Ultimate Driving Museum Celebrates Centenary Of BMW Motorrad

Mobility Outlook Bureau
04 Jun 2023
09:00 AM
2 Min Read

The exhibit intends to highlight the world-leading technical innovations, racing victories, world records, and pure passion that has driven BMW’s motorcycle division to this day.

BMW CCA Foundation

Known for its production of luxury automobiles, motorcycles, and engines, the BMW Group is one of the world's leading manufacturers in the automotive industry. Producing premium vehicles across various segments, ranging from compact cars to high-performance sports cars and luxury sedans, the group also manufactures motorcycles under the brand - BMW Motorrad- recognised for their performance, innovation, and advanced technology.

BMW's official founding date is March 7, 1916, when an aircraft manufacturer called Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (formerly Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik) was established. In 1922, the company was renamed Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW). BMW's first product was the BMW IIIa, a straight-six aircraft engine. 

At the end of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles required BMW to stop producing aircraft engines. In order to stay in business, the company began manufacturing small industrial engines (along with farm equipment, household items, and railway brakes). The BMW M2B15 flat-twin petrol engine was introduced in 1920. Despite being designed as a portable industrial engine, the M2B15 was used by several motorcycle manufacturers, including the Victoria KR1 and the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFw) Helios motorcycles from 1920 to 1922.

BMW merged with Bayerische Flugzeugwerke in 1922, and the BFw Helios became the starting point for the first BMW motorcycle. In December 1922, BMW's Chief Designer Max Friz put the first full-scale BMW motorcycle on the drawing board. At its heart was a 494cc, 8.5 hp, air-cooled two-cylinder, four-stroke boxer engine. The first BMW motorcycle, the R 32, was unveiled in September 1923 at the German Motor Show in Berlin.

Production began the same month in an area of the BMW engine works on the edge of Munich’s Oberwiesenfeld airfield. Just 56 motorcycles were built in the first year. Nevertheless, those humble beginnings of BMW motorcycle production launched an unprecedented success story that has spanned a century.

Now, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of BMW Motorrad, ‘The Ultimate Driving Museum’ of the BMW CCA Foundation in Greer, SC, has announced an eight-month-long exhibit titled: “BMW Motorcycles: A Century of Innovation.” The Ultimate Driving Museum is produced by the BMW Car Club of America Foundation, an enthusiast-powered nonprofit working in partnership with its donors, corporate partners, and the 55,000-plus members of the BMW Car Club of America.

As a part of the celebration, over 57 rare and historically significant two- and four-wheeled motorcycle-powered vehicles are on display, taking the visitor on a historical tour from the very first 1927 BMW R 47 through the latest 2023 100 Years Edition motorcycles.

The exhibit intends to highlight the world-leading technical innovations, racing victories, world records, and pure passion that has driven BMW’s motorcycle division to this day. The BMW motorcycles on display at The Ultimate Driving Museum include a selection of pre-war singles and boxer twins, post-war street and racing machines, including the 1938 R 51 Super Sport raced by Tim Reid in the 1939 Isle of Man TT, the world championship-winning 1958 Fath Kneeler sidecar racer, and Reg Pridmore’s 1976 AMA Superbike championship-winning R 90 S, plus a world-travelling R 80 G/S and other assorted rarities from the 100 years of BMW Motorcycle history.

The BMW CCA Foundation operates the world's second-largest BMW museum and archives on seven acres adjacent to the BMW Performance Center in Greer, South Carolina. The Ultimate Driving Museum is located across the street from BMW Plant Spartanburg, the largest BMW Group production plant in the world, just down the road from the BMW Performance Driving School and US Rider Academy.

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