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BMW Motorcycle History

BMW Announces Online Database of BMW Motorcycle Photos, Historical Information and More

The new BMW Historical Archive includes information, photos and details on motorcycle and automobile history, biographies of famous motor racing personalities and more.

The information is categorized in several different ways, and is available through individual keyword searches or by selecting a year from an historical timeline.

We found the server to be very slow, but with patience, the user can find reams of information and photographs covering the entire BMW motorcycle history.

BMW claims that the Historical Archive makes the BMW Group the only vehicle manufacturer in the world to offer fans of the BMW brand, owners of historic BMW and Mini models, journalists and agencies a freely researchable archive on the internet in this complex format. The archive is available in both English and German.

Including the early days of the factory in Eisenach, the company’s history covers a period of around 100 years. The goal of the Historical Archive is to gather together all documents of significance to the company in one place in an organized fashion.

Important documents from the founding days of the company to the year 1975 can be researched, and nearly 16,500 images are available for viewing and ordering. “Thanks to the electronic archive we are now able to offer all Internet users the possibility of a virtual tour through the history of the BMW and MINI brands,” says Johann Raiger, who heads the BMW Group company archive.

The database is designed to enable users at all levels of technical expertise and knowledge and with different objectives to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. In all, there are four search functions to choose from: a simple search for users without previous experience, a field and text search for experienced database users, a thesaurus search for researchers, and an image search.

One special feature of electronic searching is that all the data is linked up. For example, if you are seeking information on a particular model, you will be shown not only photos and technical data, but also links to key personalities who played a role in the development of the model.

Online Photo Purchase Available

The image database will be useful to journalists, researchers and private customers. A simple guest login allows any user to research the archive. A user name and password are only required for ordering images. Photos can be ordered using a shopping basket system.

A further service consists of a so-called “lightbox” that activates after login and allows accessed data or entire lists of hits to be deposited in working folders. These entries remain stored and can be accessed again at the next login.

BMW Certificates of Authenticity

The company archive also offers owners of historic BMW models the option of ordering certificates of authenticity. These certificates are made of forgery-proof paper and list individual specifications along with the exact completion and delivery date, the engine and chassis number and – if available – details on equipment levels of the relevant car or motorcycle.

Good Tip From wBW Visitor “M.M.”: “Long time enthusiast here. Two updates for your BMW stuff. I tried using the BMW Historical Archive site and it does not work outside of Europe for vehicle certificates. There IS a place where the folks in the USA can order the Certificates:  BMW Online. At the home page, click on SEARCH at the bottom. Enter certificate in the search box and hit enter. There you can order the official certificate of birth for just about any BMW car or motorcycle.

For online parts catalogs, go to and enter the last 7 digits of any car or motorcycle and get the BMW ETK parts catalog instantly. It’s a GREAT resource. I worked with this guy (Rusty) to get the motorcycle pages working and he has done a fine job. He does NOT sell parts, just provides the reference data. Editor’s Note: Thanks for the tips, M.M. – the parts catalog is fantastic, let’s hope BMW lets him keep this site going, they haven’t been too keen on non-BMW dealers providing this information in the past!

The archive can be accessed on the internet in an English and German version

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