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1938 BMW 326 Cabriolet
Registration no. YXG 517
Chassis no. 84783

It was the acquisition of the Dixi works at Eisenach in 1928 that had provided BMW, hitherto a manufacturer of aero engines and motorcycles, with a foothold in car manufacturing. BMW's first car, the built-under-license Dixi version of the Austin Seven was gradually developed and improved, ending up with swing-axle suspension and overhead valves, and then in 1933 came the first true BMW - the six-cylinder 303. The latter adopted a twin-tube frame and abandoned the rear swing axles in favour of a conventional live axle, while up front there was a superior transverse-leaf independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. These features, along with the four-bearing, overhead-valve engine, would provide the basis for the more powerful and sportingly inclined models to follow.

Lacking the resources of larger and longer established rivals, BMW adopted an evolutionary, 'mix and match' approach to model development. Thus the 326 employed the body style first seen on the interim 329 model, which was mechanically identical to the 319 of 1934. Introduced in 1936, the 326 was a landmark model of immense significance and the first BMW to have a box-section ladder-type frame rather than the traditional tubular variety, while its torsion bar rear springing was another first for the Bavarian manufacturer. Boring out the block by 1mm increased the capacity of the well-tried overhead-valve six to 1,971cc and raised maximum power to 50bhp in single-carburettor form as installed in the 326. Other noteworthy developments included hydraulic brakes and a four-speed gearbox with freewheel on 1st and 2nd gears enabling clutch-less gear changes, a particularly useful feature in city traffic.

Motor Sport tested a BMW 326 in 1937 and despite the car's relatively modest top speed of 75-80mph (120-129km/h) found that it could be 'cruised up to this pace wherever conditions permit without sacrifice of economy or tune, and, as one has come to expect of all models of the marque, at such speeds engine and chassis are effortless and the coachwork unprotesting. The new engine has, in fact, been designed to be literally "unburstable".' It is hardly surprising, therefor, that the 326 proved such a success, almost 16,000 being sold up to 1941 when production ceased.

This matching numbers BMW 326 Cabriolet was delivered new in July 1938 to Runge, Glas & Cia of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as confirmed by the BMW Classic Certificate on file. The original exterior finish was Ivory. We are advised that five owners are known: the first in Argentina, the second in Italy, and the third in Sweden. The fourth owner, Mr Ian Donaldson of Odiham, Hampshire acquired the BMW in October 2014, at which time it was first registered in the UK (V5C on file). The current (fifth) owner purchased the car in April 2015 (sale contract on file) and last year replaced the battery and fuel pump. An older restoration, well maintained since, this beautiful BMW 326 Cabriolet is ideal for historic rallies and other classic car events.

Bonhams 1793
101 New Bond Street
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Bonhams Collectors’ Car department