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.