1939 BMW 597cc R66 Frame no. 512357 Engine no. 660763
Lot 114
1939 BMW 597cc R66
Registration no. FYR 531 (UK) Frame no. 512357 Engine no. 660763
Sold for € 18,975 (US$ 21,885) inc. premium

Lot Details
1939 BMW 597cc R66 Frame no. 512357 Engine no. 660763 1939 BMW 597cc R66 Frame no. 512357 Engine no. 660763
1939 BMW 597cc R66
Registration no. FYR 531 (UK)
Frame no. 512357
Engine no. 660763
Among four new models introduced in 1938 was the one that represents BMW's overhead-valve sports roadster in its ultimate, pre-war form – the R66. Intended as a sporting sidecar mount, the latter joined the existing ohv 500, now typed 'R51', but did not feature the smaller model's two chain-driven camshafts, using instead the single gear-driven camshaft of the sidevalve-engined twins. This new engine went into the updated cycle parts introduced at the same time, which featured a telescopic front fork and plunger rear suspension. Although the sprung frame resulted in the R66 weighing more than its un-sprung predecessors - 187kgs (412lbs) - the exemplary power output of 30bhp more than made up for the increase, endowing the bike with the top speed slightly in excess of 90mph. In total, 1,669 were made between 1938 and 1941.

This BMW R66 would have been one of the most expensive - and exclusive - motorcycles on offer in the UK market when it was first registered on 16th October 1939, just after the outbreak of war. The machine features factory fitted sidecar mounts on both sides of the frame and was delivered with an Akip side stand. 'FYR 531' was owned originally by Charles Lock, the 'L' of BMW importers MLG, the UK agents of that period. Photographs on file show Charles Lock on the R66 in 1941 and 1946, by which time it had been attached to a sidecar. The 1941 picture shows the bike as totally original, while in the 1946 picture various improvements made by Charles Lock are visible. These include a straight-pull twist grip; larger fuel tank with additional blue coachline; chromium-plated fork legs; foot pegs and rear plunger covers; twin-leading-shoe front brake; and a slightly later rear light. The immediately preceding owner, Terry Bradshaw, an experienced BMW collector and restorer, acquired the machine in August 2002 from Geoffrey Wallace, of Deriside, Abergavenny, who together with his father had owned it for approximately 40 years. 'FYR 531' had been off the road since 1965.

Mr Bradshaw then restored 'FYR 531' to its improved 1946 specification. The restoration entailed a total rebuild of the engine, gearbox and rear drive with all new bearings, seals, etc - the engine being fitted with new-old-stock pistons courtesy of Mark Huggett, and the crankshaft rebuilt by SEP in Kegworth. Most importantly, this R66 is still fitted with its original Fischer Amal carburettors. Completed towards the end of 2003, the machine has seen relatively little use since. A total of approximately 39,000 miles is currently displayed on the odometer, but as this is on its 'second lap', the actual total is circa 139,000.

Shortly after purchasing the machine, Mr Bradshaw had the good fortune to meet Charles Lock at the VMCC's Founders' Day Rally at Stamford Hall where Mr Lock confirmed its history, stating that he had wished to personalise the bike and make it something special. Also included in the accompanying file are pictures of the 1951 inaugural meeting of the UK BMW Club, 'FYR 531' being the tenth bike from the right. The R66 is pictured with its then owner, Gordon Lassetter, the photograph having been taken by Charles Lock himself. This picture is reproduced on the centre pages of the August 2001 BMW Club Journal (copy included). There are other pictures on file showing the R66 prior to its restoration.

Also contained within the file is the original owner's manual; old-style continuation logbook (issued 1959); various owner's notes made during the 1950s; assorted correspondence; and a quantity of old tax discs from which it can be deduced that the R66 remained attached to a sidecar until mid-1957. Included with the machine is the original petrol tank, lower fork shrouds and Akip side stand. Additional items include a seat extension and most of the original tools, together with tyre pump and steering lock.

The current vendor purchased the BMW at Bonhams' Stafford Sale in October 2008 (Lot 370) since when it has not been used. One of the most modern and capable of all pre-war roadsters, the rare and desirable R66 is offered with UK V5C document.

Die R66 war das ultimative BMW-Motorrad der Vorkriegsära. Mit einer Leistung von 30 PS erreichte sie eine Höchstgeschwindigkeit von nahezu 150 km/h. Zugelassen in England, im Oktober 1939, kurz nach Ausbruch des 2. Weltkriegs, auf Charles Lock, den Mitbesitzer des BMW-Importeurs 'MLG', wurde die Maschine mit Haltern für einen Seitenwagen auf beiden Seiten des Rahmens, sowie einem 'Akip' Seitenständer ausgeliefert. Es existieren Fotos aus den Jahren 1941, auf der Lock mit der R66 in originalem Zustand abgebildet ist, sowie Fotos aus 1946, die die Maschine mit einigen Modifikationen – u.a. mit grösserem Tank, verchromter Gabel, geänderter Vorderradbremse – zeigen. Der vorletzte Besitzer erwarb die Maschine 2002, von einem gewissen Terry Bradshaw, einem eingefleischten BMW-Fan und Restaurator. Bradshaw hatte die Maschine, zusammen mit seinem Vater, über 40 Jahre in seinem Besitz; allerdings war sie seit 1965 nicht mehr bewegt worden. Bradshaw restaurierte die Maschine in den 'verbesserten', 1946er Zustand unter Verwendung von Originalteilen, wobei insbesondere Original-Kolben und die Original-Fischer-Amal-Vergaser zu erwähnen sind. Die Restauration wurde im Jahr 2003 beendet, und die R66 ist seither wenig benutzt worden. Der Tachometerstand beträgt 39.000 Meilen, wobei davon auszugehen ist, das es sich um 139.000 Meilen (knapp 224.000 km) handelt.

Verschieden Fotos, die dem Los beiliegen, zeigen die Maschine u.a. bei der Gründung des Englischen 'UK BMW Club', 1951, mit dem seinerzeitigen Besitzer Gordon Lassetter. Zusätzlich existieren das Original-Handbuch (Betriebsanleitung), Englische Zulassungspapiere seit 1958, sowie diverse, weitere Unterlagen, die Luftpumpe, Lenkradschloss, sowie der überwiegende Teil des originalen Bordwerkzeugs.

Saleroom notices

  • The documents for this lot will be forwarded to the new owner after the sale.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

Like the vast majority of auctioneers Bonhams charge what is known as a Buyer's Premium. Buyer's Premium on all Automobilia lots will adhere to Bonhams group policy:

25% up to £50,000 of hammer price,
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 of hammer price,
and 12% on the balance thereafter. This applies to each lot purchased and is subject to VAT.

For Motor Cars and Motorcycles a 15% Buyer's Premium is payable on the first £50,000 of the final Hammer Price of each Lot, and 12% on any amount by which the Hammer Price exceeds £50,000. VAT at the standard rate is payable on the Premium by all Buyers, unless otherwise stated.

Some lots may be subject to VAT on the Hammer Price. These lots will be clearly marked with the relevant symbol printed beside the lot number in the catalogue.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Similar Items