From luxurious tourer to drag strip flyer.
The Supermarine Spitfire was the backbone of Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II. Powered by a liquid-cooled, 12-cylinder, Rolls-Royce P-12 engine, the plane functioned as a short-range interceptor. Following the war, the Spitfire epitomised the engineering and strategic excellence of the WWII era. That exceptionalism led Swiss custom shop VTR Customs to model its BMW R 1200 R dragster after the legendary warplane.
The project started when watchmaker TW Steel and BMW Motorrad commissioned VTR to create a custom Beemer to celebrate TWS’s new Sons of Time wristwatch. Influenced by the vintage-styled timepiece, VTR CEO Dani Weidmann turned to the Supermarine Spitfire for further inspiration. The streamlined form and throwback styling merged the project's form and function, but the VTR team had its work cut out for it.
Gallery: VTR Customs Spitfire: 2017 BMW R 1200 R
To turn the luxurious sport-tourer into a drag strip flyer, the shop had to break down its 2017 BMW R 1200 R and rebuild it from the ground up. Weidmann tuned the 1,170cc boxer powerplant for racing before adding a nitrous-oxide system for extra pep. The result was 170 bhp at the back wheel. Aside from adding muscle, Weidmann also trimmed the fat, reducing the R 1200 R to about 200 kg.
The addition of launch mode, wheelie control, and a quickshifter also equipped the Spitfire-inspired build for the drag strip. Of course, VTR expected its dragster to take a few checkered flags and they knew they had to celebrate in style. So, Weidmann outfitted the custom exhaust system to shoot almost 3-metre flames with the flip of a switch in the cockpit.
Even with the flame-throwing exhaust, the Spitfire’s bodywork steals the show. The Royal Air Force created numerous variants of the Spitfire, including a camouflage livery and a shark mouth paint scheme. However, Weidmann opted for the polished aluminium finish for the BMW R 1200 R. Consisting of various panels and rivets, the fairings accurately captured the wartime aircraft aesthetic. From the bull’s eye stickers to the faux exhaust ports near the nose, the team artfully adapted the plane’s form at every turn.
Piloted by BMW Motorrad Custom Race Team member Amelie Mooseder, the VTR Spitfire competed at Italy’s Monza, France’s Montlhery, and Germany's Glemseck motorcycle festival. The team also ran the Sultans of Sprint series in 2018 and 2019. Primarily functioning as a race machine, the R 1200 R only has 93 miles on its odometer and the custom build is on sale by VTR for $89,000. While we may never get our hands on a true Submarine Spitfire, the VTR Custom BMW R 1200 R might be a suitable substitute.