This BMW R18 ‘Iron Annie’ Is Inspired By A WWII-Era German Transport Plane
A vintage military aircraft informed this killer custom cruiser’s aluminum-paneled design.
BMW is paying homage to its aviation heritage and German roots with a custom R18 inspired by a vintage Junkers aircraft.
The R18 “Iron Annie” is named after the the legendary Junkers Ju 52, a three-engine aircraft that served as an interim German bomber before WWII, a German troop transport during WWII, and a European commercial aircraft in the post-war period until 1950. The plane, which was powered by a BMW 132 radial engine for much of its lifespan, earned the “Iron Annie” nickname for its reliability and minimal maintenance requirements.
But this custom cruiser pays homage to a specific example of one of the final commercial Junkers Ju 52 examples, acquired by American author Martin Caidin for $150,000 with registration D-AQUI in 1975.
Starting with an R18 First Edition, Swiss BMW partner VTR Motorrad AG & VTR Customs painted the chrome, fork stanchions and massive 1,802cc Big Boxer two-cylinder black. WWII aircraft-style aluminum planking covers the frame, internals and gas tank while also forming an airplane fine-like tail. The final color scheme is true to the D-AQUI’s gray and black hues, save for the BMW tri-colored exhaust.
“One of the big challenges…was the replica cooling fins in the area of the rear silencers. Shaping these parts into parallel and beautiful radii and at the same time still fastening them harmoniously took a number of attempts,” Dainel Weidmann, owner of VTR Motorrad & VTR Customs, said of the aluminum sheet metal work.
The cockpit trim was narrowed and flattened to showcase the streamlined silhouette, and the speedometer, with a hand crafted by watchmaker Zeitzone Zurich, was integrated into the tank in the style of old cockpit instruments.
“To make the bike look smaller and give it a more filigree appearance between the wheels, we had large 18 and 21 inch wheels made by Kineo,” adds Daniel Weidmann.
The BMW R18 Iron Annie was commissioned by an anonymous customer in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Per their request, another one will never be made.