BMWs That Will Be Missed: BMW 328

BMW 328 9 photos
Photo: BMW
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Looking for the beginning of BMW's racing history, you'll end up somewhere before the Second First World War at the 315 and 328 models. These were the cars that brought both fame and success for the BMW brand in the motorsport world.
The 328 was a compact 2-seater based on the 315 model. The problem with its predecessor was that its engine was too small for the size of the car. The 1.5-liter engine had only 40 HP at the beginning and the car was extremely slow and loud.

In 1936 the 328 was introduced to the public. It was exquisite and innovative, as all BMW models are when they are released. It was created by Fritz Fiedler, even though some claim that the one responsible for the 328 was Peter Szymanowski, the BMW chief of design after World War II. However, Szymanowski only started the development of the car but Fiedler actually finished it.

The car was ultra-lightweight for its time and had a 2-liter straight-6 engine with rear-wheel-drive, in the purest of BMW fashion. It had a Solex carburetor and the total output was 80 HP at 5,000 RPM. A ZF 4-speed transmission made sure the car had a top speed of 150 km/h.

The 328 was mostly used for racing purposes. In its short life-span only 426 units were built and most were used in racing events. Weighing only 830 kg (1,830 lbs) due to its aluminum body and steel ladder frame, the car was extremely fast around the bends and won many racing events.

The first victory for the 328 was recorded in 1936 at the Eifelrennen Race on the Nurburgring. After that many more victories were recorded in world class events like the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Le mans and Mille Miglia where it succeeded in maintaining an average speed of 166.7 km/h (103.6 mph), and it was all in 1940.

The 328 was available as a roadster or a cabriolet. However, many custom designers took a shot at creating special interiors for the cabriolet versions, many of which were extremely luxurious. Designers like Wendler and Drauz, Glaeser and Figoni  et Falaschi Carrosserie all did custom 328 interiors that had the most exquisite materials.

Today around half of the 426 units ever made are supposed to be in existence. However, the 328's legacy lived on through BMW's post-war cars and even some British car manufacturers like Bristol and AC that created cars such as Cooper Bristol's Formula 2 racers.
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