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BMW - Camillo Castiglioni (3)

Part 2

If you have already read something about Ferdinand Porsche, you will remember that he has worked at Austro-Daimler as chief constructor. Initially both men have understood well. The genius Porsche can be used in countless different fields. He constructed even for the Skoda companies, which cooperated in the procurement for the army with Austro-Daimler.

Porsche was indeed for Castiglioni what Ernst Heinkel was for the aircraft construction, but the respective ratios were not comparable. There was the Sascha, a swarm of Porsche, the idea of a small car maybe suitable for mass production of the Count Kolovraty, the Porsche realized as prototype. One can imagine how Castiglioni thought about such an idea, when he was chauffeured in the former imperial special wagon through the Alpine countries in that time.

They said from Porsche, his urge to be inventive would be priceless. Already the electric car at Lohner should have swallowed one million Kronen. Perhaps only the dictator Hitler was able, to focus a Ferdinand Porsche so on a design goal, that a Volkswagen was the result. Castigioni in any case had other goals and although it was said, he could motivate engineers, at Porsche he failed. Porsche said goodbye in dispute in 1923.

Incidentally, he followed Paul Daimler, the son of Gottlieb Daimler, and went to Daimler in Stuttgart. It is interesting that Paul Daimler already was his predecessor at Austro-Daimler. And perhaps add that Porsche also similar choleric left Daimler-Benz in Stuttgart 1928. The world of automotive technicians is small at that time.

Castiglioni's war profits therefore related not only to the delivered aircrafts. Also, the auto industry has contributed their mite with a correspondingly converted production of weapons. Now however it was like this, that at best the cost-effective products for transport of the company Puch were needed in the very difficult economic postwar period.

Maybe you could just explain with this situation Castiglioni's engagement at BMW. He had obviously a capable man available again, but this time as a director. Franz Josef Popp was on the right track with the help of the talented Max Friz. The really young company initially built the later famous boxer engine, inter alia also for Zündapp, and then complete machines (pictured above).

No, it would be presumptuous to claim that the motorcycles BMW would have brought out of the red. It was the again possible production of aircraft engines from 1923, and the then also possible exports. Very important was the enclosed license agreement for the manufacture of radial engines of Castiglioni and Popp with Pratt & Whitney in 1927, just in time before such contracts were impossible because of the incipient German rearmament.

Castigionis role at BMW was still ambivalent. On the one hand he did seemingly everything for a successful development of the company, was even considered as pusher for BMWs commitment at the beginning automobile production in 1928, on the other hand he has the option as a partial sole shareholder to pick out much capital out of the company, which partially slows down their development.

So he enforced enormous dividends for himself, was suspected to have sold ramshackle companies, owned by him, or whose shares to BMW and collected excessive fees when exporting aircraft engines. This should be also have been the case, as the company no longer belonged to him alone. Even his Chairman of the Board Popp was affected, later paid back wrongfully obtained money.

It was the time of the decline of Camillo Castiglioni. Too long he had placed on inflation and e.g. speculated against the franc. He who knew how to interpret the signs of the time always on time, mismanagednow in the red. Only the fact that he could now slip as an Italians with strong ties to the political leadership under the protection of Milan Banca Commerciale has prevented that Castiglioni actually should have gone into insolvency.

Despite or perhaps for this reason huge cash were needed from around 1924 because the sale e.g. of his art collection and much of his otherwise so magnificent property, despite the high value not brought the necessary financial injections. In Germany, becoming more and more nationalist, the Italians increasingly came under pressure as owner of BMW. So he had to give off majority and chairmanship to the Deutsche Bank in 1926.

The need for capital to the rescue was so great that Castiglioni had to lend on his remaining shares at the bank. His reputation was permanently damaged, when the new owner determined the partly already mentioned irregularities. Tax evasion was added as a reproach. Overall, he was finally removed from the company in 1929, with damage to reputation for him and also for his once-successful project launched after much effort.

Life took place for Castiglioni during the Second World War in Switzerland which he had to leave again soon. It ended in Rome in 1957, where he relatively modest lived with one of the two remaining daughters from his third marriage. His wife had now successfully started again her career in USA as an actress, is married again, but had apparently separated in relative agreement from Castiglioni. 06/13               Top of page               Index
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Translator: Don Leslie - Email:

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