Bunker Find: BMW R35 Motorcycle

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The individual selling this BMW R35 motorcycle here on eBay is a man (or woman) of few words. We do not know much, but what we do know is intriguing. The bike is referred to as a “bunker find,” a type of find I cannot remember many of over the last several years. In fact, it may be the first. But this just leads to so many other questions, as a bunker can serve multiple purposes. Perhaps if you’re ready to click the Buy-It-Now button for $8,000, the seller will let you in on the secrets of its storage. 

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If you think the seller specializes in vintage motorcycles, think again. It appears he specializes in vintage anything, which makes it even harder to expect any sort of insight into this bike’s history (though he does have a late-model BMW 5-Series wagon for sale, so maybe he’s a fan of Bimmers and Beamers at heart). The listing doesn’t go into great detail, other than to say you have to pick the bike up in Utah and what you see is what you get. The word “salvage” is thrown into the listing title, so again, the questions run deep with this vintage R35.

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The R35 represented some engineering advancements for BMW, featuring a single-cylinder that generated about 14 b.h.p. The bike also featured a new telescopic fork in front, but the heavier pressed steel frame remained. The bike was a popular choice for military and police applications, and I’m sure more than a few of the WWII documentaries and movies have featured an R35 in different scenes. This example would look even better with a matching sidecar attached, but I suspect there’s plenty of additional reconditioning that needs to be done before you begin accessorizing.

Image courtesy of vgmotorcycles.com

Here’s what one can look like fully restored. Given the bike’s tendency to be used for utilitarian purposes, I wonder if the bunker description has to do with being stored by a military wing for years before being unearthed. Either way, I’d love to find out the backstory behind its storage arrangement. Thanks goes to Barn Finds reader Jonathan in Dallas for the find – now, do any of our readers have a clue what this bike’s history might resemble? Let us know your thoughts and speculations below.

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  1. Somer

    Many were built after WWII in Eastern Germany. They are known as E35’s and not worth a lot.

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  2. Jimbosidecar

    Agree, this might be an EMW (Eisenacht), I’ve been buying these frames and gas tanks and retrofitting them onto plunger framed bikes. You can see pictures of what they end up looking like at http://www.bmwsidecar.com. So obviously these frames are abundant and reasonably priced

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  3. Robert White

    Ultra WOW, I am smitten, and off to buy more lottery tickets. This is one fantastic looking bike and I would jump for joy if I could ever get a bike like this. Frankly, I have never seen this version of BMW before and I have owned two British motorcycles, and am a fan of vintage bikes. Thanks for posting these old classics, Barn Finds.


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  4. Kralik

    I thought the Eisenach-produced vehicles used a red-and-white symbol as opposed to the blue-and-white pattern used by Munich?

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  5. seth

    Had a 65 R50/2 that had the fittings to mount a sidecar. This one is missing those.

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  6. Lee

    I think Bunker refers to the boards holding this undesirable up / Bunkie

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  7. Mark S

    Very cool looking bike, but is way under powered for any kind of practical use. 14 bhp isn’t much higher than a garden tracker. I would carefully refit this frame with a larger more powerful motor. You need to get it up to about 65 bhp to be practical. After that this would be a great platform for a sidecar rig. Ive personally have had two side car rigs. My first was a 2008 Ural patrol 750 cc 2 cylinder boxer engine, with 40 bhp it had a max speed of 100 kph down hill with the wind at your back. This is a terrifying speed to travel at on any highway due to traffic wanting by you. My second bike is a 1977 Goldwing 1000 cc 65 bhp 4 cylinder boxer engine this bike has a custom built sidecar and is capable of 135 kph which will keep up to traffic and even though it is 39 years old is the better bike. The point I’m trying to make i guess I’d love to build this into a sidecar rig using a period correct sidecar.but it has to be able keep up. Nice find.

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  8. teerod

    Cool BimmerBike but is the Holy Grail still the one that Steve McQueen rode in ‘The Great Escape’? I’d give a lot just to SIT on that one. Speaking of which, some fat old rich dude is probably sittin on that one. We’ll probably never know.

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    • Doug Towsley

      You are correct that a BMW ridden by Steve McQueen WOULD be exceedingly rare since he did not ride one. They were Triumphs (British) dressed up to LOOK like BMW and DKW bikes. Besides that, Steve never did the jump. Bud Ekins did. Filled in as Stunt rider for him in the movie. I have some photos if you like of Steve McQueen sitting on a bike from the movie with Bud Ekins and his wife and James Garner sitting next to them. Do your research, Ton of material out there on this topic. Bud Ekins ran a shop in California and was close friends with Steve. They both also enjoyed racing and McQueen did a lot of racing including competing representing the US in several races with the transatlantic Britain vs the USA. Steves bike from THAT race has been restored and several accurate tribute bikes also built.

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      • Jän Strough

        True. I have a picture somewhere of the stuntman doing the jump.

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  9. Mike Kiser

    What a terrible ebay add … He also has a trashed out 1999 5 series wagon for high dollar … Which I happen to love … No mention of mileage that I can see …

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  10. Harold Wood

    Could have been a real bunker find. High ranking officers could sneak back all kinds of spoils of war. Times are different now. I Had an AK47 I managed to get back as far as to Okinawa but then from there back I was flying civilian airlines and chickened out on trying to get it any further as I wasn’t a high ranking officer, lol. so I sold it to someone stationed there for $15.

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