Its a Real BMW 328 Roadster or Nothing

Its a Real BMW 328 Roadster or Nothing

Article by Terry S Vostor

Barely a few generations have passed since motor cars appeared on the roads and highways of the world. It really was not that long ago in millennium that the first petrol engines shakily announced their arrivals. Every once in a while a ground breaking enterprise arrives on the scene to change motoring and auto styling history forever. One such page turner was the pre-war 1930’s era BMW 328 roadster.

A single-plane clutch took the drive to a four-speed gearbox, and thence to an open propeller shaft to the spiral-bevel rear axle. An oil-cooler was provided, mounted just ahead of the radiator in two parts to match the two halves of the “kidney” front grill. and there was a full undertray beneath the car. The side members of the chassis , were not simple tubes, having been fabricated from sheet steel so that their diameter varied in accordance with the the load at each point. A welded box carried the transverse leaf spring, lower wishbones and telescopic dampers of the front suspension assembly with its rack and pinion steering and the live rear axle was mounted on long semi-elliptic leaf springs. The hydraulic brakes had 11 inch ( 28 cm) drums and the perforated pressed-steel disc wheels were fitted to peg-drive hubs, with central locking nuts. The 1938 Mille Miglia had been the occasion of a disastrous accident when a competing car ran into a crowd killing 9 spectators. For this reason Mussolini declared that the race was not to be run again. However the organizers arranged for the race to be held again -officially as the Coppa Brescia – over a 100 mile ( 161 km) closed circuit instead of the traditional 1000 miles (`609 km) of open road. The race distance totaled 923 miles ( 1485 km). Astonishingly it was held more than seven months after World War 2 actually began, on the date of the 28 April 1940, for Italy was still a neutral country at that time- not yet officially at war. There is little doubt about reading and evaluating this vehicle’s technical specifications and prowess . It was eons ahead of any other automotive products on the market in its time frame and era. It was “Star Trek” of the road – light years ahead of anything else no doubt.

The company called Bayerische Motoren-Werke, or BMW, was not known for creating cars. When it originally started operations during the First World War, they manufactured airplane engines. They were able to branch out quite successfully in the manufacture of motorcycles. There was a three-spoke steering wheel and instruments that included a speedometer, tachometer , oil and water temperature guages and an oil pressure gauge. The electrical system was 6 volt. The semi-bucket seats were made of leather, and there was a one-shot chassis hydraulic system actuated by a separate pedal. One of the weaker points of the BMW Type 328 was the gear change , for there was a synchromesh only on third and top whilst instead of a proper remote control there was a rather long gear-lever. They modified a simple car called the Austin Seven. BMW tinkered with some Dixi models like the Warburg. This was when the company was first recognized for their development of Dixi sports models in the Austrian Alpine Trial of 1929.

Even now, more than half a century of time later , the Type 328 is so close to the most modern and futuristic ideas of auto body shape and advanced designs that it is almost impossible to imagine the great impacts it made when it first appeared on the automotive scene – looking like a UFO alien among its contemporaries. BMW made special preparations for the race , entering five cars which were extensively lightened and fitted with highly-tuned engines giving 135 bhp at 5500 rpm on a 9:6:1 compression ratio. Three were roadsters, on a coupe built under Fiedler’s supervision in Germany, and yet another coupe was built by BMW by none other than Touring of Milan. The focus this newcomer was to develop six cylinder cars. His foremost work was the Type 515 which had increased power of up to 34 bhp and a larger engine. The Type 319/1 added to the successes of its predecessor in rallies and speed events attracting the attention of the Aldington brothers at Isleworth. They brought some of their engines to install in their “chain-gang” Frazer Nashes and then asked permission to market the sports BMWs in England. These cars were built in Germany specifically for the British marketplace and even had right hand drive installed. Others were supplied in chassis form only to be bodied in England and were fitted with wire wheels to suit the unique British preferences often peculiarly distinct from those of the “continent”. Noticeably, the car has tubular chassis which are and separate from the suspension. Another revolutionary aspect of the car was the rack-and-pinion steering. This feature upgraded the standards of road holding and handling. Despite being unusual for that period, the six-cylinder engine gave the car a power boost that ensured the maximum speed of about a hundred miles per hour. There was no boot-lid access to the luggage compartment being made by folding the seat squab forward. The leather bonnet straps – paired and fitted with spring fasteners – were standard equipment and the Vee-shaped windscreen was split in the middle so that it could be folded down on the scuttle. There was a five-seater saloon which steered away from the typical fast, high performing sports cars that the public was used to. This was the Type 326. The BMW 326 also had a powerful six-cylinder engine that produced 50bhp. Although it wasn’t a sports car, it still carried the BMW brand.

Aside from sports cars, the company also designed models for drivers who were not aficionados of car racing. Nonetheless; it was also a best seller. When it came time for racing season once more, the company got back to the drawing boards to create a more modern version of sports cars they were famous for. Fiedler was tasked to create a machine that had a capacity of 80 bhp at 5,000 rpm. New technology allowed for more hemispherical combustion chambers. This was in the new alloy head with tilted valves. The Type 328 was born. It had a completely different set of hydraulic brakes and suspension. A box-section chassis was also used for this vehicle. It took 50bhp to drive the five-seater saloon. Nevertheless, when it came time for the Eifel races on June 14, 1936 BMW reverted to their popular sports car designs. At the Berlin Motor Show in February 1936 it seemed Fiedler and his assistant Rudolf Schleicher were moving away from sporting cars , for the new Type 326 had a box-section chassis with completely brand new suspension and hydraulic brakes . With a 1 mm bore increase the six-cylinder engine was enlarged to 1971 cc and had a power output of 50 bhp sy 4500 rpm to propel this five-seater salon . Certainly no sport-car it was no doubt the best selling BMW of its very day. The crankshaft, running in a lead-bronze bearings had a vibration damper at its forward end and a pulley driving the dynamo and water pump by a vee-belt. A mechanical fuel pump on the nearside was driven from the rear end of the camshaft which also drove the distributor from a skew gear at its center , via a long vertical spindle.

About the Author

Terry S. VostorPitt Meadows Langley BC Used Toyota Langley Used Corollas 2010

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