€109k sale leads BMW bike auction

Prior to his death in 2008, William Neutken assembled the greatest collection of BMW motorcycles in the world.

His collection included almost every type of bike made by BMW since 1923, and won him a place in the Guinness Book of Records for having the largest bike collection by a single manufacturer.

Today, his name remains legendary among BMW fans. So it is no surprise that a number of lots sold for tens of thousands at Bonhams sale of his collection, last Saturday (November 28).

The star lot dated back to the early days of the German manufacturer's bikes, the 1924 BMW 493cc R32, made following the collapse of its aero engine business after World War One.

It was the first motorcycle to be sold as a BMW, featuring a 493cc, twin-cylinder, side valve engine with horizontally opposed cylinders and a 'flat twin' layout, forever to be associated with the marque.

The R32 left the auction block for at a staggering €109,250.

The 1924 BMW 493cc R32 - the
The 1924 BMW 493cc R32 sold for €109,250

Second highest in terms of value was a 1928 736cc R63, one of BMW's first 750cc models following rapid engine developments throughout the 1920s. It sold for €67,850.

The R63 was a spirited performed both on the road and on the racetrack. Although a relatively modest 75mph was the stock R63's maximum speed, a modified R63 won BMW its first motorcycle land speed record - 133.8mph, ridden by Ernst Henne - in 1929.

Bringing the third highest value was the c.1931 735cc R16, made shortly after BMW ventured into car manufacturing. This was evidenced by a new innovation on the R16: for the first time, the flat-twin engine was installed within a pressed-steel frame.

Thanks to BMW's reputation for vibration-free, smooth and refined performance, the R16 was regarded as one of the finest capacity sports motorbikes of its day. It sold at Bonhams for €57,500.

Bringing €32,200 was the 1929 745cc R62. It sports a fashionable "saddle" fuel tank which, having replaced BMW's distinctive wedge-shaped tank, cemented this bike's icon status.

Two lots each brought €27,600: the 1930 735cc R11 and the 1936 745cc R17. The R11 also debuted around the time BMW expanded into producing cars.

BMW's vibration-free engine - already a byword for smoothness and refinement - and the R11's three-speed shaft-drive transmission made it one of the finest touring motorcycles of its day.

The R17 was a follow-up to the R11 - virtually unchanged from its R11 and R16 predecessors apart from a strengthened crankshaft.

With a sporting, twin-carburettor, overhead-valve producing 33bhp at 5,000 rpm, the R17 was BMW's most powerful production roadster until the introduction of the R68 in 1952. Priced at 2,040 Reichsmarks, it was then the most expensive German motorcycle.

"Not only is it one of the most prestigious collections of BMW motorcycles in the world, but it is also taking place at a world class museum, The BMW Museum in Munich," said Bonham's Ben Walker prior to the sale.

Following Bonhams' successful sale, the BMW bikes from one of the most prestigious auto collections in the world should be looked after for many years to come.


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