Corporate History

Top performance in suspension technology.

Corporate History

BILSTEIN – Innovative Technologies “Made in Germany”

When August Bilstein laid the foundations for BILSTEIN in 1873, nobody had any idea of the crucial influence the company’s products would one day have on the driving comfort and safety of vehicles. Instead it was metal window fittings – sold under the catchy name of AUBI, an abbreviation of August Bilstein – that soon made the company famous far beyond the boundaries of Bilstein’s local region in Germany.
A whole series of technical innovations followed and the revenues earned through these patents provided a solid basis for the later successes of what was still a young company. In order to meet the exacting quality demands already in the preliminary stage of manufacturing the fittings, the company set up its own strip iron rolling mill in 1919.  It was around this time that Hans Bilstein, August Bilstein’s son, returned from the USA to take over the company from his father, bringing with him new concepts for nickel- and chrome-plating processes.

Entry into the world of the automobile: 1928 to 1954

In 1927, thanks to the technical inspirations gained in America, Hans Bilstein made the first move towards the automotive accessories industry through his co-operation with the Berlin-based lifting gear company Levator-Hebezeug-Fabrik. He did not have to wait long to see his activities bear fruit.
In 1928, four years before the opening of the motorway between Cologne and Bonn, BILSTEIN supplied the first chrome-plated bumpers for mass-produced cars. Just one year later the company began producing car jacks. In typical BILSTEIN style, it entered this market with a resounding technical innovation, introducing the first usable side jack to a world that was only slowly getting used to the car. But the true world sensation was still to come.

Innovative inventions

In 1954, BILSTEIN was the first to realize the potential offered by an idea of Prof. Bourcier de Carbon, a French researcher in the field of vibrations. The aim was to eliminate the physical disadvantages of the conventional telescopic shock absorbers, while at the same time making the dampers lighter and capable of being installed in any position.
Enormous effort went into development, accompanied by substantial investment in the necessary production facilities, in order to achieve this ambitious target. And it paid off. The introduction of the first monotube gas pressure shock absorber in a standard production Mercedes-Benz vehicle is still today considered a major contribution to active driving safety.
Gas pressure technology is now used in all types of telescope shock absorbers developed for use on powerful, high-end cars. One of BILSTEIN’s latest technology highlights is the development of the air spring module that BILSTEIN supplies ‘just in sequence’ to the Mercedes S-Class production line.
To this day, the demands from its customers in the automotive industry, combined with its commitment to motorsports, are what drive development and innovation at BILSTEIN. All AMG Mercedes in the DTM and over half of the teams in the 24 hour race on the Nürburgring approach the starting line with BILSTEIN products.
The name BILSTEIN has, for many decades, been closely associated with high technology in the field of suspension design, driving comfort and safety. In order to position themselves for future growth and innovation, BILSTEIN became a division of ThyssenKrupp Technologies AG in 1988 and a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2005. The partnership and co-operation within the group enables the company to continue to inspire with innovations in the traditional BILSTEIN way.

Vehicle manufacturers place their trust in BILSTEIN products in all segments, because the suspension experts from Ennepetal know how to individually adjust the suspension requirements and driving dynamic qualities of every model. No matter whether series replacement or the sporty optimization of the handling is concerned, BILSTEIN applies its high-quality products to all vehicle classes specially customized to the intended purpose of each vehicle, from use in everyday situations to the race track and rough terrain. In some special applications in the premium segment, vehicles are equipped with state-of-the-art shock absorbers, such as the BILSTEIN DampMatic and air spring systems to combine driving safety with the best possible comfort and plenty of sportiness in the ideal manner. The carmakers’ increasingly more complex specification sheets are the driving force behind product development and the ability to innovate at BILSTEIN. The close interlinking of our own development work with that of the customer is an important chapter in the BILSTEIN success story, because only through an intensive exchange of ideas and experiences on many different levels is it possible to actively incorporate the customer’s requirements into the further development of the products.

Entry into motorsport

BILSTEIN’s success in motorsport began 50 years ago when Mercedes-Benz first installed BLSTEIN gas pressure shock absorbers into a vehicle raced at the Monte Carlo Rally, which they won on their first attempt. Ever since, motorsport without BILSTEIN would be unthinkable. From off-road and rally world championships to titles at most of the important 24-hour races to championships in Formula 1, BILSTEIN continues to lead the field.
The list of the drivers who have gone down in motorsport history while racing on BILSTEIN products is as long as it is fascinating. Racing sport legends Dale Earnhardt, Ivan “Ironman” Stewart, Sterling Marlin, Klaus Ludwig, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Walter Röhrl celebrated their greatest successes with BILSTEIN. In 2012, the company celebrated a very special victory at the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring when three racing teams equipped with BILSTEIN technology landed on the podium.

Comprehensive product portfolio

BILSTEIN offers the industry’s widest range of damper products. Be it off-road/light truck, tuning, OE replacement, heavy duty or motorsports, BILSTEIN is your one stop shop. BILSTEIN leverages its long involvement in motorsports and its years of being an OEM supplier to the words leading automotive brands to bring you the highest quality, best performing dampers. The BILSTEIN road test is a unique aspect of the development process that guarantees every sport and coilover suspension has been put to the test at the company’s own test circuit in Papenburg or at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Uncompromising quality and top performance are the goal of every BILSTEIN application. Made in Germany and North America.

BILSTEIN – partner to the automotive industry

The technical knowledge gained over the course of 140 years is the basis of BILSTEIN’s success. BILSTEIN is only too pleased to pass on its leading suspension know-how and expertize to smaller automotive businesses. As a premier partner to workshops, training centers, tuning specialists and dealers, training programs that are suitable for every target group are available through the BILSTEIN Academy. BILSTEIN high tech suspension technology has been very closely linked with high demands of driving dynamics, driving safety and comfort for decades now, and the company is in a good position to further expand this status in the decades to come. What began as a family company in 1873, BILSTEIN is now 100% a thyssenkrupp subsidiary.

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