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BMW R-61 1938


BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG) began as an aircraft engine manufacturer in the early 20th century and through World War I. BMW's motorcycle history began in 1921, when the company commenced manufacturing engines for other companies. The first BMW motorcycle, R32, was introduced in 1923. The R32 became the foundation for all future boxer-powered BMW motorcycles; R61 with its four-stroke two cylinder flat twin 600 cc engine was one of them. It was a touring model, introduced together with three others: R51 (500 cc, sport model), R 66 (600cc, sport model) and R71 (750cc, touring model) R 61 maximum power was 18 HP, fuel consumption was approximately 3.5 litres per 100 km, and maximum speed was 115 kph or 71 mph (when with original sidecar, 100 kph or 62 mph). Four gears, two Amal M75/426 S carburettors. Initial price was 1420 RM. R61 was built from 1938 to 1941. 3747 of them were made in this time.

[img]„BMW in November 1939 presented the four sibling models (...) by a luxury sales´ brochure, comprehending main characteristics. The catalogue was somehow irreal in occurance regarding background of time. From August 1939 had started the rationing in Germany, where goods of daily consumption went under controled distribution. Motorcycles above of 500 cc were prohibited on private market, and smaller models needed special permission of private use, justified by relevance to public duty. The public market, this brochure adressed to, already had grown imaginary, and the print might have been meant as prestige advertising, keeping a position towards state/army customers...” from

Above: Wehrmacht soldier on R61