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The BMW Concept Coupe Mille Miglia 2006 - The BMW 328

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The BMW Concept Coupe Mille Miglia 2006
Tradition, Competence, Visions
Successes for eternity
The BMW 328
History made tangible
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The BMW 328: Forerunner of modern motor sports.
Agility, acceleration ability, reliability and lightness. The constructors of the BMW 328 concentrated on the essential and thus opened up a new era in motor sports. At a time when highly tuned compressor racers dominated the racing scene, the merely 830 kilogramme and, in the series version only 80 PS powerful BMW 328 Roadster was a sensation. Because it put the large, powerful and heavy competitors way behind, thus becoming the forerunner of modern motor sports in which only the connection of power with maximum efficiency leads to success. 70 years ago, on 14 June 1936, the BMW 328 with the legendary Ernst Henne at the wheel won its first race, on the Nürburgring. More than 200 additional victories were to follow up into the 50’s – a success story that was unique up to then for a vehicle of this class. Hardly any other model has distinguished a company in motor sporting history as the BMW 328 with its 2-litre six-cylinder in-line engine.

The BMW Group Mobile Tradition has groomed this legend up to today with special devotion: not only in its workshops and exhibition halls but regularly also with appearances at historic races, where the BMW 328 as a roadster as well as in the Coupé style still continues to attract admiring looks from automobile lovers. The BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé has won a place of honour in the collection since 2002. Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Bäumer won the Mille Miglia with this vehicle in 1940.

BMW in motor sports: Success right from the start.
Motor sports have set the tone of BMW’s history right from the start. Following the great successes on two wheels, the constructors were able to get an early start on ensuring attention during automobile races. The very first entry during the alpine route in 1929 ended with a convincing team victory for Max Buchner, Albert Kandt and Wilhelm Wagner in their BMW 3/15 PS, powered by a four-cylinder engine. Numerous victories after that quickly let the brand become well-known, so four years later the thrust into the six-cylinder class was watched with excitement. The new six-cylinder in-line engine proved its predestination for motor sports with its performance and revving ability, its slight weight and its reliability. Accompanied by additional racing victories, the power of this machine grew until 1934 to 55 PS with its displacement expanded in the meantime from 1.5 to 1.9 litres. The BMW 319/1 Roadster equipped with this engine won, among others, the 1936 alpine circuit.
But during the triangle race in Munich it was relegated to second place: by a BMW 328, the brand’s new sports car, which thus dethroned its predecessor and started an unprecedented string of victories. Already in June of 1936, Ernst Henne clearly won the Eiffel race in the Nürburgring with this totally new design of a two-seater. Another 130 victories came on top of that up to 1940.

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Outstanding power source: The six-cylinder in-line engine.
With a top speed of 150 km/h, the BMW 328 already advanced to the second fastest car in Germany in 1936, following the Mercedes compressor model. But things didn’t stop there. The engine power quickly grew to over 100 PS. As special racing fuel finally became available, the six-cylinder in-line engine even managed to produce 136 PS. As far back as 1938, the BMW 328 was able to make its first glittering appearance during the Mille Miglia. The two-seater roadster took first place in the two-litre class. The climax followed in 1940: during the first and only Mille Miglia to take place on a high-speed course, “racing baron” Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and his co-pilot Walter Bäumer secured total victory with more than a quarter hour lead. Their car reached a top speed of 220 km/h. With an average speed of 166.7 km/h, the Mille Miglia victor set a record that has remained ever since.

Huschke von Hanstein and Bäumer won their spectacular victory in a very special BMW 328. Both the open two-seater and the closed variation, initially fabricated in Munich, impressed through their advantageous performance weight. But an even lighter Coupé was needed for the race in Le Mans in 1939 and Brescia in 1940. The order was awarded to the Milan bodywork forgery Touring. Of all companies, it was the “house tailor” of the largest competitor of back then, Alfa Romeo, and they gave the small BMW an aluminium body which turned out to be just as streamlined as it was light. A victorious automobile was born. With its lattice frames and the “superleggera” chassis, the ready-to-drive Coupé weighed a mere 780 kilograms.

BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé: Victory run and odyssey.
The victory run during the Mille Miglia was to temporarily remain the last public appearance of the Touring Coupé. The traces of the vehicle were initially lost in the war confusion of the subsequent years. In 1945, the BMW re-emerged. The former BMW engineer Claus von Rücker discovered a badly demolished Coupé after an accident. He managed to acquire the car from the US occupation forces and to rebuild it. At the end of 1947, von Rücker emigrated to Canada, where he sold the BMW 328 to the photographer and race driver Robert Grier. Grier drove several races with the Coupé and following his death in the middle of the 50’s the BMW stayed hidden in a garage for about 30 years in the small town of Wallingford/Connecticut. It was only in the middle of the 80’s that the Californian collector Jim Proffit’s attention was drawn to the rarity. After intensive restoration, Proffit participated in several historic car races with the BMW. Already back then, he made the determination to return the only car of its time back to Germany. Things progressed that far in 2002: after long negotiations, Proffit and the BMW Group Mobile Tradition agreed to transfer the Coupé to Munich. The BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé is now a showpiece in the Mobile Tradition collection.

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Between 1936 and the summer of 1940, 464 type BMW 328 vehicles emerged. Many of them are still being used in historic races. The BMW Group Mobile Tradition also regularly takes the vehicles in its collection to the starting line – often with prominent drivers sitting at the wheel. For instance, the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustav started together with Leopold Prinz von Bayern in a BMW 328 Touring Roadster during the new version of the Mille Miglia, held as a consistency run. In 2004, a special success was added to the more than 200 racing victories achieved up into the 50’s with the BMW 328. With the 1940 victory vehicle, Giuliano Cané managed together with his co-driver and wife Lucia Galliani the feat of winning the Mille Miglia even under the new regulations. Since then, the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé is the first vehicle that could roll over the finish line as the victor in both the classical races as well as in the new version of the Mille Miglia.


Last Updated on Sunday, 04 June 2006 10:47  
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