|Ernst Henne, the ultimate pre-war speed demon, and the supercharged BMW WR750 which was so devastatingly fast|
|Joe Wright aboard the OEC-Temple-JAP on which he took Henne's record at Arpajon in 1930.|
|Click on this image to see a video of Joe Wright at Cork, Ireland, in 1930, aboard the OEC-Temple-JAP and Zenith-JAP on which he took the World Speed Record at 150mph|
|Piero Taruffi and the wingless aircraft which hid the Gilera Rondine; good enough for 170mph in 1937|
[Below is a fantastic '5 minutes' with Piero Taruffi and the Gilera Rondine]
The BMW factory, by contrast, worked from a fresh sheet of paper, ultimately designing the RS255 engine for modern racing, integrating a blower to the engine castings, and developing this OHC flat-twin 500cc racer to win both the Isle of Man TT by 1939, and take the ultimate pre-war World Speed Record by 1937, at 173.68mph, which stood for 14 years. The BMW had half the engine capacity of its rivals from England (although the same capacity as the Gilera, which was only 3mph slower), but had the advantage of a modern factory and a team of talented engineers to build this superb machine from scratch. The BMW record-breakers were equally the product of passionate engineers, and are equally masterpieces of speed-inspired design. Amazingly, the BMW and Gilera record-breakers also survive, and all can be enjoyed in person, if you're lucky enough to encounter them. In the past two years, for example the Joe Wright blown Zenith-JAP and OEC-Temple-JAP could be seen at the Vintage Revival Montlhéry, as well as the Concorso di Villa d'Este, where one could also see the BMW WR750 and Gilera Rondine in original condition, and a rebuilt RS255 streamliner ('Henne's Egg'). These machines are reason enough to attend such events, as they leave a lasting impression as the pinnacle of the Golden Age of Supercharging.
[Below is a nice montage of BMW speed records of the 1930s]