1940 BMW R12
1942 BMW R75
The BMW Military Motorcycle R75
From 1920-1990 BMW was known for their odd but truly remarkable engineering, from the shaft driven air cooled motor and ease of maintenance the bike was truly known for is bullet proof reliability and performance. Although ignored by the Europeans and Americans, the twin and single cylinder motorcycles ruled the American motorcycle scene until the early stages of WWII.
The American Military, seeing the bullet proof reliability, ease of maintenance, engineering excellence and good performance in all terrain from the deserts of Africa to the Frozen Tundra the Americans knew that Germany has something we did not - A good reliable robust motorcycle....
In the early 1940's Harley Davidson motorcycles was called upon by the military to make a more robust and and reliable motorcycle than their Harley Davidson and Indian Twins by making an opposed air cooled twin BMW clone to contend with the BMW's superior military machine, not only to see if this could improve the reliability of the military HD, but maybe discover a whole new outlook on motorcycle engineering, thus the 1947 XA-750 was born by cloning decent copy of an 1938 R13. Although a failure in more ways than one, it does show the open minds that HD once solicited and when you look back it reminds me of why I have always been a fan of Vintage / pre 90's Harley Davidson's outlook on American Motorcycling.
Excerpt from HD:
1942Among other motorcycles made for the Army, H-D produces the unique XA 750, a motorcycle with horizontally opposed cylinders and shaft drive, designed for desert use. The contract is cancelled early due to war combat moving out of North Africa. Only 1,011 XA's are built.