It all began in 1972 when John Harper and Jeff Dean convinced 15 other like-minded enthusiasts to join them in a newly founded club they called the Vintage BMW Motorcycle Owners, Ltd. This was to be a club “devoted to the preservation of classic and antique BMW motorcycles”, as the masthead on the club’s publication so proudly stated. Our first emphasis was solely on BMW Motorcycles built prior to 1955.

The club magazine began as the Vintage BMW Bulletin in May 1972. It was all of 4 pages and featured two photos, the names and addresses of the club’s first 17 members, a rather comprehensive serial number list of all models from 1923 to 1972 and 13 classified ads. Jeff Dean was the editor, but soon gave up after only 3 issues. John Harper managed to convince Roland Slabon (author of “How to restore your BMW Motorcycle”) to step in as editor and publisher, putting out the 4th edition of the Bulletin in July of 1973.

It continued that way for the next 32 years or so, with Roland being assisted during those years by John Harper, John Lacko, Rich Sheckler, Robert Beeman, Craig Vechorik and Chris Betjemann as secretaries. The Bulletin, during those years grew from 4 pages to nearly 32, and membership worldwide grew as well. 

Around 2004 Jeffery Yost and Jeff Carpenter took over the reins, and began a complex and much-welcomed transformation of the club. We gained a website, through the skill and diligence of Herb Langston, our first webmaster, who built “The Vintage BMW Page”, the first ever in-depth web site devoted to vintage BMW motorcycles.  Soon after, he designed and built the original web site for the Vintage BMW Motorcycle Owners club. Eventually the two sites merged, and he continued to maintain the club site until it was passed on to our next webmaster, Darryl Richman, who also soon took over as club vice-president and editor of the Bulletin, a job previously assumed by both Jeff Carpenter and Jeffery Yost.  The leadership role then passed to Hans Rosenstein, and finally now to our current President, Mac Kirkpatrick.

The website and the membership continued to grow, as did the Bulletin. What had started out as 4 typewritten pages in 1972 now approached 40, as a quarterly publication, with color covers, glossy pages and tantalizing stories. In the Spring of 2011 it was decided to expand the focus of the club to include “classic” BMWs, defined as any BMW 25 years old or older, and to reflect that by changing the name of the magazine to Classic BMW Motorräder.

Both BMW AG in Germany and BMW NA have supported us for many years, as has the International Council of BMW Clubs, and a number of our trustees and former officers have been honored as “Friends of the Marque”.  Several officers are recipients of the Dr. Knöchlein Award as recognition for years of deep support of BMW and its motorcycle heritage. 

As we now approach our 49th year, we will be offering a new website with upgraded forums, and a timelier and more informative and entertaining magazine, all thanks to the small band of hard-working volunteers among our trustees and contributors. We encourage all of you to join us with your stories, as participants in our various events nationwide, and in our continued enjoyment and preservation of vintage and classic BMW motorcycles.

– Roland Slabon June 15, 2020