BMW Motorrad Spezial

Louis Lepoix BMW R12

BMW R12 custom streamliner by Louis Lepoix
The other day I got an email from a man called Bertrand Lepoix. He’d spotted our piece on the amazing 1934 BMW R7, and sent in some amazing pictures from his family archives, including a couple of this motorcycle.

“My father Louis Lucien Lepoix (1918-1988) was an industrial designer—French born, but mostly based in Germany during his career. With no backing of any kind from BMW, he designed and constructed an extreme streamlined bike based on a BMW R12 chassis in 1947,” says Bertrand.

There are similarities here with the work of famed American designers Norman Bel Geddes and Raymond Loewy, but at the time Lepoix designed his R12, he wasn’t aware they existed. “He didn’t speak or read English,” says his son. “He came from a family of very low means—his parents were peasants.”

Louis Lepoix bought his R12 from an auction organized by the French military but he didn’t keep it long. “Strapped for cash, my father had to sell it in the late 40s, and since that time, no one knows where it is,” says his son. “Some of the design elements were later used in the design of motorbikes produced by small companies in Germany during the 1950s: Louis used the BMW to build his name in the German motorbike industry, and conceived many machines 1950s for Kreidler, Hercules, Horex, Puch, Maico, Triumph, Bastert and Walba.

Unfortunately, there is not much information now about this BMW, or who the buyer was. My father tried to relocate it; we always assumed it was probably exported at some point to the USA.” Does somebody, somewhere, know where this bike is? If you have any information, please let us know.

See more photos from Lepoix’ archives in this photo album on the Bike EXIF Facebook page. Image copyright FTI Erika Kübler.

  • Turgut

    That is a beauty.. and not just a styling exercise. I believe this should be one of the early examples of brake and clutch lever protectors, if not the first.

    Wish Monsieur Lepoix continued his modifications, he could have been to BMW what Henri Chapron is to Citroen.

    I also know who the buyer is definitely not: BMW, otherwise they would have learned something from it and apply to their bikes..

    I just admire this bike now, could you please post or send some more pictures from other angles if you have any?


  • That is another amazing example of a time where bikes and cars were considered art. Beautiful bike and I hope someone can find it for Bertrand.

  • JU

    Aplaus, Monsieur!

  • Pure genius! What a beautiful design.

  • jesse

    Always cool to see a bit of Industrial Design history – especially when moto related!

  • JS

    Very Very Nice! I always appreciate the French Aesthetic in bikes and cars.

    I wonder though if the fairing has been scrapped by some BMW enthusiast looking to restore the E12 to “original” condition. What a mistake that would be!

  • definitely a beautiful bike, i’d love to see a lower front shot.

  • Wow, very cool!!!

  • Ken Dibnah

    In an era when ‘minimalist’ designs, ‘naked’ bikes and ‘bobbers’ seem to be so popular and prevalent, this jewel is so unusual, it stands out and literally rolls my socks down! The proportions seem so perfect, it truly is a work of art! I would love to open that ‘trunk.’

    I look forward to my daily visit to your site, I love the connections and the odd-ball sites you provide the links to and I vote your site the number one time-waster on the ‘net. Congratulations (I voted for you)!

  • porter

    As an Industrial Designer, I am pleased to see such a fine effort in the styling of this BMW. Its amazing that he did it himself. If enough noise is made about this, I am sure that it will be recovered.

  • Sexy. Damn sexy.

  • Hey guys, check out Paul’s post on the Vintagent about this bike at