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The aviation and automotive industries have always been somehow intertwined, so it’s no surprise to see cars and motorcycles taking inspiration cues from airplanes and fighter jets. We’ve seen countless projects that tried to combine the best of both worlds over the years, and today we’re looking at one that comes from the motorcycle realm.
Swiss aftermarket masters over at VTR Customs have unveiled a one-off BMW Motorrad R 18 inspired by the German Junkers Ju 52 airplane called Iron Annie. Based on the R 18 First Edition, the bespoke motorcycle bears the same name and comes with a vintage aviation makeover.
The legendary Junkers Ju 52, also known as “Aunt Ju,” is a three-engine commercial and transport aircraft from the depression era, developed by aeronautical engineer Ernst Zindel. It took its first flight in 1930 and is still remembered by many, including one of VTR Customs’ clients in Schmerikon, Switzerland, who approached them to build this customized BMW R 18 Iron Annie.
Inspired by the utilitarian corrugated aluminum skin and exposed rivets on the Ju 52 aircraft, the BMW R 18 boasts a bespoke bodywork consisting of hand-formed sheet metal aluminum components pieced together using genuine lens-head rivets.
Nods to the Ju 52 airplane can be noticed throughout the build, starting with the aforementioned aluminum bodywork and the aviation-inspired vertical fin tail section with a horizontal bar housing the rear indicators to the paintwork that follows Iron Annie’s gray and black color scheme.
At the front, the motorcycle’s DLC-coated fork has been shortened by 2.8 inches (7 cm), giving the build a more aggressive stance. Iron Annie was also fitted with height-adjustable Wilber shock absorbers and Magura HC3 master cylinders. A Highsider LED headlight covered in a bespoke headlight shroud sits up front between the handlebars.
The R 18 cruiser’s engine was not left unattended during the customization process. The 1,802cc mill, along with the chrome trim components and fork stanchions, was removed and painted black. But apart from the color change, the engine remains stock, still endowing the bike with 91 hp (92.3 ps) and 116 lb-ft (157 Nm) of torque.
Other noteworthy bespoke components include a vintage-style speedometer crafted by watchmaker Zeitzone Zurich, a saddle-inspired brown leather seat, a Berham Customs numberplate carrier, and top-shelf 18-inch and 21-inch spoked Kineo wheels.
According to Daniel Weidmann, Owner & Managing Director of VTR Motorrad & VTR Customs, one of the most challenging parts of this project was creating the custom exhaust, as “shaping these parts into parallel and beautiful radii and at the same time still fastening them harmoniously took a number of attempts.”
VTR Customs’ latest build, with its perfect combination of modern performance and gorgeous vintage aesthetics, is yet another proof of the BMW R 18 cruiser’s versatility.