There is that awful realization when you have to ask yourself, "am I hoarding or am I building"? I think I'm mature enough to understand what my mentor Mark Spitler was saying to me years ago when I pursued my airhead passion, "they're kind of like orphans, but you can't bring them all home..."
In the summer of 2012, when my airhead hoarding became an addiction I found a 1973 R75/5 LWB frame and matching number engine block in Los Angeles. It's an early number 1973 /5, with a factory production date of January 1973. Other than that not much history is known about this /5, however it came with a nice CA blue plate and the seller sold everything else that was valuable. The original plan was to slowly piece together a stock 1973 LWB with a toaster tank. I started to hunt down some parts but of course other opportunities for the hoarder in me prevailed...
Fast forward to Christmas of 2012, I received an email from an individual down in San Diego. He said he had two R90S' and enough parts to build three /5's. I drove down there with a trailer with cash in hand. This individual wasn't your ordinary collector of airheads, he was a hoarder, and he seemed to have an attention span of one second per topic. He was disorganized, parts and bikes were all over the warehouse floor, I literally had to climb over bikes and boxes of parts and junk. In the chaos I saw a 1974 BMW R90S that was mangled in the rear end from an accident. It had a cake of dirt on the bike as if it was dug up from its grave. I spent some time checking it out and made the decision that it can be saved. I was able to make a deal with the seller and came home with a 1974 R90S, 1975 R90S, and a 1983 R100T motor & gearbox.
To be quite honest, I'm running out of room and it bothers me every time I pass by these parts. Life equals movement and these bikes need to live again. I decided to combine the 1973 R75/5 with parts off the 1974 R90S. Aesthetically the bike will be a toaster /5 combined with the mechanical core of the R90S; front end, 900cc cylinders, heads, gearbox and 33/11 final drive. This is nothing new and its been done many times over. But here is a story of a 1973 BMW R75S you can follow.
/5 Toaster Tank: I picked this tank up in Santa Monica from a guy who was moving to Utah. We literally met off the 405 exit, off Santa Monica Blvd., and conducted the transaction in a neighborhood in the dark of the night from his U-Haul. This sale taught me never to buy a fuel tank in the dark or anything for that matter. It had small dents I couldn't see until the next morning, but the factory red tank lining was still in very good condition, so I saved some money there.
/5 Toaster Panels: The chrome panels I found off ebay in 2012. For some reason no one was bidding on it and I was able to score a good deal for its near original condition. The ebay seller was a young lady selling off her grandfathers collection of BMW parts and bikes from his barn somewhere north of LA. The panel is almost perfect but tiny speckles of oxidation can be seen up close. It's too original to re-chrome! I suspect that the grandfather was one of the early /5 buyers who disliked the toaster panels and immediately took it off when purchased.
Engine Block: Crank bearings are in very good condition. I will be pulling those out before cleaning the case.
/5 Speedometer: I was going to save this new-old-stock speedometer for a special project, this seems like the one. I purchased the speedo from Mr. Evan Bell, owner of Irv Seaver BMW in Orange, California. This was his last one, so don't be calling him and dropping my name. Mr. Bell said in 1973 a shipment of unsold 1973 /5's was brought over to Irv Seaver BMW from BMW Italy. So why is this speedo so special? The speedo is in "km" and not "mph", so they had to switch it out... SOLD!
74 R90S Frontend: The fork legs are stamped 1974 with 74 standard ATE 38mm calipers and 74 "S" standard solid rotors. Rotors have been tested on a running bike.
74 R90S Crank, Camshaft, Rods: All standard for this build.
Siebenrock Oil Distance Ring: In 1974 the "S" still had the low-profile oil sump. I will be using the low-profile sump with the distance ring as seen on my earlier 1972 R75/5 SWB build.
74 R90S Dellorto Carburetors: Will need complete rebuild.
73 & 74 R90S Gearbox: Both 5 speed gearboxes came off R90s'. The one on top belong to the 1974 R90S, it has 1973 stamped on the bottom housing and the one below belonged to a 1975 R90S with 1974 stamped on it. I would need to use the housing from the 74 R90S (top) because the housing on the 75 R90S (bottom) gearbox housing is broken at the clutch cable tab.
74 R90S Final Drive 33/11: Surprisingly, the splines on the crown gear is in very good condition. I usually send my final drives to get re-splined but this spline has about 80% life left.
1973 R75/5 Swing Arm: I already had a swingarm powder coated with new bearings in it, but I can't remember how I got it. Note the 1973 extension weld on the swingarm.
Centerstand: Brand new from the dealer. No longer necessary for the 1978 R100S build.
CA Blue Plate: Good condition, no need to restore.
To be continued