, by which time 3,090 had been built.
Information supplied by the BMW Group Archives states that this superb example of the company's historic first motorcycle consists of a frame from an R32 delivered to the dealer Creutz & Werner in Chemnitz, Germany on 3rd August 1925, while the engine formed part of another R32 delivered to the main dealer Telos in Berlin on 5th June 1936. After purchase some 30 years ago, this R32 was restored approximately 10 years later and since then has been kept within the owner's private collection of high quality vintage motorcycles in southern Germany. Recently re-commissioned and road tested, it is described by the vendor as in generally very good condition. There are no documents with this Lot.Hier präsentiert wird eine von insgesamt 3,090 zwischen 1924 und 1926 gebauten BMW R32 Maschine, dem ersten Modell, das unter dem Namen 'BMW' offeriert wurde. Der neu entworfene 494 ccm Boxermotor war gut für 8,5 PS und eine Spitzengeschwindigkeit von 97 km/h, bei einem Gewicht von ca. 123 kg. Der Rahmen der hier zur Versteigerung kommenden Maschine wurde am 3. August 1925 an die Firma Creutz & Werner in Chemnitz ausgeliefert, während der Motor, als Teil einer anderen R32, am 5. Juni 1926 an den Berliner Händler Telos ging. Nach dem Kauf von vor etwa 30 Jahren, wurde die BMW ca. 10 Jahre später restauriert und bildete ein Exemplar einer hochwertigen Privatsammlung in Süd-Deutschland. Kürzlich probegefahren und getestet, wird die R32 vom Verkäufer als in sehr gutem Allgemeinzustand beschrieben. Es existieren keine Fahrzeugpapiere zu diesem Los.
- The engine number is 33797. We have not been able to verify whether this is a matching frame and engine motorcycle.