- 1938 Frazer Nash BMW 328
- Matching numbers
- 8th overall in 1938 Paris – Nice Trial
- 1of 46 Frazer Nash-BMWs known to survive
- The pre-eminent sports car of its day and an icon of motoring
In 1936, Ernst Henne drove his prototype BMW 328 to victory in the 2-litre class at the annual Eifelrennen event at the Nurburgring, beating a world-class field of entrants including several 1½ litre monopostos. This achievement put BMW on the map and the new 328 model would go on to be one of the most important in the company’s history and the iconic sports car of its age.
As BMW had only been manufacturing cars for 8 years and with only limited resources, the 328 came about more as an evolution of their range rather than a blank starting point. The 328 used the chassis, transverse leafspring independent front suspension and live rear axle from the 319 while the cylinder block and hydraulic brakes would come from the 326. The chassis was, however, hugely advanced; BMW’s chief engineer Fritz Fiedler created a masterpiece that was both stiff and light allowing for softer spring loads. It was clothed in a modern-looking sports body designed by Peter Szymanoski who would go on to become BMW’s chief of design after WWII.
At the heart of the car was a 6-cylinder engine that featured an ingenious new head designed by Rudolf Schleicher. This unit incorporated hemispherical combustion chambers and inclined valves without using overhead or twin camshafts. As mentioned, it used the old 326 engine with its block-mounted camshaft and pushrods but it used two rocker shafts to actuate the valves, one situated above each bank, giving the external impression of a twin overhead camshaft. This gave all the benefits but without the costly redesign of a whole engine. The engine gave a healthy output of 80hp at 5000rpm.
Its sporting credentials were soon being put to the test at racing events all over Europe and the 328 reigned supreme taking more than 100 classic wins in 1937 including the gruelling RAC Tourist Trophy. In 1938 it would repeat its class win in the RAC TT as well as class wins in the Alpine Rally and the Mille Miglia. In 1939 it would take the outright win in the RAC Rally as well as coming fifth overall and first in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Finally it would take the outright win in the Mille Miglia in 1940 with a special aerodynamic body as a final flourish before the war. A quite outstanding achievement and it is no wonder that these cars are so desired today.
Between 1936 – 1939 only 464 BMW 328s were produced of which fewer than 200 are known to exist today. In 1934 AFN Ltd. acquired the rights to import BMWs into the UK and these right-hand-drive cars were sold as Frazer Nash-BMWs. In total 48 Frazer Nash-BMW 328s were imported into Britain, some with the German bodywork while a few others had British coachwork and all but 2 of these cars survive to this day.
This Motor Car
The Classic Motor Hub is delighted to offer for sale this stunning Frazer Nash BMW 328 chassis #85107. The car was delivered from the factory to AFN London on the 2nd of July 1937, finished in white with black wings. Its first owner, Mr. W.I. Innes of Hawick, Scotland, purchased it on the 27th January 1938 whereupon it was given the registration GHX 514. Mr Innes was a keen motorist and he soon had it entered for the Paris Nice Trial in July/August that year. The event was a testing affair starting with flying laps of the ‘Circuit de Vitesse’ at Montlhery, followed by the long road section down through Grenoble, Troyes, Dijon, Beaune, Bourg-en-Bresse before finishing at the ‘Pont-du-Var just on the outskirts of Nice. The cars were then re-examined before two final tests comprising a low speed / acceleration test and finally the La Turbie Hillclimb. #85107 not only completed the trial but it came 1st in class (sub 2000cc) in the La Turbie Hillclimb and 8th overall, an impressive effort!
What happened to the car during the war is unknown but it survived the hostilities safely and photographs show it was back racing at Silverstone in 1952. In February 1963 it was acquired by Alexander Britton of Manchester and 3 further owners are known until it was bought by Peter Lovett in 1989. He kept this wonderful example for 3 years before selling it to Richard Wilkinson who has owned the car for the past 28 years.
During Richards ownership this elegant car has been meticulously maintained and there are a huge number of invoices on file showing that it was always kept in top condition by the leading 328 specialists such as TT Workshops and Steve Stanton. On acquiring #85107, Richard had a Bristol gearbox with overdrive installed, a hugely beneficial modification that allows much faster cruising speeds while being gentler on the engine. The body was also given a freshen up by TT Workshops in ‘98/’99 including a respray and a re-trim which remains in excellent condition to this day.
Interestingly, this particular 328 made a big screen cameo in the film adaptation of Noel Cowards ‘Easy Virtue’ in 2008 with Jessica Beal, Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas where it rather steals the show.
This fabulous Frazer Nash BMW 328 is a matching numbers car, retaining its original engine and (due to its fastidious ownership) it is being offered for sale in wonderful condition inside and out. The car is accompanied by a large history file that perfectly complements this historic motor car.