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BMW R12 Army '38

BMW  R12 Army '38 (1938)

Reference ch9224
Make BMW
Model R12 Army '38
Type moto
Construction year 1938
KM 03925
Cilinder displacement 745
Gears manual
Steering left hand drive
  • First registration on December 31, 1938
  • Very rare model, color and condition
  • War relic at its finest, with genuine war accessories


 The BMW R12 (or R17 for the sport version) was released in 1934 as the successor to the over-improved and similarly designed BMW R11 (or R16 for the sport version). The R12 was the bike of choice for the German military during World War II, which is why it remains hugely popular among vintage motorcycle enthusiasts and WWII militaria or memorabilia enthusiasts. The bike owes its success as mentioned, on the one hand, to its participation in the war but on the other hand, its advanced front suspension and performance in the cruellest war situations cannot be overlooked.

The Wehrmacht, which is the army of Nazi Germany, deliberately chose the R12. In the interwar period, almost a century ago, German automotive craftsmanship was already synonymous with quality and reliability. When the R12 was launched, BMW once again confirmed that reputation: the R12 could reach speeds of up to 110 km/h or 68 mph, there was a comfortable sidecar, and, not to be forgotten, it was the first motorcycle accommodated with a hydraulic telescopic fork, which is still used in today’s bikes. Initially, there was some scepticism because the rear wheel was not equipped with any shock absorption, and given the condition of war-torn roads many believed that was more than necessary. BMW disproved all criticism and pointed out that the suspension in the saddle, combined with the damping front fork, would absorb all shocks, and that was indeed the case: the bike is surprisingly comfortable, according to many.

Production of the R12 was permanently stopped in 1941 with the arrival of its successor, the BMW R75. A total of approximately 36,000 R12 models were built, but many were destroyed during or after the war. Additionally, not all R12 bikes were made for the Wehrmacht; wealthy civilians could also buy these motorcycles, albeit not in the Wehrmacht-typical camouflage colour Feldgrau.

Despite its camouflage colour, the R12 nowadays catches many people's attention. Over the decades, this motorcycle has become a real wartime relic that has secured a place in many museums. In combination with the fact that there is only a few of these motorcycles in good condition and few of them left in general, it is no wonder that this motorcycle is extremely high on the wish list of many collectors and enthusiasts.

Technical information:

Body work

  • Length (cm): 210 (83 inch)
  • Width (cm): 90 (35 inch)
  • Height (cm): 94 (37 inch)
  • Wheelbase (cm): 138 (54 inch)
  • Weight (kg): 310 (683 lbs)


  • Engine: 745 cc two-cylinder side valve engine
  • Valve gear: 4
  • Fuel system: 2 carburettors Amal 4/406/407
  • Gear box: 4-speed manual
  • Transmission: RWD
  • power: 18 hp (13 kW) at 3400 t/m
  • Top speed: 110 km/h (68 mph)
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