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VTR’s One-Off Build Is a BMW R 18 Inspired By the Junkers Ju 52 Aircraft

BMW R 18 IRON ANNIE By VTR Customs x BMW Motorrad 0 Hero
Photos: BMW Motorrad

The brainchild of aeronautical engineer Ernst Zindel, the Ju 52 is an iconic transport aircraft produced by German aviation firm Junkers. First taking flight in 1930, this Depression-era aircraft would ultimately serve as the inspiration for the latest one-off work from world-renowned Swiss shop VTR Customs.

BMW R 18 IRON ANNIE By VTR Customs x BMW Motorrad 1
Photo: BMW Motorrad

Christened the “R 18 IRON ANNIE,” the project follows in the footsteps of VTR’s fire-breathing BMW R1200-based ‘Spitfire’ build with its antique airplane theme. Wearing a full set of bespoke hand-formed sheet metal aluminum bodywork that’s pieced together using genuine lens-head rivets, the build starts with a custom tank that feeds downward into a full-coverage fairing and belly-pan combo while also jetting out rearward to form the bike’s monoposto tail section. Up in front, a Highsider LED headlight has also been encompassed by a bespoke headlight shroud while out in back now sits an aviation-inspired vertical fin tail section that sports a horizontal bar that holds the project’s rear indicators while clearly paying homage to airplane fin stabilizers.

BMW R 18 IRON ANNIE By VTR Customs x BMW Motorrad 2
Photo: BMW Motorrad

Leaving the factory as a First Edition R 18, the cruiser model’s engine was pulled and painted black before the same treatment was bestowed upon the bike’s chrome trim elements and fork stanchions.  The Schmerikon shop has also gifted the massive 1.8-liter Boxer twin a set of blacked-out reverse cone mufflers that poke out from a set of replica cooling fins at the back of the build’s belly-pan. The addition of a height-adjustable Wilbers shock and a DLC-coated fork that’s been shortened by 2.75” also afford the build a more aggressive, attack-ready stance — an area furthered by build’s custom top-shelf 18” and 21” spoked Kineo wheels. Other highlights, aftermarket items, and one-off elements include ABM Vario clip-on handlebars, a Berham Customs numberplate carrier, Magura HC3 levers and masters, and a bespoke saddle crafted by VTR Customs and Yves Knobel Saddlery. The cockpit has also been treated to a speedometer that’s been set in the front of the tank before having its dial customized by watchmaker Zeitzone Zurich. Interestingly, the R 18 IRON ANNIE has also been designed to achieve road-legal status. 

BMW R 18 IRON ANNIE By VTR Customs x BMW Motorrad 3
Photo: BMW Motorrad

On top of looking spectacular with its ultra-clean factory-level finish, VTR’s latest build also does a phenomenal job of demonstrating just how surprisingly versatile BMW’s behemoth R 18 cruiser can be — at least when in the right hands.