- Post is under moderationOffering some incredibly exclusive alternatives to the hottest BMWs out there for several decades now, Alpina still acts as an extremely worthy distraction for anyone in the market for a sporty German cruiser.
GILES RAMSDEN’S ALPINA B10 3.5 / #BMW-E34 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW-5-Series / #Alpina-B10-3.5 / #Alpina-B10-3.5-E34 / #Alpina-B10-E34 / #Alpina-E34 / #Alpina-B10 / #Alpina / #BMW-535i-Alpina-E34
Giles here was kind enough to share his slice of Alpina perfection with us: this stunning #Island-Green B10 3.5 that took on BMW’s E34 5-Series back in the early ‘90s. “I bought it as a shell on a trolley, along with a couple of boxes of bits, after the previous owner lost interest in it.” Giles explains how he took on this huge, yet clearly extremely rewarding project, just a few short years ago.
Now back to its former glory, practically every part has been bought fresh from either Alpina or BMW. There’s no denying that luxury charm is present by the bucketload too. This one contains touches like signature gold stripes and a sumptuous leather interior. Of course, there's also the re-worked version of the #BMW-M30 #straight-six engine that Alpina took out of #BMW-535i-E34 .
Only 572 of these super-saloons were ever produced worldwide, so it’s great to see another example brought back from the brink. Top work for saving another modern classic icon from the scrapper!
TOP MODS: Full nut-and-bolt bare-shell restoration in original Island Green colour, genuine Alpina badging and stripes, original Silver Grey leather interior, #Bilstein shocks and #Eibach springs.
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SPECIAL CONVERSIONS Binz 300c estate / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Adenauer / #Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer-Estate / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300-Estate / #Binz /
Mercedes never intended the #1951 #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300-Adenauer as an estate car, but German coachbuilding firm #Binz begged to differ and created this one-off wagon, reports Richard Truesdell. IMAGES Richard Truesdell.
SPACE WITH GRACE
“BINZ CRAFTSMEN, DRAWING ON THEIR EXPERIENCE IN AMBULANCE AND HEARSE CONVERSIONS, WERE TASKED WITH CONVERTING THE 300C INTO AN AMERICAN-STYLE ESTATE”
Station wagons, estates, T-models. Call them what you will, such vehicles bearing the three-pointed star are commonplace today. But back in the 1950s you had to go down the custom coachbuilt route if you wanted a #Mercedes-Benz-Kombiwagen . That is just what one wealthy American did and this is the story of her car, which spans more than five decades.
In the 1950s, the mass-produced, all-steel, American station wagons were in their heyday. As the first of these cars were introduced in 1948 and 1949, real-wood body conversions were already on the decline. And while there were some large, powerful and luxurious American-built station wagons available, from Buick and Chrysler especially, none, it seems, had sufficient cachet for Caroline Foulke, a wealthy socialite with homes in Paris, New York and Florida. In 1956 she visited her local dealer – the flagship Mercedes-Benz dealership on New York City’s Park Avenue – with an unusual request. She wanted a Mercedes-Benz station wagon. There was, however, just one little problem – at the time, #Mercedes -Benz offered no such model.
But this didn’t deter the eager-top-lease sales team at #Mercedes-Benz Manhattan, who apparently arranged for a new #W186 300c #Adenauer saloon – one of just 1,367 built between September 1955 and July 1957 – to be delivered directly to #Binz-&-Company-Coachworks in Lorch, Germany. The Binz craftsmen, drawing on their experience in ambulance and hearse conversions, were tasked with converting the four-door 300c into an American-style estate. It should be noted that unlike many conversions of Mercedes saloons into hearses and ambulances, the rear side windows of this car are set almost flush with the bodywork aft of the ‘C’-pillars. This contributes to the car’s factory look, while the design of the thin, chromed pillars gives the car exceptional all-round visibility.
Indeed, some liken this car’s appearance to subsequent factory-built Mercedes estates. Like its saloon counterparts, Mrs Foulke’s 300c estate was powered by Mercedes’ M186, three-litre, 123bhp #straight-six . When mated to the standard four-speed manual transmission with a steering column-mounted shifter, as in this car, the 1,860kg 300c saloon could do 0-62mph in 17 seconds, with a maximum speed of 99mph.
Much folklore surrounds this car. One of the stories is that Mrs Foulke was so proud of her unique Mercedes that she had it flown to her many homes at huge expense. After all, it is a car that would be very much at home on Madison Avenue in New York City, in Palm Beach, Florida, or on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. As commissioned by Mrs Foulke, the car was finished in the striking combination of graphite grey with a contrasting red leather interior.
In the years that followed, the car passed through a number of owners. One of these was noted collector Charlie Cawley (a former CEO of bank holding company MBNA in the USA) who at one time had over 200 cars in his collection. It was when this 300c estate was in his care that it was repainted in its current dark blue.
In 1999 the car found a new owner, investment banker Lee Munder, who purchased it through the RM Auctions 1999 Amelia Island sale for a reported $75,000. The car was invited to the 2000 Amelia Island concours d’elegance where it garnered more than its share of admiration. Afterwards, the car went to Hatch & Sons for a refresh. At the time, Jeff Cote worked on the car, but he now serves as the Restoration Manager at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California.
“It was apparent that, while at Binz, most of the standard bodywork was removed from the front doors backwards,” Cote tells us. “In its place, the craftsmen there, with their experience of converting sedans into ambulances and hearses, fabricated a full-length, one-piece roof. When we had the car apart you could see all the welding in the rear doors, as well as the bespoke, two-piece tailgate, all of which were apparently hand made. The original 300c tail lights were replaced with smaller units from the then current 180 Ponton and 190SL.”
For much of the 2000s, this bespoke wagon didn’t attract too much attention – until it appeared in the Gooding & Company auction catalogue for an Amelia Island event in 2010. There it attracted the eye of collector Bruce Iannelli, an exotic-car broker and automotive wholesaler who lives in Bergen County, New Jersey. And this is where the story starts to get really very interesting. Iannelli told us that he had known of the car for a long time, and was keen to add it to his collection, which includes nine other Mercedes, many of which were restored and acquired through the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center.
“I’ve known about the car for 10 years, but I could never get my hands on it,” Iannelli says. “Then I saw it in the 2010 Amelia Island listing and I told my wife, Margaret, that we had to have it – I told her we will take our oldest daughter to college in it.”
Michael Kunz, Manager of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, remembers being contacted by Iannelli soon after the Gooding & Company catalogue was released. “Reading the description, we were excited at the prospect of him adding the car to his collection,” says Kunz. “And it certainly didn’t hurt that our own Jeff Cote was intimately familiar with the car, as he led the refreshing efforts on it while working at Hatch & Sons.”
“I couldn’t be at Amelia Island to bid on the car,” continues Iannelli, “ but the Classic Center served as my eyes and ears. They told me exactly what it would need if I bought it. Work included removing what appeared to be an after-market air-con system, fitting new interior wood and refurbishing two exterior panels, and attending to the top of the motor.” Iannelli then shares his excitement regarding the bidding process itself. “On the day of the auction, the Gooding people called me, asking if I could be available to buy the car on the phone. They told me they would call at 7.30pm as the car was scheduled to be auctioned at 8pm.
Margaret and I were in a local restaurant at the time, so I told her to put down the wine. ‘We’re going home, I don’t want to be distracted – we are going to buy this car.’”
When the bidding started, Iannelli held back, hoping not to show his hand. “The bidding started at $75,000, then reached $110,000 before levelling off at $165,000. I put in a bid of $170,000 [over £100,000] and then my phone went dead. I called back on another phone and the Gooding girl answered, telling me to bid another $5,000 even though I didn’t know the total price – and I got it! In the time between my phone going dead and reconnecting with Gooding, the bidding went to $230,000 [around £140,000] and without knowing it at the time, my extra $5,000 made me the winner! Owning the car was more important than the final price. For me, it is the story of this car, the simple passion of owning the best, and in this case, a unique Mercedes-Benz.
Now that this one-off 300c Adenauer estate is part of his stable, we asked Iannelli to reflect on it. “It has a very distinctive and proud nose, the design is so straight and perfect – it’s hard to tell that it wasn’t originally designed as a station wagon,” he considers. “Looking into the dash, the beauty of the instruments and the wood, it’s so finely detailed, so perfect. It’s the ultimate. The car drives down the road so absolutely flawlessly. It’s rolling art.”
In looking back on his now four-year ownership of the Adenauer estate, Bruce offered up these comments. “Unique, one-of-a-kind cars are rare and getting rarer. Often they go into private collections and in many instances will never come out again. As a family, we are lucky to have it. People see the uniqueness and it is now a key part of our collection.” It would seem that Bruce Iannelli has the right spirit in preserving and sharing the cars bearing the three-pointed star that reside in his collection. He is doing the memory of Caroline Foulke proud.
TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS #Mercedes-Benz-300c-Estate-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-300-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-M186 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-300c-Binz-Estate-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-300c-Binz / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Binz-W186 / #Binz-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300 / #Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Station-Wagon / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Kombiwagen / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Kombiwagen-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Station-Wagon-W186
Engine #M186 2,996cc 6-cyl
Power 123bhp @ 4,500rpm
Torque 163lb ft @ 2,600rpm
Transmission 4-speed manual
Top speed 99mph
Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
All figures from Mercedes-Benz, and for a standard 300c
“ONE OF THE STORIES IS THAT MRS FOULKE WAS SO PROUD OF HER MERCEDES THAT SHE HAD IT FLOWN TO HER MANY HOMES AT HUGE EXPENSE”
“THE ORIGINAL 300C TAIL LIGHTS WERE REPLACED WITH SMALLER UNITS FROM THE THEN CURRENT 180 PONTON AND 190SL”
“LOOKING INTO THE DASH, THE BEAUTY OF THE INSTRUMENTS AND THE WOOD, IT’S SO FINELY DETAILED, SO PERFECT”
RIGHT The Adenauer’s interior wood trim was renewed and looks really beautiful.
RIGHT Seperate front seats, but the close together chairs could take three people.
ABOVE The Binz conversion to an estate included making up an entire new roof section.
BELOW Contemporary photos show it was an official, if very unusual, conversion.
BOTTOM Original paperwork adds to the 300c’s provenance.
ABOVE It must have been one of the poshest wagons to ride around in back in the 50s.
ABOVE LEFT This being an early 300 model, the transmission was a four-speed manual.
ABOVE TOP LEFT Even at this level of luxury occupants had to wind their own windows down.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSIZE MATTERS
A period-styled early-’90s E30 is a very desirable thing these days. So what happens if you exaggerate all of the details just a little bit? Ernie Hofstetter is the man to ask… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Anna Taylor.
/ #BMW-E30-M50-swapped / #BMW-E30-Cab / #M50-swapped
Exaggeration, despite what your teachers at school told you, is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, it can be helpful in getting ahead in life to artfully embellish and subtly big up the finer points of your character and achievements, to massage the salient facts into something more colourful. Doesn’t hurt anybody, does it?
Ernie Hofstetter is a man who appreciates the nuances of this sort of behaviour. We’re not saying he’s a show off, of course – not by any means. But he’s reached the stage in his life when he’s seen a few automotive scenes come and go, ebb and flow, and he’s been taking notes all the way through. And here, with this E30, we find his meisterwerk; the physical manifestation of his years of careful observation, made real in glorious style. He’s taken the archetypal retro #BMW convertible, made it look sort of like a spec’d-up period example, but cunningly exaggerated the details. Thanks to this carefully thoughtthrough approach, the car’s almost like a cartoon – it looks like it would have done rolling through his hometown of Howell, New Jersey back in 1991, but something’s different… it’s lower, broader, meaner, more aggressive. Those subtle small details have added up to a mighty whole.
“Back when I was 18, I thought these E30s were the coolest thing,” Ernie remembers. “When the time came around decades later that I wanted a fun car, that model immediately came to mind. Throughout the years my cars have always been modified – one of my favourites was my 2006 Lincoln Mark LT pick-up truck – but this a bit different. I’ve always been interested in BMWs, it’s a quality European driving machine, so it was the clear choice this time.”
Ernie happily admits that he didn’t have a distinct plan for the car when he first got hold of it, and was willing to let inspiration be his guide. The cabriolet was found for sale in Philadelphia, and was in reasonable condition – not amazing and certainly not up to Ernie’s high standard but, of course, it was never the intention to buy someone else’s project. He wanted to create something unique of his very own: “Let the modding begin,” he mischievously grins.
The first area that was primed for exaggeration was the big oily bit under the bonnet. While M20 motors have their merits, Ernie wanted to go harder, better, faster, stronger, and the way to achieve this was to swap the thing out for the rather mightier choice of the M50. Specifically, an #M50B25 : the 2.5-litre #straight-six that you’d normally find powering an E36 325i. “The M20 was boring and ugly,” he says, somewhat mercilessly, “and the M50 is much cleaner and sleeker. Any non-essential parts were removed from the engine bay, along with any unnecessary brackets and so on, to make it all look as clean as possible; the battery was relocated to the boot to help with this too. I uprated the cooling system with a Mishimoto radiator and a Spal fan, and the exhaust system consists of ceramic-coated exhaust manifolds with heat wrap, a Borla mid-section and a Vibrant muffler – all custom, of course!
The car also started off as an automatic, but we couldn’t have that so it’s been swapped to a manual Getrag 260 five-speed transmission, with a Z3 shifter and aluminium shift carrier.”
A pretty comprehensive transformation, you’ll surely agree, but Ernie was just getting started. Having substantially beefed up the muscularity of the old drop-top, neatly morphing it from cruiser to bruiser, it was time to address the question of altitude.
Now, Ernie’s seen a thing or two, as we said, so he’s observed the stance scene evolving from grass roots to comparative mainstream. However, while air-ride has been around since World War II, its presence at the forefront of custom car culture is a relatively recent thing; back when our man was a teenager, the way to get your ride hopping was to slam in some hydros. So is that what Ernie’s opted for here? Not quite… you see, that exaggeration factor has come into play again. “I’ve always had the need to go lower,” he explains (note that he uses the word ‘need’ – that’ll no doubt be familiar to a number of you. This isn’t just playing, it’s a lifestyle). “The only thing that could satisfy me with this project was air suspension. So now the car has a full Air Lift system, with 3P management, rolling sleeves up front and Slamit Industries bags in the rear with Bilstein shocks. I custom-painted the airtank in the trunk, which gives a good supply of air at all times!” Well, that’s good to hear.
The next logical step was to put some thought into the wheels. No good slamming the thing over a set of weedy stock steels, right? So Ernie bolted on some 17” rims from iForged… but then he quickly changed his mind. The period style of the early Nineties was calling, and he found himself drawn toward the timeless charms of the BBS RS, knocking the diameter down an inch but beefing up the girth to amusing degrees: these things are 7.5” wide at the front, 8.5” out back, and the way it sits is so aggressively juicy that it almost makes your eyes water. Imagine an automotive cartoonist in the early 1990s sketching up a BBS-shod E30, slamming it to the ground with improbable lows – that’s the look Ernie’s achieved in real life. Once again, it’s a masterstroke of considered exaggeration. “Whatever happened to the car, I wanted it to be as clean as possible,” he assures us.
“The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love! The bulk of it was actually built by Michael Hockman, who is a legend in the E30 community, and has now become a great friend of mine. But all the fine finishing work was done by me, with great pride, as well as some talented people: Levent from Guten Parts, Andrew from Open Road Tuning, Rich from County Line Auto Body, and of course my fantastic wife Michelle who has the patience of a saint!”
What’s clear as Ernie talks us through the detail points of the car is that this sits somewhere on the mid-point of the scale between evolution and revolution; some of the changes he’s made are pretty extreme, and yet the whole ethos of the thing is to consider a period build and artistically amp it up for a 21st century audience. Take the treatment of the interior: “I wanted the insides to be as stock as possible, but I still wanted the modern amenities,” he says. “So that meant an AV audio receiver, iPod interface, reversing camera, satellite radio, navigation – all of the things that make it more comfortable.” And that’s exactly what we find in there, all subtly and tastefully integrated into the old-skool vibe. It certainly helps that work like this is his bread-and-butter, being a salesman of stereo and security systems for cars as well as all manner of bolt-on performance gizmos, and this E30 ’vert is a solid manifestation of his skills as well as his aspirations.
“It took a good six months to get the car to a quality I was happy with,” Ernie explains. “But there’s always fine-tuning going on – they’re never really finished, are they?” Well, no, he’s hit the nail on the head there. We always find new things to fiddle with. And when you’ve been observing the scene for as long as Ernie has, your mind can’t help but be constantly swimming with fresh ideas and new things to try. So this E30 is bound to change in the near future – possibly unrecognisably – but in this cheery little snapshot of the here-and-now, it’s pretty much perfect. An early-Nineties style convertible, with all the details cleverly exaggerated to turn it into a thoroughly modern creation.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet-E30 / #Getrag / #Viair / #BMW-E30-Air-Lift
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / #M50 / #BMW-M50 / #M50B25 from E36 325i, #Mishimoto radiator, Spal 16” fan, battery relocated to boot, #Raceskids skid plate, 318i harness cover, ceramic-coated headers with heat wrap, custom Y-pipe, #Borla mid-pipe and #Vibrant rear box with 2.5” piping, shaved and wire-tucked bay, #Getrag-260 five-speed conversion, custom transmission brace, Z3 shifter, aluminium shift carrier, 3.73 LSD
CHASSIS 7.5x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) ET14 #BBS-RS / #BBS , 180 slant lip (front) and 247 slant lip (rear), with 195/45 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Yokohama S-Drive tyres, full #Air-Lift suspension system with front rolling sleeves and Slamit Industries rear bags, Autopilot 3P management, dual #Viair-444C compressors
EXTERIOR Smoked projector headlights with integrated indicators, 6k low- and 3k high-beam HID lights, Euro grilles, rear impact strip fitted to front bumper, smoked tails and corner lights, front and rear valances with Ryan G splitter
INTERIOR #M-Tech-II suede steering wheel, suede gaiters, chrome gauge rings with Alpina tach strip and painted needles, #ZHP illuminated gear knob, #BMW pedal set including foot rest, Alpine AV receiver with navigation and reversing camera, JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amplifier
Gorgeous 16” #BBS RSs boast impressive width and have serious dish going on.
Air Lift 3P #Air-ride setup lets Ernie go as low as he wants to while custom boot build shows off both air components and upgraded audio elements, which include JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amp.
“The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love!”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGlorious #1938 #BMW-328-Stunning southern hemisphere pre-war classic still in regular use. This glorious #BMW-328 is the only one in the southern hemisphere and is still exercised on a regular basis as Chris Nicholls recounts.
Photography and word by Chris Nicholls. Southern Comfort. This wonderful pre-war 328 is reputed to be the only one left in the southern hemisphere.
It’s a beautiful sunny spring day in Melbourne , Australia , and the warm breeze blows through my hair. All around people are looking, waving and smiling. My cheeks hurt from the permanent grin I’ve been wearing since we started out towards our shoot location. This is the joy of driving in its purest form. This is what the 1938 328 can give you.
Designed in an era of classical fussiness, the 328 stood out for its clean, simple design. Not for the rational Germans the highly decorated and adorned surfaces of its rivals. Neither the pretty but impractical design touches that made others harder to work on than necessary. This was German design in its purest form and a symbol of what BMW would go on to be famous for – simple beauty and a focus on the very best driving experience.
Funnily enough, the 328, despite its inclusion as one of the ‘Cars of the Century’ by a mix of experienced motoring journalists, has always been seen by many as actually too good to have a soul as a result. Its immense practicality, highly influential engine and excellent handling meant it lacked character to some.
This is of course rubbish. I defy anyone to climb in, go for a drive and not come away with an insane grin. The roar of the triple downdraught Solex carbequipped 1971cc OHV straight-six at full bore, the rock solid mid-corner grip and availability of throttle- induced oversteer even in the dry is a fantastic combination, and that’s before we get to the pure pleasure of driving such an iconic car in modern day traffic. Yes, you have to deal with the actual traffic itself for a little while, but even then people just love seeing such cars on the road, and the joy you give them is a part of what makes driving a classic sports car like the 328 so special. And once you get to the twisties, you really see where BMW’s famous DNA came from. There’s a hint of initial understeer (mainly due to the tyres), then balanced mid-corner poise and the aforementioned twitch of the tail on command as you exit. The engine never feels weak on the straights either, even by today’s standards. Admittedly this example is running a sports cam and puts out a resulting 100hp or so, as opposed to the 80 it came with from the factory, but even in standard form, with only 830kg wet weight to push around, this car wouldn’t have hung about.
The race results show just how effective a sports car the 328 was in its period, too. As many readers will no doubt know, the 328 came first in class at the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring in 1936, then went on to take over 100 class wins in #1937 before winning its class at Le Mans, the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Alpine Rally and the Mille Miglia in ‘38. By the standards of the day, it was a rocket ship, and the fact current caretaker, Ken Bedggood of the Penrite Collection, has had it down the standing quarter at 17.2 seconds highlights that fact.
Remarkably, as mentioned earlier, for all its speed, it’s still a very practical car. The boot, while it lacks rear access, is cavernous, and fitting in all my camera gear (and there was a lot) was easy. It could have held more, too. The rear-hinged ‘crocodile’ bonnet and quick-release clasps on the leather straps mean working on the engine is a breeze, and even the seats come out with a simple tug to ensure you can sit and enjoy a picnic without ever getting your clothes dirty.
Of course, the completely unsecured seats, scalloped doors, lack of belts and the enamelled dashboard being only a small distance from your chest means should something bad ever happen, you’re probably toast, but that’s part of the thrill. Plus, you’re likely to be driving this a bit more carefully than your average family hatchback anyway.
Having said that, this particular example gets driven with some enthusiasm on a regular basis, thanks to Bedggood’s philosophy that cars are meant to be used. A former champion rally driver here in Australia and manager of the Team Penrite historic racing team when he’s not running the museum and building/maintaining the cars, Bedggood has both the skills and experience to handle machines like the 328 and should he ever get hit by someone when he’s out driving, he at least has the skills to repair it himself, being a qualified fitter and turner.
The fact this 328 does get driven almost everywhere is perhaps all the more remarkable when you consider this is the only one in the southern hemisphere. That’s right, of the 464 produced, this is the only remaining example south of the equator, and probably one of only a couple of hundred left running. (there was one other here for a while, but that was on loan to #BMW-Australia from #BMW Welt, and has since gone back). It’s so rare that Bedggood says he’s had ‘ludicrous’ offers for it in recent years, but thankfully for Australians, the owner, Penrite Oils CEO John Dymond, has no intention of parting with it.
“Because all the Europeans have been buying them up [in recent times], we have so few of these classics here in Australia any more; we have to keep the ones we’ve got. I mean, I understand those who do sell, as it’s basically their retirement fund, but we’ve got to hold onto some, otherwise what’s going to happen to the next generation? We can’t pass on that passion,” says Bedggood.
That’s why he takes it out as often as he can. Whether it’s the Geelong Speed Trials, where it ran its 17.2 quarter, or the famous Phillip Island Classic, where it competed in the regularity field a few years back, Bedggood ensures it get used as intended. Just a few weeks after this shoot, it went out in the Breast Cancer Foundation Rally, and later in 2016 it will be in the parade contingent for the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercars season opener in Adelaide.
Sadly, due to a small oil leak, it’s likely not going to be driven interstate for that, but the very fact it gets driven almost everywhere else is almost a miracle, and definitely something car lovers in Australia should be grateful for. It’s also something that shocked BMW Australia when both this 328 and its example turned up at one show together. “It’s funny, we took it to this event once and the employees from BMW Australia trailered theirs in a covered trailer and we just drove all the way there and they looked at us when we arrived as if they were like ‘what are you doing?!’.” Not that all this driving doesn’t have risks.
Bedggood relates another story where the team was invited to show it off it as part of the historic parade at the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix one year, and only realised when they got back to the pits that the fuse box cover had come off mid-lap.
“I thought to myself, ‘oh no! Where am I going to source a genuine Bakelite Bosch fuse cover from 1938?’ but afterwards, a marshal came up to me and said “I think this came off your car just near where I was marshalling” and handed it back to me. Unbelievably, it was in perfect condition.”
Indeed, the whole car is in remarkably good nick, considering its age and history. Previously owned by Chris Browning in the UK, current owner John Dymond came into it after Browning sadly fell ill with cancer and passed away. Dymond, a close friend of Browning, always talked to him about wanting the car, and Browning agreed to it before he passed. It then competed in a Frazer Nash Rally to Milan before being shipped to Australia and has been used regularly ever since. Even after all that, mechanically, the only issue right now is the aforementioned slight oil leak, which will no doubt be fixed, and the fact the alloy head already has 36 welds holding it together. Ideally, Bedggood would like to keep this part original, but has a Bristol head waiting in the workshop should he ever need it, as spark plug sizes aside, they’re identical (for those who don’t know, the Bristol engine was based on BMW designs taken by BAC and Frazer Nash representatives from the bombed factory after World War II). And given the car already had an overdriveequipped Volvo Amazon synchro box – a common and highly regarded upgrade over the fragile stock Hirth ‘box that, uniquely among other options, bolts on with no body modifications – fitted prior to Dymond’s purchase (the original came with it too), matching numbers is not so much of a pressing issue. At least the ultra-purists will be happy knowing the original toolbox is still intact. And in a lovely touch, the Victorian number plate is actually the same as the one it wore in the UK.
Aesthetically, the wonderful cream paint outside is almost entirely unblemished, apart from a patch missing on the bonnet due to the straps not being done up properly prior to a road rally and the bonnet flying up and hitting the windscreen, and a bit of peeling around the now useless crank handle hole (the car was converted to 12 volt electrics while in the UK). Inside, a paint chip at the bottom of the dash and around well-used knobs and one of the VDO gauges is about all you can see. The unusually plain Bakelite three-spoke wheel obviously has some marks, but overall, it’s a stunningly well-looked after machine. It really is testament to the care Bedggood and the other museum staff impart.
Machines like the 328 are, by definition, rare. Not just because of the limited production numbers and scarcity down under in this case, but because cars that get things this right only come along once in a proverbial blue moon. Whether it’s style, performance, handling or ingenious design, the 328 ticks all the boxes, and car lovers should be grateful such cars still exist, let alone get driven and put on show regularly like this one. It’s a source of pure joy, and my time with it was an experience I will never forget.
Plenty of original equipment remains intact on the Penrite 328 such as its factory tool kit.
TECHNICAL DATA #1938 #BMW-328
ENGINE: 1971cc #OHV #straight-six based on #BMW-326 block (66mm bore, 96mm stroke). Alloy head, 7.5:1 compression ratio, inclined inlet valves operated by pushrods and rockers, exhaust valves operated by secondary pushrods and rockers, triple downdraught #Solex carburettors, sports camshaft, 100hp (estimated), 80hp (standard).
GEARBOX: #Volvo-Amazon all-synchro four-speed with added overdrive (Hirth four-speed originally).
CHASSIS: Tubular ladder-frame steel with aluminium body panels.
FRONT: Independent by transverse leaf spring, lower wishbones and hydraulic dampers
REAR: suspension: Live axle, semi-elliptic springs and hydraulic dampers
BRAKES: 280mm hydraulic drum brakes. Automatic footbrake adjustment
TYRES: #Dunlop Racing 5.50-16
This particular example gets driven with some enthusiasm on a regular basis.
I defy anyone to climb in, go for a drive and not come away with an insane grin.
The interior is in remarkable condition with the perfect patina; plenty of lovely details too, such as the stylish gear knob.
This 328 gets regularly exercised and is a hoot to drive thanks to a sports camshaft and 100hp.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.