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1938 BMW 328 Roadster (Recreation)

Photos provided by the vendor


  • Recreation based upon an original 328 with well-known US history
  • Engine rebuilt and specially prepared for long-distance rally events
  • Usability enhanced with an all-synchromesh Volvo Amazon four-speed gearbox - the original is included in the sale

The Appeal 

Leichtbau: the use of lightweight construction to improve performance. That was the word to which BMW devoutly adhered when developing the 328, arguably the most modern sports car of the 1930s. It was that lightness combined with graceful streamlining which resulted in a car which, with only a 2.0-litre engine, was as fast as the big 4½-litre sports cars of the day, but far more nimble and driver-friendly. 
It was, in so many ways, a car ahead of its time. Lauded by Motor Sport magazine as ‘the fastest and, simultaneously, the most comfortable sports car that has ever been built’, the 328 wasted no time in proving its worth in competition. From its launch in 1936, it was virtually unrivalled in the two-litre racing classes, and many continued to be campaigned competitively for years after the war. The list of successes included a class win at the 1939 Le Mans 24 Hours and an outright victory in the 1940 Mille Miglia. 
Sadly, but for obvious reasons, 328 production ended in 1940, but its achievements have not been forgotten and it continues to be celebrated to this day. 
The car offered for sale here would be an ideal candidate for tours, rallies and road races, since it benefits from a recently rebuilt engine which was prepared specially for long-distance events. It also features a four-speed, all-synchromesh Volvo gearbox, a common modification which makes the 328 much more useable, although the original gearbox is supplied and may be fitted if preferred or required to satisfy period event criteria. 
This car is considered a recreation as it was extensively restored while still in the USA using numerous replacement parts for the bodywork and chassis. BMW records suggest the original chassis may still exist in a disassembled state and is likely still located in the United States.
Said to be performing beautifully and ready for the road, it represents one of the finest, most advanced and most versatile pre-war cars money can buy. 

The History and Paperwork 

  • According to the earliest available record, chassis 85223 was purchased in 1955 by Mr. Stanley V. Willhight, a watchmaker living in Coupeville, Washington, USA, then aged 41 
  • Accounts of the late Mr. Willhight reveal him to have been very much the Renaissance man, not only a car enthusiast and skilled horologist but also a keen violinist and amateur artist, with widespread interests encompassing architecture, astronomy, Egyptology, local history and maritime history 
  • The car was later owned by Mr. Van Bibber and Mr. Tom Graham, who got the car in disassembled condition and started later the renovation of the car
  • In 2014, the BMW was exported to Czechia, where it has been registered as a historic vehicle 
  • The restoration entailed the replacement of numerous components throughout the vehicle, potentially including the chassis as the original is understood to still exist in the USA
  • In the USA, it has benefitted from extensive mechanical renovations, including the engine being specially tuned for long-distance events and an all-synchromesh Volvo gearbox being fitted for driving convenience 
  • Offered for sale with the State of Washington Certificate of Ownership naming Mr. Willhight as the previous owner and some Czech import and registration documents, including the Historic Vehicle Club Test Certificate with identity confirmed by the Veterán klub Kroměříž z.s. 

The Condition

  • Believed to have been restored and repainted since arriving in Czechia with some final upgrades being fitted whilst in Czechia
  • Fitted with very rare Mille Miglia-style wheels 
  • All appears as clean underneath as it is on top 
  • Evidently restored to a very high standard 
  • Paint, upholstery and trim all in fine visual order

With its stellar performances at Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and countless other races and hill climbs, the BMW 328 was a bona fide road racer, and the competition-inspired presentation of 85223 leaves you in no doubt about the fact. White was a popular colour for 328s, evoking Germany’s proud racing history through the 1910s, ’20s and early ’30s, when it was the official racing colour of Germany (in the mid-1930s, it was replaced by silver). 

More exciting than the paint, though, are the lightweight magnesium Mille Miglia wheels. These decidedly purposeful-looking wheels differ considerably from the standard production wheels and not just in appearance; the Mille Miglia wheels have the brakes built directly into them, allowing for quicker changes during race conditions. 

A good look over the car reveals it to be in lovely order. As mentioned, it has obviously been the recipient of a high-quality restoration in quite recent years, and it shows. The paint appears free from notable imperfections and the wheels look superb. Even the leather bonnet straps give no indication of having been fastened and unfastened on more than a small handful of occasions. What’s more, the underside is so clean and well-presented as to suggest that the car has seldom been used on the road following its restoration. 

It is obvious that the paintwork and the upholstery are both fairly new, and there is certainly no obvious evidence of ageing. As far as we can see, the dash, seats and door trims are completely unblemished. Despite the obvious restoration work, its appearance is still very correct and it faithfully adheres to the original specification. The colour scheme is very much appropriate for the period and is potentially original to the car. 
The exemplary presentation of all the switches and instruments, and the handsome cream steering wheel, are testament to the exceptional quality of the restoration the BMW has received. 

The Mechanics 

  • Engine fully rebuilt and tuned for long-distance events
  • Four-speed Volvo Amazon manual gearbox fitted
  • Brakes modified in accordance with the special Mille Miglia wheels 
  • Original gearbox supplied alongside the Volvo gearbox fitted 
  • Sold with a selection of original tools 

The lively little six-cylinder engine still sports period-correct Solex carburettors, and also benefits from the fitment of an additional oil-cooler. The other main modifications concern the brakes, which are now built into the wheels for easier wheel-changing, and the gearbox. 
It is a common modification for the original gearbox to be replaced by an all-synchromesh Volvo four-speed in order to permit quicker changes, and that’s exactly the treatment that this car has undergone, so it promises all the exhilarating performance of an original 328 with just a little more practical usability. If, however, you are a stickler for originality, you will be pleased to know that the original gearbox is included in the sale and can easily be reinstalled. Better still, it also comes with its original set of tools. 
The vendor describes the BMW as being in “perfect mechanical condition” and says “it runs absolutely perfectly”.

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The seller of this vehicle is registered as a business seller. And you are covered by Car & Classic’s Terms and Conditions
We request that a non-refundable fee be paid if you are the lucky winning bidder at auction or if your offer is accepted. Please refer to our helpful FAQs and T&Cs for specific rates. 
This vehicle is “Sold As Seen”, on an “As Is Where Is’ basis and without warranty. Photos and descriptions are solely for guidance purposes and it's customary to carry out a full inspection of the vehicle prior to purchase for your own peace of mind. 
✓ VAT is included in the buyer's deposit. VAT may or may not be included in the final bid or offer price, as specified in the listing. 
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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1938
  • Make BMW
  • Model 328 (1936–1940)
  • Colour Beige
  • Odometer 1,099 Miles
  • Engine size 1971
Listing Details
  • Seller Type Trade
  • Town Brno
  • Location International
  • Country Czechia

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