1954 BMW Rennsport RS54 Sidecar
Chassis no. 254007
Engine no. 07
The BMW RS54 and its 'Works' variants managed their best solo World Championship status in 1956, making 2nd place with German champion Walter Zeller. When used as a sidecar racer though, the flat-twin, double-overhead-camshaft engine proved a perfect tool for the job, winning the World Sidecar Championships immediately in 1954, and carried winning 19 World titles in a nearly unbroken stretch of success, all the way to 1974. This remarkable string of achievement was testament to the BMW's excellent power and reliability, as well as the ultra-low center of gravity possible with its unique flat-twin engine.
English Norton racer Eric Oliver was the man to beat on three wheels in 1953, with four Sidecar World Championships to his credit, and he looked unbeatable again in 1954, racing a new, fully streamlined Norton outfit with ultra-low chassis, the first 'kneeler' sidecar racer. BMW responded with their own fully-streamlined racers, unique in using fuel injection to counteract carburetion problems with a sidecar's violent centrifugal forces around corners, which could result in fuel starvation. Oliver won the first 3 GP races of the '54 season (with passenger Lorenzo Dobelli), but a serious crash at the Solitude track outside Stuttgart left both men with a broken leg. While some credit Oliver's crash as having given BMW the opening they needed to win the Championship that year, in truth, continual development of their sidecar racers had created a racing outfit which would simply dominate the sport for two decades. Before Oliver crashed at Solitude, the duo of auto mechanic/rider Wilhelm Noll and telephone engineer/passenger Fritz Cron held a 4 second lead, evidence the BMW factory had truly 'dialed in' their racing outfit during the season.
The remainder of the 1954 season saw the Noll/Cron team take several more wins; in fact the pair were never 'off the podium' the whole season, and won the '54 World Title convincingly. The Noll/Cron duo won the Championship again in 1956; several other talented sidecar duos took multiple World Championships using BMW power, including Walter Schneider/Hans Strauss (1958-9), Max Deubel/Emil Horner (1961-2-3-4), Friz Scheidegger/Emil Horner (1965-6), and Klaus Enders/Ralf Engelhardt (1969-70-72-3-4). Clearly, a BMW Rennsport outfit was the 'one to have' if a racing team was serious about winning.
This RS54 and sidecar bear engine #549007 and chassis #254007. The crankshaft is a short-stroke version (75x72mm), and the cylinders are aluminum with iron liners, in which run 9.5:1 compression pistons. The valves are 40mm inlet and 36mm exhaust, fed by a Dell'Orto SS1 35mm carbs, via an electric fuel pump. A 2-disc clutch connects to a 5-speed gearbox.
According to Mr. Freidrich W. Staschel of Bremerhaven, Germany: 'This [BMW RS54] sidecar was raced in the 1960s by Bremen racer Claus Behte. After his death I eventually purchased the outfit and restored it. Since 1983 I have (with Theo Schick as passenger), raced this BMW outfit at many [German] national and international Vintage events.'
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