Beetle Power – 1964 “VMW” Willis 4

In America, Germany, Standard by Abhi3 Comments

We start off this listing by apologizing for the picture quality, but this bike is just too interesting not to share. In the 1960’s, two men named Jack Pruett and Bruce Butterfield owned a motorcycle dealership named Jack’s in Fresno, California. The two combined forces with a Mr. Willis and built adapters that allowed them to put VW 1600cc 4-cylinder car engines into BMW /2 frames. Utilizing the gearbox, swingarm, and driveshaft from the /2, this created a silly fast bike that was formally known as the Butterfield-4, but affectionately known as VMW, or BMVW.

VMW Willis 4 - Right Side

Legal issues forced a split between the parties, but most people now know these bikes as the Willis 4. Willis would build the bike for you, or sell you a kit to make it yourself. Production numbers vary wildly, but our best guess is that about 100 bikes were sold. By all accounts, the craftsmanship of this bike was excellent, though there were some issues with the clutch disc. But the biggest problem for the Willis 4 was actually BMW themselves, who soon released the /5. A vast improvement over the /2, the /5 was too tempting for buyers to pass up. After all, it was a bike with more power, lots of upgrades, and…a warranty with financing.

VMW Willis 4 - Engine

This specific Willis 4 was restored in 2003, and has since sat in an office, never ridden. That presents one of our two main concerns – this will probably need new gaskets and other rubber items, and maybe even other small pieces depending on how it was stored. The other concern? They replaced the original tank with a Harley unit, which doesn’t work for our aesthetic tastes. Buy this beauty, give it a mechanical refresher, and source an original /2 tank. You’ll have a bike that will confuse everyone.

VMW Willis 4 - Rear Left

Find this Willis 4 for sale here on Craigslist for $15,000 in Fresno, California.