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|Frazer Nash BMW 328|
Peter Bradfield Ltd
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|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 14th June 1936, when Ernst Henne beat a field that included 1½-litre 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. |
Lacking the resources of their larger and longer established rivals, BMW had adopted a '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-litre 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 aluminium 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 hood, 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.
In late 1934, AFN Ltd concluded an agreement with BMW for the importation of their cars into the UK where they were sold as Frazer Nash-BMWs, some with coachwork by British firms and others with German-made bodies. According to the Frazer Nash archives, chassis number '85034' was supplied to one of AFN's existing customer, T W Meikle of Perth, Scotland. One of the first Frazer Nash-BMW 328 roadsters to reach Britain, the car was registered 'GS 7431' by Perthshire County Council on 14th August 1937. The 328 had covered only 338 miles when a severe accident, possibly suffered while racing, saw it returned to AFN Ltd for repairs on 12th December 1937, after which it was sold to C G Buisk Esq of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The car's next known keeper is the famous Liverpudlian garage-owner-turned-racer Gilbert 'Gillie' Tyrer, who acquired it in September 1945 for £1,500, more than double its 1937 list price. Tyrer noted that '85034' had covered 13,000 miles and was in excellent condition, adding: 'Following my SS100 3.5 Litre the BMW was considered GOOD. On collection Max 92mph, eventually 101mph.'
For the next 18-or-so months Tyrer campaigned '85034' in a wide variety of events including sprints, hill climbs, trials and rallies throughout Britain, collecting numerous prizes. Having acquired a lower-mileage 328 ('85301', the 1938 Earls Court Motor Show car) Tyrer sold '85034' to H Merryweather of Bailey Electroplaters Ltd, Salford during the summer of 1947. Over the course of the next ten years the 328 changed hands on three occasions (owners' details on file) and had been stripped to component form by the time it was inherited by the last one's daughter, from whom it was purchased circa 1970 by Frazer Nash specialist, Nigel Stoyel of Sheldon, Devon.
In 1996 Stoyel was commissioned to restore '85034' to its former glory by the late Anthony Harper of Bleadon, Somerset. Painstakingly reassembled, the car retains matching chassis and engine numbers while benefiting from various new body panels, ancillaries, etc. '85034' has the ZF AK-S15 gearbox as fitted to early examples and the correct serpentine oil cooler. Upgrades comprise a RR53 Hiduminium alloy cylinder head (of the type available from 1939 onwards), triple SU carburettor conversion (a period Frazer Nash modification), Veigel 'mph' speedometer and drilled disc wheels.
The immediately preceding owner, BMW aficionado Julian Bittleston, acquired the Frazer Nash-BMW 328 when it was sold by Anthony Harper's estate in 2007, joining his more competition biased Type 328. The current owner purchased '85034' from Mr Bittleston in 2008, since when its use has been confined to participation in the Mitiche Sport a Bassano Rally in the Italian Dolomites, an event reserved for pre- and post-war barchetta-style cars.
This rare Frazer Nash BMW is offered with an authenticity report that was carried out in January 2012 by John Giles, known for his lengthy association with TT Workshops and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards of Blakeney Motorsport. The report goes into detail as to which components of the coachwork are original and which were replaced during restoration. There is a high degree of originality in the body and significantly all the panels that were removed during the restoration have since been acquired by the owner and are included in the sale. This is a matching number car with a period competition history that has benefited from a comprehensive restoration and retained its integrity.
Generally regarded as one of the very few pre-war models that drives like a post-war car, the BMW 328 is eligible for all the most important historic events including the Mille Miglia, Nürburgring Oldtimer GP and Le Mans Classic.
Sold on the 26.11.2012
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