BMW and EMW. Look for the differences

Auto Motor Klassiek » Engines » BMW and EMW. Look for the differences

The BMW R 35 was an odd man out when it came on sale in 1937. The year before, BMW had introduced the new tube frames for the R 5 and R 6, even for the 'cheap' R 20. Those machines were also equipped with hydraulically damped telescope front forks. But the R 35 still had the now-dated riveted plate frame and a still-damped telescopic fork. At the place of the alternator, with the R 20 already at the front crankshaft end, was again at the top left on the engine block. There was only a manual gear lever, while BMW had used foot gear since 1936.

Because of the war?

Because the threat of war was becoming increasingly apparent, BMW probably wanted to market a product that was as cheap as possible, durable and reliable. In any case, the R35 was also used during the Second World War. The R 35 was clearly developed as “Behördenmaschine”, as a 'service bicycle for officials. And aren't soldiers too? In terms of block, the R 35 was actually an R 4 with a smaller bore and with the cylinder head of the R 3.

Too old-fashioned for the war

Production of the R 1940 was stopped in 35, because the engine no longer met military requirements. After the war the factory in Eisenach was badly damaged, but a large part of the machinery was stored in various potassium salt mines in the area that were also used by the Nazis for the storage of looted art and so on. There were therefore also parts to make about 1.000 BMW R 35s. Adolf Hitler had ordered to blow up the factory in April 1945, but the Americans already invaded Eisenach on April 6, which threw a spanner in the works. The case was not blown up. . I.

The Russians became the boss

In July, Eisenach came to lie in the Soviet occupation zone. To prevent the factory from being dismantled, Marshal Georgi Schukow had a BMW 321 car. The Marshal was apparently impressed because he ordered five more to be produced. The Soviets also had experience with BMW motorcycles, because already in 1939 the Russian army had bought, dismantled and copied a set of BMW R 71 sidecar combinations via Swedish intermediaries. In 1941 the first BMW clones were presented as "M 72". The bastard BMWs are meanwhile already sought-after classics. But the production of the R35s went down well with the Soviets.


R35s from existing stocks

The management was instructed to build 220 R 35s from the residual files. The frames had to be arranged for that, but the rest of the parts were just there for the taking. When the test series was approved, the "Fahrzeug- und Maschinenfabrik Thüringen", as the factory was called at the time, was commissioned to take the R 35 back into production as a recovery payment to the Soviet Union.

The factory was expropriated

The Prime Minister of the Land of Thuringia expropriated the factory in September 1945, despite protests from BMW. The factory now fell under the Awtowelo company and from that moment was part of the Soviet planned economy. 1945 motorcycles still had to be built in 70, but they only became 16. The Soviet plan economy has never worked very well.

BMWs, but none real BMW's

The 'Soviet' production of the BMW cars and the R 35 continued until 1955. First complete with the blue and white BMW logo on the tank, in order to be able to fool the Western market. BMW wasn't really happy with that. After a court ruling, the East German BMWs became EMWs because the factory was renamed VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach, with the brand name EMW (Eisenacher Motorenwerk) for the motorcycle line.

Blue white became red white

The logo was subtly changed: what was blue turned red and the black border came with “Eisenacher Motorenwerk”. The type names of both cars and motorcycles did not change in the first instance. For example, the BMW R 35 was called "EMW R 35". And in the meantime, those EMWs are no longer true about classic enthusiasts. They are also recognized classics. But BMW R35s are worth more than EMW R35s. They are therefore regularly overrated. Pay attention to that when purchasing.

Growth and updates

The production numbers of the first years are not known, but the numbers increased between 1949 and 1955 from more than 4.000 to thick 13.500. In contrast to what was later used to products from the DDR and CCCP, the red and white BMWs were also modernized. In 1952, the R 35 got hydraulic shock absorption in the front fork and, moreover, the harmonica rubbers of the fork were replaced by steel tubes.

The name after the update became "R 35/2". In 1953 the machine was fitted with rear plunger suspension, a system that BMW had already introduced on heavier models from 1938. The frame was lengthened and strengthened, the crankcase ventilation changed, and the engine got foot shifting. And then we were at the R 35/3.


In (meanwhile) West Germany the R 35 got no successor after 1940 (only in 1948 did the 250cc R 24 appear). But actually the EMW R 35 / 2 and R 35 / 3 can be considered as such.


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