3 replies [Last post]
stack16's picture
Ransomville, NY
Joined: 10/27/2006
Posts: 1

While I have never been active on this forum aside from saying hello once or twice, I now have the occasion to ask a question of the membership.

Yesterday I got a call from an 80 yr old gentlemen who lives not far from here. He has a 1938 R23 brought back from Germany at the end of WWII by an American MP. I believe he is only the fourth owner but has only a vague history of the machine and doesn't know the total mileage. He also tells me it sat for 10-20 years in storage Its a basket case now as he took it apart a few yrs ago in anticipation of starting a restoration. Due to his age he has decided to start downsizing his life and wants to sell the machine. It still has the original paint and striping. There is supposedly nothing wrong with it and it ran well before teardown. I've not seen it and having been inactive here. wasn't even aware this model existed.

I just need basic information for now; how many were produced; how many members own one; where can I find a picture; and of course what are current prices running. I'm looking forward to hearing more. Thanks. -jim stack

schrader7032's picture
VBMWMO #7032
San Antonio, TX
Joined: 10/27/2006
Posts: 6992
Serial numbers range 106001 -

Serial numbers range 106001 - 114203...enter one of those in the search box to the left to bring up specs on the bike. About 8000 were built. For a picture, try:


Great information can also be found here:


No clue as to price...I think it would be neat to have one. You might consider trolling German ebay...I'm sure these bikes come up now and then.


Kurt in S.A.
'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

Bruce Frey
Bruce Frey's picture
VBMWMO #6316
Texas Hill Country, USA
Joined: 10/27/2006
Posts: 574

While pre-war bikes are my primary focus, I don't ever recall seeing an R23, even when I lived in Europe and went to Veterama every year.

If you enter an engine number or frame number in the boxes on the left side of the screen, you will see the basic technical info for the R23. It was was produced from 1938-1940 and it is the follow-on version of the R20, the primary differences being a larger engine and different tank. The increase in displacement was driven by changes in licensing laws (prior to this, no license was required for <=200cc bikes, but a new license category was then created for bikes <=250cc)

It was the last BMW bike to have a 3 speed transmission and also the last "hardtail" (no rear suspension) model. Many of these bikes were used as training and military/courier bikes and there do not seem to be a lot of survivors. The BMW singles also seem to have been more "disposable" than the twins. There are not a lot of R2 or R20 survivors, either. The R35 were made in very large numbers and lived on after the war because the East Germans continued production.

Basket cases are a lottery. My luck has probably been less than average on the two that I have, but I am a slow learner. Find a parts book (they are available) and carefully inventory what is there. To me, a complete (operative word) R23 basket case would be in the $2500-3000 range. If it is not complete, I personally wouldn't bother. It will be hard to find parts, especially on this side of the ocean.


anderson7585's picture
VBMWMO #7585
Houston, Texas
Joined: 07/24/2009
Posts: 340
You can take Bruce's advice

You can take Bruce's advice (I normally do), coming from someone who is closing in on the end of an R2 restoration COMPLETE would be the deciding factor for me as you CAN find the parts but it will be a slow, difficult and incredibly expensive process.

I chose to forge ahead with the restoration of the R2 BECAUSE of it's rarity but it took almost 9 years to FIND AND BUY the missing parts AND the restoration has taken (so far) a pro 3 years.

This Project has run me just under $20,000.00 (so far).

Good luck, I can and will help all that I am able to.



1973 BMW R75/5 (LWB) "Griselda" (stock looking but with logical/practical improvements), 1971 Norton Commando "Commando Bizarro" (a truly strange custom project), 1936 BMW R2 "Ediltrudis" (stock, currently out getting a pro restoration). www.vinceandersononline.com

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