Dec 11, 2010

This BMW ordered by Adolf Hitler at 1937

328 chassis number 85337 was ordered by the German government to run in the 2-liter class for the 1939 season. They finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in class at LeMans. Later that year, they again finished 1-2-3 in the replacement Mille Miglia staged in Northern Africa.
Bayerische Motoren Werke was formed by the merger of two aero engine manufacturers during World War I. When wartime came to an end, the company was forbidden to make aeronautical components. So the company branched out into production of motorcycles and heavy truck power-plants. Its first motorcycle was introduced in 1923 and featured opposed cylinders and shaft drive. These engines were also used in some small German cars.

BMW purchased the Dixi Werke of Eisenach and continued the manufacture of the smallest Dixi product, an Austin Seven built under license. The BMW badge became apart of the cars in January of 1929, even though Dixi remained part of the marque name for half-a-year.

In 1932, the Austin license was given up in favor of the 3/20PS Type AM. This had a 782cc engine with overhead valves, and independent rear suspension by swing axles and leaf springs, and bodies from Daimler-Benz at Sindelfingen.

The Typ 303 was introduced in spring of 1933. This had a six-cylinder engine that displaced 1173cc and rested in a tubular chassis. It had a rack-and-pinion steering system and hydraulic brakes.

In 1934, a 1490cc car was introduced, the Type 315. This was the first BMW designed by Fritz Fiedler, an engineer who had once worked at Stoewer and Horch. Mr. Fiedler would be responsible for the designs of every BMW model until his retirement in 1964.

In 1936, at the Berlin Auto Show, BMW introduced the 326. This was a very important model for BMW as it was their first four-door sedan. It had a 1971cc engine that offered 50 brake horsepower and was capable of carrying the car to 72 mph. It was a streamlined vehicle that sat on a new box-section frame, with torsion bars in the rear.

The engine in the 328 had hemispherical combustion chambers and used short horizontal pushrods to operated opposed exhaust valves from the single camshaft. By increasing the compression and with ported heads, even more performance could be gained from the engine.

In competition, the BMW 328 models were very successful. At Le Mans in 1939, a 328 won the two-liter class. The same car, part of a five-car team, won 1940's Mille Miglia.

This 1937 BMW 328 Cabriolet wears coachwork by Autenrieth. Georg Autenrieth partnered with Franz Eisenlohr after World War I. In 1921, he left to start his own business. He built a popular business building cabriolet and tourer bodies for Opel and Rohr. Autenrieth bought into Rohr Automobilwerke; when BMW introduced the 326/327/328 series in the mid-1930s, Authenrieth built cabriolets and coupes. On the longer 326 chassis, they offered a four-door bodystyle.

When World War II came to a close, Autenrieth built cabriolets and coupes for BMW on the 501 and 502 models. They were also responsible for the bodies on Opels 1959-62 Rekord. When orders from Opel ceased, the firm closed down in 1964.

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