Antique motorcycles -- restoration project?

I know ok4450 is interested in old bikes. Anybody out there want to take a chance at these beauties at a Bethesda, MD, antique shop that is going out of business (for a few months now)?

I think the “Indian “ is more of an art project than an actual motorcycle.


Nah – it just needs a little more restoration. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Remember the Andy Griffith show where Barney had bought a surplus cycle with side cart?

I bought a wizard bike conversion from a kid for $10. It wasn’t running and none of us could ever figure out what the problem was. Timing, spark, fuel? Everything seemed fine but no run. I guess my dad threw it out eventually. Wasn’t the last $10 I ever lost.

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What model BMW? R71? R75? Does it run? R75s from the 1940s in military livery with sidecars can be worth over $50,000 after restoration.

I don’t know. I expect to be back in that neighborhood Thursday afternoon. Maybe I’ll look.

Or, as I recall, you are not too far from Bethesda. Would you like the address so you can zip down and take a look? :>)

I’m thinking that BMW is more a “tribute” to a WWII version. A pic showing the engine would tell us.

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I can’t see much of the BMW but I also think it’s a tribute version to the R75 German military models. Someone just shot it with desert tan paint. Front hub looks different, no heavy brace on the fender, sidecar is different, etc.
Still, neat bike though. Driven sidecar wheel and 2 gearboxes; one for road use and one for boondocks.

The Russians copied it and called it a Ural. Those are still sold in a dealer network in the U.S. today.
During WWII even Harley built a near identical copy of the R75 for military use. It was called the XA for Experimental Army.

Harley also had a contract to build Knucklehead 3 wheelers for the military but this got cancelled when a company called Willys came out with the Jeep.

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About 45 minutes. I grew up there, when Bethesda was a sleepy little country town. You can post the address, and I might drive by. I’m interested in seeing the neighborhood. If the bike runs and is in decent condition, I might consider it.

  1. I told ya’ ok4450 was interested in old bikes. He knows more about this one than I know about anything, and he hasn’t even seen it. I’ll try to take a closer look Thursday afternoon.

  2. If anybody else wants to look, the address appears to be 8011 Woodmont Ave. in Bethesda, MD.

That BMW might be real, sure looks a lot like this R75 at the BMW museum:

I used to live 5 blocks from there. Actually, it looks like 8011 is a parking lot. A building like the one in the photo is at 8013 Woodmont. No, I haven’t been there. I deduced this from looking at the satellite view in Google Maps.

There is a lot of difference between the first bike pictured and the last one. None of this is meant as a knock on the bike as I think it’s worth drooling over.

I had a chance to look an R75 over in a museum many years ago and around the same time got to go over an R71. The 71 was basically a flathead whereas the 75 is an OHV.

One thing of note is that the first bike appears to have 18 inch wheels. The second has 16s which as far as I know is correct. Maybe there was a courier variant with the larger rim size? Just wonderin’…as always.

What looks like cadmium plating on the wheel rims and handlebars also piques my interest. I can’t see that in a combat situation as shiny things (along with what looks like a brass headlamp shield and chrome lens guard) would make the bike a more visible target.
When the U.S.Army serviced their Harleys speed was critical so they used (seriously) a mop and 5 gallon buckets of OD Green paint to paint them with. No shine anywhere…

I’ve owned 2 BMWs; one with a sidecar. My 2 boys loved rides in the sidehack. The attention getter in the pic would be a hoot to tool around in though. Probably get a lot of questions and some offers to buy it.

My take on this is this company has been going out of business for months. People who are really into antique bikes have probably already checked it out and have scarfed up all the bargains. Not sure why they passed on these bikes, but I suspect they aren’t worth much. I know a couple guys who collect cars and they are constantly searching for deals all over the country. I suspect it’s the same with bike collectors.

OK, you curious minds. I did stop by this afternoon and took the pic’s below. Some of the paint looked non-original.

I went into the store and asked the owner(?) about the bike. He said the title says “1942 BMW”, but that some visiting expert told him the side car was older. He also said something about the Russians (at end of WW II, I guess) stealing things and manufacturing the motorcycles under the “Ural” badge.

He’s asking $8,000, reduced from $19,000. If you want a local agent, I’ll be in that neighborhood twice a week for a while, and I work cheap (especially for CarTalk M&R helpers)

(After posting, I saw that the file names of the pic’s did not carry over, so I added captions.)

  1. The store, exterior

  2. Badge on side car

  3. Badge on rear of side car

  4. Stickers on side car

  5. License plate

  6. Speedo-odo

  7. Engine right side (from front)

  8. Engine left side (from front)

  9. Rear wheel left side

  10. The store, interior

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Pretty sure that’s not a BMW. It’s a flathead, so not an R75, and the flathead BMW (the R12) had a different frame. I think it’s a Chang Jiang CJ750:
Chang Jiang Motorcycles | Chiang Jiang 750 | Motorcyclist (

It could be a BMW R71, but those weren’t used in the war, are rare, and are valuable ($30,000 and up).

Too many question marks on that bike to make it worth 8 grand IMO. It’s a flathead which would make it NOT an R75 which is an OHV.

I also think it’s a Chinese knockoff as I think I had mentioned earlier the headlamp and fender braces did not look right. After looking at a Chinese copy I see that copy has the same lamp with the lens ring and odd fender braces. I agree with texases on this.

Anyone interested in that thing should really be asking how it came to have a 1942 BMW title and eyeballing the VIN very closely for tampering. Asking 19 and down to 8 tells me he’s had people walking away from it. Would love to be a fly on the wall and listen to some of the BS around that bike.
To me, 3 grand and I’d have to think about that for a while unless a molested VIN drops the price much, much further.

Oops. I had the wrong pic for #10. Corrected now, because I think the correct snapshot is kind of cool and because I think it shows that the motorcycle is an oddball item for this store (though I do know less about antiques than about motorcycles).

I still offer to be your local agent. ok4450, do you want me to give hime an offer? :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

The bike is worthless to me as I see no way that is a 42 or any other year BMW.

I think it’s had a number job and actually do tend to think the current seller got snookered by somebody or somebody before snookered the seller. He likely is not familiar with bikes and since the title said 42 BMW assumed it to be one. This makes me wonder how much he is into the bike monetarily. I feel for him.

A check shows a real deal should have an engine and vehicle number of 750001 through over 768000.
A number could be made of up anything in that range and stamped over a ground off original. Tan paint over it and voila…

I have no idea how they do special construction bikes there but if it was claimed to be a ground up whatever I suppose the DMV could consider it a 42 but that does not excuse restamps. It does not work that way in OK.

Decades ago I bought an old Harley and it had a restamped VIN boss on the engine with a legal OK title and license plate of 4 years. This was an impound waiting to happen from a sharp cop so I found another set of legal VIN cases and swapped them. (Harleys before 1970 did not have frame numbers). I still have those cases/title simply because they have value and they are genuine 1942 cases due to the belly machine numbers.

Back in the 70s I bought a Harley Sportster. Some months later I discovered there were 3 Sportsters running around with the same VIN. One in KS, one that went to CA from OK, and the one belonging to me with the real VIN and title. One in CA likely ended up in the Pacific at some point.

The heads look similar to the model 71s I saw online. I’m no expert, but the similarity is there. A 1939 R71 is shown below.