Left-hand drive 1939 BMW 328 Roadster Re-creation Chassis no. 85345RC (see text)
BMW's emergence as a manufacturer of fine sporting motor cars can be traced back to the annual Eifelrennen event held at the Nürburgring on 14th June 1936, when Ernst Henne beat a field that included 1½-litre monoposto racing cars driving the prototype of what would become one of the most iconic sports cars of all time the legendary '328'. The fact that this overwhelming victory had been achieved only eight years after BMW's establishment as an automobile manufacturer is all the more remarkable.
Lacking the resources of larger and longer established rivals, BMW adopted an evolutionary, 'mix and match' approach to model development. Thus the 328 employed the tubular chassis, transverse-leaf independent front suspension and live rear axle of the 319; the cylinder block and hydraulic brakes of the 326; and a body incorporating stylistic elements of the 319/1 Sport and 329. With the 328, BMW's Chief Engineer Fritz Fiedler turned accepted chassis design on its head, coming up with a frame that combined lightness and stiffness in equal measure - virtues that permitted the use of relatively soft springing with all its attendant advantages. In short: the 328 was the first truly modern sports car.
The 328's six-cylinder engine featured an ingenious new cylinder head, designed by Rudolf Schleicher, which incorporated hemispherical combustion chambers and inclined valves without recourse to overhead, or twin camshafts. Instead, the Type 326, 1,971cc engine's single, block-mounted camshaft and pushrod valve actuation were retained, thus avoiding an expensive redesign. Two rocker shafts were employed, one situated above each bank of valves, giving the engine an external appearance almost indistinguishable from that of a twin-overhead-cam design. Down-draught inlet ports contributed to the motor's deep breathing, and its tune-ability made it a popular choice for British racing car constructors, most notably Cooper, during the 1950s. The 328 engine produced 80bhp, an exemplary output for a normally aspirated 2.0-litre unit at that time, with more available in race trim.
The two door-less 328 prototypes and the first batch of cars were lightweight racers with aluminium coachwork intended to establish the model's competition credentials before production proper got under way. Available from the late summer of 1936, the production 328s featured doors and a convertible hood, and were well equipped and very comfortable in the manner of the best Grandes Routières. On the racetrack the 328 reigned supreme, winning its class at the Mille Miglia, Le Mans, Spa 24 Hours and Britain's Tourist Trophy. In 1940 an example fitted with special aerodynamic bodywork won the Mille Miglia outright. The most advanced sports car of its day, the BMW 328 remained competitive for years after the war, a state of affairs that only served to further enhance its reputation, which was out of all proportion to the limited number produced. Indeed, it is generally regarded as one of the very few pre-war models that drives like a post-war car. Between 1936 and 1939 only 426 were made, of which fewer than 200 are believed to exist today.
In 2007 the current owner bought it and registered it in the Netherlands. He decided to undertake a restoration of the car which was carried out with no expense spared by Oldtimersmelt in Rijssen, Netherlands. An extensive and detailed photographic record of the rebuild is available and the car also comes with Netherlands registration papers.
It had been assumed that the car was an original 328; however, the existence of another with the same chassis number means that it must be regarded as a re-creation, albeit an exceptionally good one. The origin of the chassis is not known and it should also be noted that the gearbox, cylinder head and rear axle are of Bristol manufacture, the British company having acquired the rights to BMW's designs after WW2.
Recently completed following hundreds of man-hours spent on its careful execution, this beautiful car represents an exciting opportunity to acquire a faithful re-creation of BMW's legendary 328 at a fraction of the cost of a genuine example.