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An unknown BMW R71 copy...?


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The 1939 Delco military 2 to 3 Wheeler

 

In 1939, Delco (a GM subsidiary) offered to demonstrate what they called was their product, a convertible shaft-drive motorcycle that could be converted from a two-wheeler to a three-wheeler when needed. The Delco two-wheeler and three-wheeler were tested at Knox in 1939. A few interesting things to note: the Delco representatives would not allow the US Army to watch the conversion process, an LT at the test observed that the emblem depressions (no actual emblems present only two screw holes) on the tanks sides and the controls were very similar to a BMW he had owned, the tires seen in the photos of the test are European Continentals.

 

This test going fairly well led QMC to further believe that the opposed-twin shaft-drive was a better design.

 

Since the end of WWI, money was a major issue for the US Army. Very little money was ever allowed by Congress for new vehicles and even less for vehicle development. Development was left up to the manufacturers and the Combat Arms.

 

With the invasion of Poland in 1939, Congress began to open the Treasury purse a little more. Most of the money was needed to build up the existing units as most were under equipped especially the National Guard units. In 1939, QMC had only enough spare money to buy four experimental motorcycles, two from Indian and two from H-D. In 1940, enough spare money was now available to pursue shaft-drive development. Unfortunately for the XA, there was only enough to pursue either a two-wheeler or a three-wheeler. QMC, at the urgings of Cavalry, pursued the three-wheeler first. After negotiations, Indian and H-D were contracted (September 7, 1940) and Delco was not. Delco priced themselves out of negotiations in a very serious way. And unfortunately for the three-wheelers, Bantam’s improved 4x4 ¼ ton was being retested (after having failed miserably in 1938).

 

The shaft-drive three-wheelers passed the testing and were found to meet the US Army’s needs superbly. However, so did the Bantam. Both were tested against one another with the Bantam being superior in most (not all) cases. The three-wheeler option was passed.

 

The 1941 budget allowed for two-wheel shaft drive testing. The Indian was contracted March 6, 1941. The XA August 6, 1941. Again, Delco priced themselves out of the competition.

 

By Bruce Palmer III 09-09-2010

Link to original article...

 

 

 

gallery_19816_315_60996.jpg

 

 

 

 

Never seen an air filter like that on an R71 (the pic from the book looks "normal" 71)... Looks like a filter from a later, post war R51. Have anyone seen a filter like this on an R71?... Pics???

 

Looks to me that we might have the earliest BMW R71 copy here, the holes for the emblems in the tank suggest that it's really not a copy, maybe they used a newly bought R71 for the project (1939)... Could not find any more pics on the net. Do anyone else have any pics or know anything about this bike...???

 

 

 

gallery_19816_315_35751.jpg

 

gallery_19816_315_46327.jpg

 

 

//Pete

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