1973 BMW R60/5 Toaster Tank
1973.5 Long Wheelbase, One Meticulous and Caring Owner For The Last 40 Years, Completely Original Except Petcocks, Mufflers, and Battery, Incredible Original Paint, All Original Paperwork Including Original Bill of Sale, MSO, Title, Registration, Owner's Manual, Battery Manual and Brochure Still In Original Pouch, Runs and Rides Extremely Well, Never Spent a Night Outside, Always Stored in Climate Controlled Garage, Only Ridden on Sunny Days, 16.8k Original Miles.
It seems incredible now, but in the mid-1960s, BMW came close to abandoning motorcycle production completely. Motorcycles were suddenly becoming a losing proposition, so BMW decided to focus on developing its more profitable automobile business, a move that in time revived the company’s finances: It also meant that the BMW motorcycle range got somewhat neglected.
The then-contemporary BMW R60/2 was badly outclassed in power and handling by Italian, British and Japanese bikes. The sportier BMW R69S was available with lighter telescopic forks and a few more horses, but it was still pretty sluggish. Both bikes retained such anachronisms as a DC generator, 6-volt electrics and magneto ignition. If BMW was to continue building motorcycles, a radical change was needed.
In 1964, BMW made the decision to stay in the motorcycle business, and lured Hans-Günther von der Marwitz away from Porsche. It was his job to design the new bikes, which would be built at Spandau, near Berlin, instead of Munich. The Slash 5 series (R50/5, R60/5 and R75/5 of 500, 600 and 750cc) was announced for the 1970 season, and represented a revolution in BMW motorcycle design. Though the flat-twin BMW boxer engine layout remained, just about everything else was new.
In the engine, a new forged 1-piece crank with bolt-on flywheels replaced the old built-up, roller-bearing shaft, and used connecting rods borrowed from the 2.8-liter 6-cylinder car engine. The camshaft, formerly above the crankshaft and gear-driven, was moved below the crank and was now chain-driven. Iron-lined light alloy cylinder barrels replaced the previous cast iron types and were capped with redesigned cylinder heads fed by standard slide-type Bings on the R60 and R50 models. Other improvements included an alternator-powered 12-volt electrical system with an electric starter, though the kickstart was retained.
A much lighter tubular steel frame featured a large-diameter backbone and duplex tubes with the drive shaft built into the right side of the rear swingarm. Twin Boge rear spring/shock units were adjustable for preload with a simple hand lever. A Sachs telescopic fork of BMW design replaced the Earles fork at the front end. Light alloy wheel rims were attached to alloy hubs with a twin-leading-shoe, 7.3-inch drum front brake and similar sized single-leading-shoe drum rear.
In a bid to keep the bikes trim, BMW put considerable effort into weight reduction with extensive use of light alloy and a much lighter flywheel for the single-plate clutch. The overall effect was a machine that, at a little over 400 pounds dry, was much less bulky than the /2, had more power (46hp for the R60/5 versus just 32hp for the R60/2), handled extremely well and had better clearance thanks to the cylinders being farther away from the ground.
This Bike :
This R60/5 is one of the most well preserved original motorcycles I have ever seen. One of the first things I said to the bike's owner before purchasing it was how nice the restoration looked. I then asked him how long ago it was done. It looked like one of the nicest restored toaster tanks I had ever seen with what appeared to be a well detailed and fresh restoration. But he replied, "No, it's almost completely original. I know because I'm the original owner."
From his purchase of the bike in 1973 until we acquired it last month, he took extremely good care of the bike and never rode it in bad weather. He put just 16,800 miles on it over the 41 years he owned the bike. He took great pride in his ownership. He still had all the original paperwork, the bill of sale, the original brochure he looked at when buying the bike (with his handwriting on the back) and even the MSO, in a folder that he gave to me. He told me the bike never spent a night outside. The bike's incredible condition is a result not only of his care but is a testament to BMW engineering, paint application technique and parts quality, as well as their workmanship.
The bike makes a striking first impression because of its condition and because it is painted in the beautiful but rarely seen color of Metallic Gold, also known as Curry Metallic Gold in the US. The bike is a 1973.5 with the desirable longer wheelbase. For 1973 BMW had also fixed the fork issue that had troubled the earlier bikes.
The bike lived all its life in Birmingham, Alabama, so it was never exposed to the harsh salty roads of the north. A fanatic for cleanliness and general care for the bike, he kept every original piece of paper with the bike from day one. This includes the original bill of sale, the original MSO, the original registration, the original brochure, and original owner's manual, all in their original BMW pouch. Under the seat of the bike is equally original. All the original tools are in their original roll, they (and the roll) look absolutely like new and were probably never used. The original air pump is still present, as is an extra set of points, an extra spark plug in its original Bosch packaging, the original Varta battery manual, a Rema Tip Top patch kit, an extra key, and even two original rags. He even checked off the items that were completed according to the manual's suggestion for maintenance after riding the bike the first 30 miles. The original brochure has on the back the original pencil written calculations on how much the bike originally cost.
He told me the bike was only ridden in nice weather and always stored it in his climate controlled garage while not being ridden. The only thing he ever did to the bike was change the oil, replace the fuel petcocks, battery and mufflers (with replacement OEM BMW units.) He wrote me a letter testifying that those were the only things ever changed on the bike. The fact that it was never stored outside accounts for the remarkable overall condition of the bike, but especially the paint. The paint is 100% original and has the most amazing luster I have ever seen on original paint in either cars or motorcycles. Only a few extremely small nicks give away the fact it is not a recent respray. Most people think it is brand new paint, and for the most part, it looks exactly like it. The chrome is equally outstanding. The seat and gauges look brand new (the speedometer recently stopped reading, they are known to be finicky, but the odometer still works.)
I have always held the view that original cars and motorcycles drive and ride better than restored examples. Well taken care of low mileage examples even more so. This bike is a great example. Everything feels just right, as you might imagine it would have in 1973. The bike starts up instantly, shifts extremely well, does not smoke, and while this is our first /5 and don't have much to compare it to, we think it rides wonderfully. The only thing the bike might need is a new oil pan gasket, but we didn't want to remove anything that wasn't original from the bike. It only seeps a bit so we didn't find it necessary to change it. While the valves seemed loud to us, I had several different people listen to the bike running and revving and they said this was completely normal for these motors and that they are known for being quite loud in the valvetrain. Please see the video below for footage of the bike riding.
Many people spend years looking for bikes like this and still can't find them. Bikes in this condition are the rarest in the market. Bikes at this level of original condition do not often come up for sale. Beautiful original paint is the holy grail to some collectors (myself included.) It has an an unmarred, known, and well loved history, low original miles, has had only a single owner for the last 41 years, is painted a beautiful and less common color, and has all its original paperwork, books and tools. And it rides really well. The bike really possesses a special charisma that cannot be found in perfectly restored or just rider-quality bikes. The documents and small toolkit items that accompany the bike are a pleasure to hold and look at, and one can really imagine the bike back in 1973, in a condition very similar to the way it remains today. It is a pleasure to tell the story of the bike and people are stunned when you tell them it's pretty much completely original.
The title with the bike is its current registration and bill of sale since Alabama does not issue titles for vehicles of this vintage. You will get these items as well as a New York State transfer form (MV50) from us.
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