The 1934 BMW R7 concept stands to many classic bike aficionados as one of history's most beautiful and priceless machines, its wild art deco styling standing up well in the modern day. Now, a Miami-based custom builder has recreated the R7 using the thoroughly modern guts of the current model R NineT. And you can buy one.
As wild as the original BMW R7 prototype looks to us now, it must've made at least some sense at the time it was first built. After all, the Art Deco movement was still going in 1934, a time when designers tried to imbue everything from architecture to toasters and automobiles with ornate, curvaceous flair.
Originally conceived as a potential new range-leading superbike for BMW, only one R7 was built as a back-room prototype and design study. Its lavish shape and aerodynamic backwards slant recalled some of the designs Mercedes-Benz was using at the time, but the wickedly flared fenders, aerodynamic body covers and clever side panels were all its own.
It looked stunning, was surprisingly lightweight at 165 kg (364 lb) and went like the clappers, its 793cc boxer engine putting out 35 hp and rendering it capable of more than 90 mph (145 km/h).
But beyond that, it was a bit of an innovation powerhouse as well, with one-off designs used for the engine, gearbox, aerodynamic cylinder heads and engine internals. It also had the first fully telescopic forks in the motorcycle world – a fun footnote, as today's BMW is one of the only brands to offer a good range of bikes that don't use regular telescopic forks for front suspension.
Interestingly, even as a concept, the R7 never made a public tour of the trade shows and expos. It wasn't even released to the press. According to the Vintagent's terrific history piece, it was shelved more or less immediately, and the only glimpse anyone got of it for many decades was a photo captioned "what could have been," in a magazine article about BMW's 1936 model R5.
Truth be told, it would've been too expensive to manufacture. BMW wasn't flush with cash at the time, and wasn't willing to bet the farm on an art deco superbike, especially knowing how conservative the average motorcycle buyer was – and probably still is.
So the R7 was torn down into bits, strapped to a pallet, and pretty much left in the basement at BMW for the next 70 years. A lifetime in mothballs, until it was dragged out and restored by the company between 2005 and 2007 to become a show-stopping, one-of-a-kind feature bike that wowed the crowd at Pebble Beach and many other shows besides.
One-of-a-kind, that is, until now. If you, like a great many folk, think the R7 is one of the better looking motorcycles ever made, you've now got a chance to own a really nicely put together replica, built on the modern, proven, BMW R NineT platform that so many custom builders have enjoyed working with.
Miami custom builder NMoto was so impressed with the restored R7 that it began a homage project in 2017, with the goal of recreating the look of the R7 in a product considerably more affordable than the prototype, which is estimated to be worth more than a million dollars.
The NMoto team has done a great job. Fitting the NineT chassis with some 96 hand-crafted parts, they've recreated the R7 look from the fenders to the fishtail exhausts and just about everything in between. It's really only the signature BMW paralever shaft drive, front nameplate and modern boxer cylinder heads poking out either side that give Project Nostalgia away as a recent creation.
The shapes aren't identical, with the Nostalgia getting slightly thicker fender and side lines, a longer overall stance and a much nicer seat than the original. It also runs much more modern gauges and electronics, naturally, replacing the Duesenberg-style rotating disc speedo of the original with a Motogadget unit. But considering it runs thoroughly modern suspension, brakes, and it'll essentially ride like a NineT, it's a pretty stunning job.
Built to ride and available in 11 different color combinations with plenty of customization options (including a hand gear shifter mounted on the tank), the Nostalgia will be built to order for a starting price of US$49,500. The company also plans to build its own line of parts and accessories for current R NineT owners.
Check out a video of the Nostalgia below.
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