1937 BMW 328
Year of manufacture1937
Introduced in 1936, the BMW 328 Roadster represented a clever new approach to sports car design. Boasting a rugged yet lightweight twin-tube chassis, independent swing axle front suspension, hydraulic brakes, and elegant aluminum bodywork, the 328 was powered by a two-liter, inline six-cylinder engine, which featured an aluminum crossflow cylinder head with hemispherical combustion chambers and triple Solex carburetors. Delivering 80 hp at 5,000 rpm, this advanced engine endowed the 328 with genuine 100 mph performance and uncommon reliability.
The 328 emerged victorious at its racing debut at the Nürburgring in 1936 and went on to score class wins at the 1937 RAC Tourist Trophy, 1938 Alpine Rally, and 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1940, a factory-entered, Touring-bodied BMW 328 Coupe won the Mille Miglia outright, at an astonishing average speed of 166.7 km/h. With over 200 victories to its credit, the 328 remained competitive in amateur sports car racing well into the 1950s.
According to BMW Group Classic, this 328 Roadster, chassis 85138, was sold new via Dobernecker & Groh of Leipzig, Germany in October 1937. As recorded in the original Kraftfahrzeugbrief, or registration book, its first owner, whose name cannot be deciphered, paid 7,443.50 reichsmarks for the new BMW sports car and registered it in the small, eastern German town of Eisleben with plate number ‘IM-156037.’ The 328 remained in the hands of its original owner until May 1944, when it was sold to Gerhard Künz, a craftsman living in Leipzig, who re-registered it with plate number ‘III-53763.’ The third and final recorded German owner of 85138 was Hans Mönke of Giessen, who registered the car on April 18, 1950.
Later that year, William C. Marquardt – an American Overseas Airlines (AOA) pilot who had served in the Army Air Corps’ 379th Bombardment Group during WWII and the famous Berlin Airlift – purchased this BMW while stationed in Germany. A passionate sports car enthusiast, Mr. Marquardt brought the 328 Roadster back home to the US and used it as weekend transportation throughout the 1950s and 1960s while working for Pan American World Airways System. Upon his passing, ownership of the BMW was transferred to his daughter Mercedes, who continued to preserve the car in static storage until its recent sale to the consignor.
Rarely seen throughout its seven decades in single-family ownership, this 328 Roadster is an exceptional survivor that is virtually unchanged since the early 1950s. Showing just 31,918 kilometers at the time of cataloguing, this BMW presents in wonderfully patinated, unrestored condition, with the car’s lovely original light blue color showing through cracked sections of white paint. In general, the fragile aluminum bodywork appears to be complete and well kept, its folding two-piece Sekurit glass windscreen, rear-wheel fender skirts, decorative hubcaps, trafficators, and prewar Fulda spare tire remarkably left intact.
The interior retains its original leather upholstery, square-weave carpets, rubber mats, and rarely seen original features such as the cigarette lighter and clock. The original cloth soft top, side curtains, and leather hood straps are stowed in the compartment behind the seats, and several factory-supplied accessories, including the jack, starting crank, and toolbox, are fitted under the hood. Most importantly, the chassis, engine, and data plate are properly stamped 85138. Included with the sale is the original German Kraftfahrzeugbrief, a rare BMW model-line sales brochure, and two pages of service notes, typed on period Pan Am letterhead.
Surely among the finest unrestored examples to be found, this 328 Roadster possesses a charming patina, well-documented provenance, and uncommon originality. Never before exhibited, this important BMW sports car ought to be an ideal candidate for preservation class display at prestigious concours d’elegance or, following a sympathetic mechanical recommissioning, a brilliant choice for exclusive tours like the Mille Miglia or Colorado Grand. With most high-quality examples held in highly regarded private collections, the appearance of this glorious, garage-find 328 at public auction is a rare opportunity that should not be overlooked.