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  #1  
Old 01-15-2018, 08:13 PM
Paul-Bracq-BMW Paul-Bracq-BMW is offline
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Amazing barnfind: 1937 BMW 328 lightweight racer

Hello all. my 1st post in this community. I'm a big BMW fan, especially of their vintage cars that IMO don't have the following they deserve. And here's an extraordinary story on a forgotten, but now found rare pre-WWII 328 racer.

An acquaintance of mine who is an authority in vintage car restoration (think Pebble Beach best of show winners) told me about this very special car a few days ago and that it would be making the news soon...

Then the amazing story broke cover in the January 22nd printed/electronic edition of Autoweek magazine!

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This special BMW is a hybrid with a very rare BMW 328 lightweight racing chassis and a postwar Veritas body. The monetary valuable part is the racing chassis. To give you an example, the subsequent chassis number received a high bid of 4.3 million euros at an auction in Monaco in 2010, yet the owner decided to pass. Of course, the car we're talking about is nowhere in the same state as the 4-million plus 328, but it is still very valuable being so rare and with a great racing history.

This Veritas/BMW 328 was found by 2 car enthusiasts from Iowa: Dereck Freshour and Heath Rodney. When they bought the car from neighbouring farmer, they thought it was a postwar Veritas, worth a fraction of a 328, even though some Veritas were built using 328 parts (which their car obviously was). Yet, underneath the relatively mundane body lied a very special chassis. Chassis #85031 is a rare BMW 328 lightweight racing chassis that everybody thought was lost.

A short recap. The BMW 328 is probably the most significant car for BMW as it was the model that first established the Bavarian as a maker of racing and winning sports cars. And, of course it introduced the now legendary BMW inline-6 engine. The 328 were dominant in the 2-litre class right before WWII with wins at Le Mans, The Mille Miglia, the Nurburgring... That's why they now are amongst the most valuables of all classic BMW's.

And the racing lightweight versions are even more rare and valuable. Out of the 434 328's produced by BMW between 1936 and 1940, only 61 were made to lightweight specs with a 70% more powerful engine (from 80hp to 136), a close-ratio gearbox, a 100-litre racing tanks, bigger drum brakes, and, of course, a much lighter and more aerodynamic body.

Chassis 85031 was raced at the 1937 24hr of le Mans, almost right after it left the factory, where it got into an accident. Then it was shipped to England to enter the Tourist Trophy, where it was driven by racing royalty (literally) Prince Bira of Siam (Thailand) to 3rd overall and first in class. The next year, it came 3rd in class at the Mille Miglia where BMW swept the podium in the 2-litre class. After an unsuccessful run at the 1938 Tourist Trophy, the car was retired from racing by BMW. Then it's history became much less known, WWII not helping matters.


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The car became a Veritas after the war probably because the Americans forbid construction of new cars in Germany as a retribution of war. So the newly established company, started by former BMW employees, used old BMW chassis to build their cars from... Somehow chassis 85031, now a Veritas, found its way to the US, probably imported by a former GI as it often happened after the war and was used until around 1966 in Iowa. The car was stored in 1966, then bought by the farmer in late 1971 who thought of restoring it but never did and was finally acquired by Dereck and Heath.

So how did they think they had something special in their hands, far from being vintage BMW specialists? By buying a magazine article about Veritas on Ebay! The article mentioned reclusive BMW expert Jim Proffitt and they relentlessly tried to get in touch with him. And their effort paid off. Jim helped them determine the provenance of the car thanks to the racing clues such as the large fuel tank and chassis number stamp with the golden 85031 number. They managed to get the chassis authenticated by BMW and have decided to invest in a restoration of this important car to racing 328 spec.

Now the million dollar question. How much is this important car worth? Well, probably less than 4.3 million euros, but more than a million dollars as the "regular" road 328's easily fetch above 500K...

I'm sure more news and pictures are to come in the next few months...

For more pics and the detailed story, please refer to the Autoweek article.

In conclusion, a couple of things I've learned from this amazing find:

1- There are still rare and historically important BMW's out there to be found.
2- You never know what you get when you buy a vintage car or a barnfind: do your homework and find out the history of the car and your relatively humble Veritas can become an ultra rare BMW racer!
3-Enjoy a ride of a lifetime in the research, the discovery and the restoration!
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  #2  
Old 01-16-2018, 06:19 PM
Paul-Bracq-BMW Paul-Bracq-BMW is offline
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New pic...

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Old 01-25-2018, 11:18 PM
F30N20 F30N20 is offline
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Very nice! I used to live in N.E. Iowa and while driving pass farms I would see old cars piled up all over. I always wanted to stop but never did.
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Old 03-23-2018, 01:27 PM
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Barrister Barrister is offline
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Very cool.
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Old 11-16-2018, 03:16 PM
Falcon75 Falcon75 is offline
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An Amazing Story for sure, will be curious to see the finial product after the rebuild.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:18 PM
scootr scootr is offline
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Any updates available. I know these projects take years...
A quick google search came up empty.
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