The Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York, will showcase an array of BMW automobiles and celebrate 90 Years of BMW Motorcycles from May 6 to November 3, 2013. The “BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine” exhibit will include road and race cars, both from pre-war to the modern era, but BMW’s two-wheeled heritage will also be a key part of the exhibition. “BMW’s motorcycle heritage dates back even farther than its automotive heritage,” stated Peter Nettesheim, renowned BMW motorcycle collector, curator of the motorcycle portion of the exhibit, and operator of the Nettesheim Museum in Huntington, New York. In 2013 the company celebrates 90 years of BMW motorcycles.
In the 1920s BMW quickly earned a reputation for speed and reliability. The use of an opposing-twin “boxer” engine and shaft drive, unique in those early days, remains in use today on many models of BMW motorcycles. The exhibit will feature three motorcycles from the 1920s including a 1925 R32, the first model, as well as a 1928 R63, with a 750cc engine and a 1929 R62 touring model which established BMW’s reputation for producing motorcycles ideally suited to long distance travel, a reputation that remains to this day. In 1929, BMW saw the first racing championships on two-wheels, a trend that continues to this day as well.
Also featured will be a 1931 R16 and a 1934 R11 with a stamped-steel frame. One highlight of the exhibition will be an unrestored military 1942 R12 found in a barn in France. A 1955 R25/3 featuring a very economical single-cylinder engine is an example of a model best suited for a recovering post WWII Germany. Throughout its history BMW motorcycles have gained a solid reputation for authority use, even here in the United States. A 1969 R60/2 German “Polizei” police motorcycle will represent an earlier example.
BMW Motorcycles have been widely known for their two-cylinder engines, a legacy which has continued. A later example can be seen in the R100RT on display. Innovation is just as much a hallmark for BMW Motorcycles as it is for BMW automobiles. In the 1980s BMW gained a reputation for the performance and smoothness of its 4-cylinder motorcycle engines. In 1989, BMW became the first manufacturer to offer ABS brakes on a motorcycle. In the same year, BMW also introduced the K1, it was the most aerodynamic motorcycle on the road, which will also be seen in the exhibit. That innovation can be seen today with BMW’s first-ever super bike, the S1000RR.
“This exhibition at the Saratoga Automotive Museum will provide visitors a great look at BMW’s long heritage and provide a sense of how the company has evolved to become the leading premium automobile and motorcycle manufacturer in the world,” said Ludwig Willisch – President and CEO of BMW of North America. “It will also show just how integral motorsports has been throughout the company’s history.”
“This exhibit looks to be one of the best we’ve ever had at the Museum,” said Museum Chairman Charlie Montano. “Working with BMW to create this one of a kind auto experience in upstate New York was thrilling,” continued Exhibit Committee Chair Alan Rosenblum. Exhibit Committee member Bob Bailey added “Both BMW of North America and our local dealer, Keeler Motor Car have contributed hours of time, effort and resources to make this a reality.”
The display of BMW automobiles will feature the marque’s most renowned prewar model, the BMW 328. The 328 dominated the racing scene in the late 1930s and early 1940s and will be shown both in road form as well as a custom-bodied 328MM, prepared for the Mille Miglia, one of the most vaunted endurance races of its day. The 1950s saw BMW produce such divergent models as the Isetta “bubble” car as well as the 507 Roadster, designed by Count Albrecht Goertz. The exhibition will include the spiritual successor to the 507, the BMW Z8 which arrived in 2000 – 45 years after the 507.
For many, the car that put BMW on the map in the US was the 2002, which received wide-spread media attention, including a review in the April 1968 edition of “Car and Driver” entitled “Turn Your Hymnal to 2002.” The higher-performance 2002tii, introduced in 1972, will be featured.
On March 21, 1975, just days after BMW of North America was founded as a subsidiary of BMW, a BMW 3.0 CSL won the 12 Hours of Sebring at the hands of Brian Redman, Sam Posey, Hans Stuck and Alan Moffat. A 3.0 CSL similar to that Sebring-winning car will be included. That car was fourth of four factory FIA Group 2 CSL cars built for 1973 German Touring Car Championship. Dieter Quester and Toine Hezemans won the European Sedan Championship with this car in 1973. It is thought to be the car that won the 24 Hrs of Spa (1973) with Quester and Hezemans driving. It was sold to John Buffam (US) in December 1973 and by Hurtig Team Libra in the 1974 season. The car is currently owned and made available to the museum by Scott Hughes.
BMW’s racing success continued in the 1970s with the BMW 320 Turbo with which driver David Hobbs scored four wins in 1977-78 in the IMSA GT series. It was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine capable of 600 horsepower. That engine was the test-bed for the 1,200 hp engine that powered Nelson Piquet to the Formula One World Championship in 1983. Many current BMW models are powered by the latest-generation of 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder engine that combines a unique blend of performance and efficiency.
Today, BMW M is widely recognized as the pinnacle of performance but in the 1980s, it was all new. One of the first M cars to arrive in the US was the 1988 M5. It was based on the second-generation BMW 5 Series Sedan and powered by 3.5-liter inline six similar to the engine used in the M1 super car.
The second generation BMW M5 stunned the racing world when the large four-door Sedan took to the track in the IMSA Super Car series… and won! A mate to the car that David Donohue drove to the 1994 Super Car Championship will be part of the exhibition.
The mid-1990s also saw the introduction of the second generation BMW M3, which will be featured. The BMW M3 took to the track in the US in 1995 and began an era of motorsports success that lasted for more than 15 years and spanned three generations of M3. In fact one of BMW M3 GTs, which competed in the American LeMans Series from 2009 – 2012, will also be on display.