1973 BMW R75/5 TOASTER
THIS BIKE'S STORY
-By Tim Parker
Robert Grunow – whose occupation is described as a manager on the invoice - of Somerville, New Jersey purchased this R75/5 on June 12, 1973 from Slegers Forbes, The CycleLogical Dealer! of Whippany, New Jersey – then a BMW, BSA, Triumph, Rickman-Metisse, Bultaco and Yamaha dealer. Robert was 35 years old. Freight at five percent was removed from his invoice, which with tax and license ($6) totaled $2,344.35. He rode a lot and kept it well, its condition to today can be described as excellent, its patina simply “to die for.” To be sold with the bike is are the tools, paperwork and owner’s manual including a sheet from Butler & Smith, BMW motorcycle importer, headed BMW Washing Instructions the last paragraph of which reads, “Failure to follow this procedure is neglect, and any part or parts damaged as a result of neglect are not covered by warranty.” Robert did not neglect this bike!
The R-slash-5 BMW series was built around three engine capacities, a 500, a 600 and a 750. BMW’s Spandau factory – located in a western suburb of Berlin – was remodeled for motorcycle manufacture to allow BMW’s Munich factory to focus on car production.
It first produced the 600 starting in September, followed by the 750 in October and the 500 in November, 1969.
By April 1973 the 500 and 600 production ended leaving the 750 to finish in August the same year with the launch of the slash-6 series. The most prolific of the /5s was the 750 with some 38,370 units. (500 and 600 models combined reached just over 30,000.)
1973 BMW R75/5 DETAILS
- 37,393 miles
- VIN 2998152
- “Beloved” because Robert Grunow is the original and only owner, and he kept a maintenance log for all its 37,393 miles.
- Air-cooled round-head, boxer twin, 82mm bore x 71mm stroke for 745cc, quoted 50 horsepower @ 6,200rpm, 4-speed. Dry clutch.
- The bike is “ as new, all original“ except for the mufflers, which were replaced on 4/15/84 at 21,500 miles, both sides, the log says.
- Color: US model metallic gold (defined as “curry” on the original invoice).
- Electric start
- Wire spoke rims
Hans-Gunther von der Marwitz was the driving force behind the “new” /5 motorcycles.
An experienced engineer having previously worked for Porsche and Kreidler, he was motorcycle road racer with a love for the “boy racer” AJS 7R and Manx Norton, both of which had telescopic forks and full cradle duplex frames. Make a mental note of that. Marwitz, charged with revitalizing the dropping sales of BMW motorcycles at a point in time when BMW’s car sales were about to take off, decided only a wholesale “modernization” would do. Thus he produced a cradle frame, telescopic forks and a complete re-style – plus an increase in capacity to 750, the first since the military R75 from 1942-1944 – for the /5. Updating the signature boxer twin was left to Alex von Falkenhausen and Ferdinand Jardin. Influenced by their car technology – one example was the new plain bearing crankshaft – they also sought production cost savings.
In three years BMW had revitalized their motorcycles sales.
No question, the /5 was a success out of the box.
By 1973, with a focus on the 750, the bike had developed well, what small problems there had been earlier with handling, braking and fueling, had been well sorted. Time to focus on styling…For model years 1972 and 1973 color choices had increased from three to seven, from black, white and silver to Monza blue, green and gold – all metallic – and Granada red, in addition. And then with an eye to the American market, it is assumed, chrome! Chrome side panels attached to a “smaller” tank matched by chrome-plated side battery covers soon earned the nickname “Toaster” because of their “similarity in appearance to the kitchen appliance.” The re-style was not a sales slam-dunk - the old style tank and side panels remained in the catalog – but it was overwhelmingly memorable. Today, however, there is strong demand for a genuine “Toaster”.
PHOTOS BY: JAMES TYLER REED
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