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Video 1932 3/20 AM 4
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Video 1929 3/15 DA 3
Video 1929 3/15 DA 2
Video 1923 R 32
Video Engine Data

          A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

BMW Museum 1


The famous high-altitude engine, practically the beginning of BMW history. The engine was initially associated with Max Friz, the 1917 changed from Daimler (still without Benz) to the Rapp Motorenwerke (BMW not yet) in the second half of World War I, apparently due to a trivial reason. In fact, he tried to demonstrate there a long time, what he can afford as an engineer, but you would not let him.

In his luggage Max Friz had more than the concept of a altitude flight engine, the fighter jets allow to ascend with much less power consumption and to reach previously unattained heights. This is for example especially important for fighters because you are not accessible to the enemy, but with tremendous speed can pounce on the other.

But the company name 'Rapp' did not have a good reputation, in particular in the military authorities. Friz received even the unpleasant task Rapp's six cylinder to redesign so that it finally works. Difficult times, because (for the first time) it threatened the downgrade to a repair shop for either Daimler or Benz. The company, however, was looking for a new beginning as 'Bayerische Motoren Werke'.

The new Managing Director Franz Josef Popp succeeded in the most difficult position to win the military nevertheless for the new engine. Due to the special additional carburetor he reached in great heights a much more favorable power to weight ratio, incidentally, a size that is more important for airplanes than for cars. BMW IIIa was its type code and it became a real favorite of fighter pilots, especially Ernst Udet, one of the most famous.

Why BMW still could not compete with Daimler at that time? Because the First World War (thank God) came to an end before BMW was able to supply enough engines. And afterwards Germany became forbidden to manufacture any aircraft by the victors. Nevertheless, the Bayerischen Motorenwerke (BMW) have grown enormously with a new factory and many new hires and have acquired a legendary reputation (for the first time).

A very short period of time remained until the complete enforcement of the ban. This the pilot Zeno Diemer used secretly, with the successor engine, the BMW IV (you see here), the absolute world record heights to bring hitherto never reached 9760 meters in 1919. Because without permission, the record was never recognized internationally...


Another great deed by Max Friz, to which he, however had to be pushed strictly speaking even twice. Because the engine was first and only later the matching motorcycle. Why? Because this too big factory for the bad years up to 1923 finally had to produce something and sell of course. Everything that had to do with the production of aircraft engines, had to be given away or destroyed.

What remained quantities of material, parts secretly placed aside and construction drawings and the expertise of the staff and the engineers. With the former and the latter, you could begin most. That in bad times trucks were asked, but then also motorbikes, is obvious.

One started timidly with the reproduction of the side-controlled two-cylinder flat-twin engine of an English Douglas and Max Friz, who actually described himself as a flight engines engineer, got assistance of Martin Stolle, a motorcycle enthusiast. That certainly could not be said of Friz. So first was a product that with the Victoria motorcycles from Nuremberg was a sale object.

It was the time when BMW had to keep the head above water with subcontracts for the Knorr-Bremse AG, because the production of the modest engine contingent was not enough. In addition Stolle left the company to reconstruct the engine after ohv principle at Victoria. It became very successful not only in race, but also became their product.

Now the company experienced very turbulent times. It was left to the pneumatic brake builders and took the rights to the name in a new company with old name. But the main problem was by no means solved, rather intensified. And Max Friz had to deal intensively with the bike for a second time. Again was added an engineer, but this time immediately from study. Rudolf Schleicher tried to conquer the racing world with the motorcycle built from Fitz with difficulties.

It was in fact the ancestor of all later BMW motorcycles, the R 32. You should allow yourself a moment and think about the fact that here a construction was introduced in 1922, with a few changes actually outlasted the century. In addition to the remodeling of ohv by Schleicher the introduction of the spring system was maybe the most striking feature of change of this machine. The engine was perhaps a (well done) reproduction, but the rest really innovative.


Of its quality, it managed to convince the potential buyer. But the group of people who could afford the most expensive German motorcycle was small, too small. Therefore, the attempt to expand the group of buyers with the R 39. A vertical cylinder of 250 cc made here 5 kW (6.5 HP), good for 100 km/h, and for the German championship in this class in the first year.


This is the BMW VI engine, which was installed inter alia into the Wal series of Dornier, Wikipedia calls it the most successful of the company. Record flights and even a trip around the world are carried out with this engine. Record flights and even a trip around the world have been carried out with this engine. It originates from the six-cylinder BMW V by a second row of cylinders but not in an offset pattern accessed via a corresponding conrod construction to the crankshaft.


Was recognized quite early at BMW that the water-cooled in-line engines can not compete, seen from power to weight ratio, with air-cooled radial engines or rotary engines in future. Therefore, efforts were made early to get a license by Pratt & Whitney (USA), to save development time and costs. The result was the BMW 132 powerplant.


The R63 was the first model with 750 cc. It made at 18 kW (25 hp) 120 km/h, making it one of the fastest motorcycles in series at this time.


Actually, it was rather the opposite. Therefore, this car was a success as a sedan, because it was quite successfully used directly at races, e.g. right away successful in the five-day International Alpine Rally asproduction model. There were other sports successes, inter alia also at the Nürburgring. BMW had extended its now-legendary reputation at the motorcycles successfully to the four wheels.

Don't let us fool, BMW has made debts for the purchase of the plant in Eisenach and tried nevertheless, at much lower quantities to keep pace with Opel as leader with regard to prices. It may be assumed that the cars sold, did not get back its production costs. Cross-subsidy by the again successful business with the aircraft engines could be the explanation ...


Actually, the Bayerischen Motorenwerke could have also advertised with the star of Daimler. But here one would not say (according to Gottlieb Daimler):

On land, on water and in the air
In the air, on the bike and in the car

What all did one not trying at BMW to get a car project. The construction possibilities were considered and again rejected. Even prototypes were built. After all, the way given would be a small car based on the motorcycle, but it turned out quite differently.

General Franz Josef Popp dreamed of two things at the same time and that very early in 1924. He saw the solution of the mobility of the masses, like many others in the automotive sector, in smaller cars and their simplification. The for such a 'Volkswagen' will prove also much later as almost insurmountable. In order to realize such a project nevertheless, Popp had a second dream merging at least the Southern German vehicle manufacturer.

The banks could have achieved it possibly. After all, there were already enough of them initiated mergers, to name with the Auto Union and Daimler-Benz only the most important. What remained was the small solution. After all, managed the construction of the Austin Seven, existing already a bit longer, their licensed production by the Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach and the again deteriorating conditions of 1928/29 that BMW was able to take this factory together with the licensed production and suddenly appeared as a (small) car manufacturer.

For some reason, no one seemed to classify the BMW as a small car, probably because it could show racing successes immediately, maybe owed its classification in one of the smallest possible displacement classes. Where it sometimes even has defeated higher classified vehicles. And if we now assume a continuous development of the quite simple built Seven, we come quickly to the car pictured above.

The text next to this car in the museum looks something smilingly to the supposedly low speed of 75 km/h and refers to the 'hurry', in which the parts are supposedly. One should keep in mind that so-called quick trucks have managed at most 60 km/h at the time. In contrast, the 75 km/h maximum speed are a good value.


This car represents the different body manufacturers of BMW, in this case the company Ihle in Bruchsal. There were three others, but this was probably the most important. No matter whether the frame was used or new, it was created a pretty convertible body.


This is the low frame of the BMW 303. Instead of a hitherto customary U-profile tubes were used who received even an elliptical-shaped cross-section in the larger direction of loading. It was called low frame because with it the body deeper was arranged and thus the center of gravity. This was achieved by a large momentum to the top of the rear axle. The leaf springs suspended at it were as high as front the frame itself.

The longitudinal tubes ran obliquely because front had to be more room for wheel angle. There was then only a transverse leaf spring, a design that had to be reinforced in a later series by additional wheel control elements. This was the big disadvantage of the 303, its driving behavior was a little too imprecise. By the way you can see in this frame, that here already welding has dominated over riveting, what also saved weight.


It was a remarkable model for BMW in many respects. E.g. in the engine room worked the first of a long series of six cylinders, the cylinders of course in series. It only had 1.2 liter displacement, but made from the small car something special. And this engine had many options of extension.


BMW pushed forward with the 303 in the (former) middle class. Still the three possible body variants were produced by Ambi Budd, later by Daimler-Benz. An important detail was the first occurrence of the "BMW-Niere" (kidney). It originated because one wanted to make the cooler a little more aerodynamic and therefore was divided into two and angled against each other. If the limitations of the internal surfaces will rounded at the corners, the famous BMW symbol creates oneself.

More information


This nine-cylinder radial engine (BMW 132) had 27 liter displacement and in the course of its development up to 735 kW (1000 HP). Four of them have driven a Focke-Wulf of Lufthansa in 1938. It was the first passenger aircraft in the world, the succeeded to fly directly across the Atlantic. This engine were also with direct fuel injection and he was (tentatively) further developed to the diesel engine.


Please have already a look at this remarkable car in many ways. See below to learn more about.


Pictured is the SV engine originally supplied to the Victoriawerke. M 2 B 15 it was called and is installed originally transversely, similar to the Harley two cylinders. However, at the boxer engine suffered even more the rear cylinder in the slipstream. So there was the 90° rotation as if by itself and thus also almost the cardan shaft drive especially as the BMW drove unsprung until nearly the beginning of the Second World War.

Since we are already in motor control, you can recount from the racing version, developed immediately after the appearance of this engine that this has hanging valves. However, Max Friz did just not succeeded in the first race in Stuttgart, close to his former employer, even just to arrive. The fame of the engine had to be postponed to a later date, but that succeeded really well. Friz was rather the designer than the racer. That first took over Rudolf Schleicher and later others of which will be to report.


Art Deco was called the indicated style of this prototype motorcycle. The R 32 was located on the upper price limit in Germany and there one also had to reckon with other standards than only with technical. That may have been the starting point for the well-done R7 (Figure).

Worth a look: click twice to enlarge the image.

The design was ahead of its time, almost comparable with the present, would not be there sheet metal instead of plastic for covering important technology. The museum text draws particular attention to the handlebars the nearly completely covered the bowden cables. Perhaps even more fascinating are the smooth shape of the cylinder crankcase and the wonderfully curved line of the silencer.
Practically unsaleable the motorcycle was, it would be too expensive for the most and too small the series, if it can only be afforded by the wealthy. 07/13

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Translator: Don Leslie - Email:

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