BMW: The Mastery Of Speed
The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum celebrated eight decades of BMW sport bikes with “BMW: The Mastery of Speed” in 2005. This showcase of the German manufacturer’s sporting heritage featured seldom seen and historically significant machines on loan from the renowned Peter Nettesheim collection. The exhibit also included rare images and artifacts from Mr. Nettesheim as well as from Mobile Tradition, BMW's division devoted to preserving the company’s heritage. Together, these elements told the memorable stories behind BMW’s many technical innovations.
The official dedication of “BMW: The Mastery of Speed” included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, coinciding with the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America 33rd Annual International Rally, held in Lima, Ohio, which drew thousands of BMW enthusiasts to the area.
“BMW understood and mastered the art of performance motorcycle design long before many other manufacturers discovered that performance sells,” said Mark Mederski, executive director, Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. “This exhibit not only traces BMW’s sporting DNA back to its source, but gives visitors the chance to see how it evolved through some of the most significant machines ever engineered and produced by the company.”
The exhibit was created around Peter Nettesheim’s insightful and “consumer-friendly” approach to BMW motorcycle history. A master storyteller with a passion for uncovering little-known facts and stories about the motorcycles he collects and restores, Nettesheim and Mederski strategically selected vintage models that define each of BMW’s most important models, beginning with the 1920s—the period when BMW temporarily ceased aircraft engine production and transitioned to engineering ground transportation. “BMW: The Mastery of Speed” opened just as BMW unveiled the latest chapter in its sport-tuned model line, the 2005 K1200S the “naked” version, the K1200R, which was part of the exhibit.
Visitors enjoyed some exceptional early and rare BMW designs. Particularly significant was the oldest motorcycle on display, a 1927 BMW R47, one of 1,720 machines sold between 1927 and 1928. As early as 1921, BMW was producing powerplants like the two-cylinder 494cc flat twin in the R47, which launched the bike to a then-sizzling top speed of nearly 70 mph. Motorcycles from nearly every decade of the company’s history were on view, including the R5 (above), the road-going twin cam sport model based on BMW's consistent race winner, the R5SS (Super Sport). BMW offered a sport motorcycle in each of its eight decades and it is this sporting heritage that enabled them to accomplish their "Mastery of Speed."
In addition to these magnificent machines, the exhibit included an illustrative diorama of a BMW factory scene, as well as several technical displays that explored how designs not only contributed to BMW motorcycles’ performance cache, but also to the bikes’ reliability and safety. Advertising art from early brochures explained BMW's driveline and enthusiasts immediately recognized the familiar horizontally opposed twin, direct bolted transmission with a right side driveshaft to a bevel rear drive. Most BMWs use a similar shaft drive layout to this day. The exhibit also presented period photos of BMW’s innovators in pursuit of performance.