Alex von Falkenhausen

22/5/1907 - 28/5/1989

Record updated

A respected engineer with BMW both before the war and after, von Falkenhausen is also remembered for his own AFM cars which were successful in numerous national races in Germany in the immediate postwar period when that country was banned from racing outside its borders.

Alex von Falkenhausen
The name of Alexander Heinrich Ludwig Richard Freiherr von Falkenhausen first appears in the results of German motorcycle races in the 1920s, and in a minor sportscar race on a Munich circuit it 1936, when he took second place - inevitably in a BMW. His work as an experimental engineer for the Munich company, especially on the famous 328 sportscar, kept him away from the circuits, and then came war, when he was put in charge of motorycle development work.

Von Falkenhausen was one of the first German drivers to take up racing again after the war, winning a race on an autobahn circuit outside Karlsrühe in 1946, and another on the Hockenheim motorcycle circuit the followiing year. He then rebuilt the BMW 328 he had been racing and called it the AFM (Alex von Falkenhausen Motorenbau). After several placings that year he was unbeaten in 1948 races in the 1500 sportscar class, winning the national championship.

The next step was Formula 2, and a new single-seater AFM, which brought him a couple of placings and one win in 1949 German F2 events. At the same time he produced an 1100cc Fiat-powered sportscar which he took to many placings over the next couple of years but other drivers - notably pre-war Grand Prix ace Hans Stuck and up-and-coming Willy Heeks - were more successful in the F2 class.

By the time the international motor-racing community accepted Germany back into its ranks the AFM project was becoming overshadowed by German rivals Veritas, and by imported cars such as Ferraris and Gordinis.

The war had left the BMW car factory in the eastern zone, but the company was now preparing to expand its Munich motorcycle operation to resume car production, and in 1953 von Falkenhausen was back on the payroll. He was able to build up a winning motorcycle-racing team but it was some years before the company set up a four-wheel-competition department, on which the former AFM man served as technical driector. Domination of touring-car racing followed, together with success in Formula 2 through association first with Lola and eventually with March.

Alex von Falkenhausen retired in 1975, handing over to Paul Rosche. His daughter Juliane had married BMW driver Dieter Quester in 1966.

David McKinney