First buy the BMW company, then you may get to drive a 328 Mille Miglia – if you ask very nicely. This stupendous vehicle now lives in the company museum and was the culmination of the Bavarian Motor Works’ effort to produce the finest sports car of the 1930s.
Many believe they succeeded, with the 328 series achieving glory on the track and prestige on the road in that feverish world where successful sports and racing cars were often one and the same.
The technically advanced BMW 328 appeared in 1936, winning at the testing Nurburgring and proving virtually unbeatable in 2 litre class racing. With its elegantly cowled back wheels, long hood and distinctive dashboard the 328 was also a ‘must drive’ hit with lovers of fast, stylish cars. The compact two-seater roadster had a bonnet secured with leather straps that concealed the potent lightweight engine, and these examples were mostly assembled at the factory. However, there were cabriolet versions by outside coachbuilders, noted for their luxurious finish and elegant style.
Only six of the ultimate Mille Miglia model were ever assembled, three in Germany and three in Italy. This fabulous aluminum-bodied car was specifically designed to compete in the near-thousand-mile road race mid won the 2-liter class in 1938, before Baron von Kanstein won the 1940 event outright in his gleaming silver 328 – though not before one navigator refused to race after experiencing the Count’s manic driving. Just before the race ended, his replacement was surprised when the grateful von Kanstein changed places to allow his navigator the glory of driving over the winning line. Few can ever share those magical moments behind the wheel of a BMW 328 Mille Miglia, but there’s always an outside chance of piloting a regular 328 – around 425 of these fabulous machines were made and over 200 survive.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Germany
FIRST YEAR OF MANUFACTURE: 1936 (until 1940)
1,971 cc OHV Straight Six performance:
The race-winning 328 Mille Miglia of 1940 achieved a top speed of 139 mph (224 km/h).
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
There is a British element to this German success story – BMW sold the 328 in rolling chassis form to the British Frazer Nash company who added bodywork and sold it as the Frazer.