Formerly in the collection of Dr. Frederick A. Simeone
1937 BMW 328 ROADSTER
Chassis no. 85095
Engine no. 85095
1,971cc OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
3 Solex Downdraft Carburetors
80bhp at 5,000rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Front Independent Suspension - Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
*Formerly part of the Dr. Frederick A. Simeone Collection
*Ground up restoration by Blackhorse Garage
*Complete engine rebuild by Stanton Engineering
*One of only 463 built
*Mille Miglia eligible
THE BMW 328
"The BMW 328 is legendary. It is acknowledged by car enthusiasts all over the world as having a special pedigree, presence and uniqueness. It is definitely among the most attractive, successful, and influential sports cars ever built." - Rainer Simons, BMW 328: From Roadster to Legend
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 June 14th, 1936, when Ernst Henne beat a field that included 1½-liter 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.
It had been the acquisition of the Dixi works at Eisenach in 1928 that provided BMW, hitherto a manufacturer of aero engines and motorcycles, with a foothold in car manufacturing. Dixi's built-under-license version of the Austin Seven was gradually developed and improved, ending up with swing-axle suspension and overhead valves, and then in 1933 came the first true BMW - the six-cylinder 303. The latter adopted a twin-tube frame and abandoned the rear swing axles in favor of a conventional live axle, while up front there was a superior transverse-leaf independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. These features, along with the four-bearing, overhead-valve engine, would provide the basis for the more powerful and sportingly inclined models to follow.
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-liter 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 aluminum 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 top, and were well equipped and very comfortable in the manner of the best Grands Routiers. 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 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. Between 1936 and 1939 only 426 BMW 328s were made, of which fewer than 200 are believed to exist today.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
Chassis 85095 is understood to have been completed on June 26th, 1937 and was delivered in chassis form via agent Automag, Buchner and Linse. It is believed that they sent the car to the coachbuilders Ludwig Weinberger, also of BMW's home city of Munich, to receive the bodywork it wears to this day. Perhaps best known in this country as the house that bodied the Bugatti Royale that lives in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Weinberger were one of a handful of coachbuilders beyond the factory itself to body these cars. Their steel roadster bodies on 328 were slightly broader and therefore allowed for a more commodious driving compartment, a factor which today improves their usability.
After the war, the 328 is understood to have spent some time in government storage until being sold in the 1960s. It would migrate to this country through noted dealer and historian Martin Schroeder into the hands of one of the hobby's best known and admired collectors, Dr. Frederick Simeone of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This would be one of a few examples of the model that Dr. Simeone would own, and he as others commend their modernity and usability. As with all collecting, sometimes cars have to be exchanged to improve or refine a collection, and it was for this reason that 85095 eventually left Dr. Simeone's famed stable.
The 328 would then pass to another noted North American collector, before arriving in the present owner's hands some four years ago. In this ownership, a comprehensive ground up restoration was undertaken by noted East Coast restorers Blackhorse Garage of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The work saw the car stripped down to base and the bodywork professionally restored, almost certainly for the first time in its life. At this point the decision was made to fit a postwar transmission to assist its usability, although the original unit was retained and comes with the car. This exhaustively visually documented exercise resulted in the absolutely stunning presentation in which the car can be found today.
By 2013, the car finally emerged from restoration ready to be campaigned and enjoyed. Necessary technical documents were completed and the 328 was entered on the Mille Miglia. Sadly the car failed to complete the rally, as a minor technical glitch caused its retirement. Following the Mille Miglia, the BMW was shipped to the UK where some of the best expertise in 328 engines can be found. Its motor was professionally rebuilt by acknowledged experts Stanton Engineering, the 328 then being handed over to equally renowned engineer Patrick Blakeney-Edwards for set up and "dialing in".
Now in stunning cosmetic condition, and having been mechanically sorted by some of the best talent in the UK, this 328 offers an eminently usable entry for not only the Mille Miglia, but the host of retrospectives of the same age requirements.
- Please note that the engine is unstamped, but is of the correct 2 litter type. Furthermore; its title is in transit.