When Brazilian entrepreneur, João Carlos Ignaszewski began collecting and restoring BMW motorcycles back in the 1970s, little did he know that one day, he would build a collection worthy of housing in a museum — his own museum. The BMW Motorrad Museum of Curitiba, Brazil, was officially inaugurated in front of Henning Dornbusch, President of BMW Brazil, and Rolf Epp, Director of Motorrad Brazil.
The 7,400 sq.ft (700m2), museum has a collection of 40 restored BMW motorcycles, from the first BMW motorcycle manufactured, the R32, to the revolutionary C1, all in perfect working condition. The museum is considered one of the five best in the world in terms of the quantity and quality of its collection, which includes an R17 of which only 430 units were produced; an R75 with side-car, used in the Second World War; and an R68 sports model of the 1950s.
On the first floor of the museum, models from the 1920s to the end of the 1950s can be seen, while the models from the 1960s to the end of the 1990s are displayed on the ground floor. For João Carlos Ignaszewski, it was a very proud moment when the official opening of the museum took place.
“It was with great satisfaction that I managed to finish the restorations in time and that the President of BMW of Brazil Dr. Henning Dornbusch and Director of BMW Motorrad Rolf Epp came for the inauguration. Even I did not know that when I bought the first motorcycle in 1974 — the old R61 — that it would be the beginning of a collection that has since become this museum.”
In the years that followed this first purchase, João Carlos collected as many BMW motorcycles as he could find. Most were sourced in Brazil from German immigrants who had bought them to South America. Others were discovered in neighboring Uruguay, where many old cars and motorcycles from all over the world can be found. Brazil has a strong classic motorcycle scene, so two qualified mechanics were employed especially for the restoration work and some 36 years later, the fruits of their labor and João Carlos’ obsession for BMW bikes are there for all to see.
“My passion for BMW bikes comes from a very young age,” says Ignaszewski. “What fascinated me most was the drive shaft, and also the build quality that was recognized worldwide. It’s hard to say which are my favorite machines — the collection is like a family to me — but I have to admit that the 1937 R17 is very special, as there were only 432 of these made. Also, the 1923 R32 is a favorite, not just for being the first model, but also because it brings in its manufacture many interesting pieces.”