A one-of-a-kind 1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia, among the world’s most significant pre-war sports racing cars, will make its consignment debut at RM Auctions inaugural Sporting Classics of Monaco sale May 1 at the Grimaldi Forum in London.
The BMW 328 Mille Miglia ‘Büegelfalte’, chassis no. 85032, was part of the manufacturer’s early sports racing activity in the pre-war years. Chassis 85032 was manufactured in May 1937 as a standard-bodied car for Rudolf Schleicher´s Experimental Department at BMW.
The car participated in the 1937 Le Mans with the well-known British driver of the period, A.F.P. Fane, as well as the 1937 Tourist Trophy in the hands of H.G. Dobbs. The following year it participated in the 1938 Mille Miglia and won a notable victory in the 2.0-litre class, again with Fane driving and William James as co-driver.
Chassis 85032 subsequently won a Gold medal in the “German Alpenfahrt” with Fritz Roth and “Blasi” Huber, plus an overall win in the same event in 1939. In autumn of 1939, 85032 was dismantled by the racing division and the car was significantly re-engineered as an all-new open streamliner destined for use as a factory entry in the 1940 Mille Miglia alongside the two factory fixed-head ‘streamliners’.
The beautiful and entirely unique bodywork of ‘85032’ was designed by Wilhelm Kaiser, an experienced member of BMW`s new design department, “Künstlerische Gestaltung”, headed by Chef-Stylist Wilhelm Meyerhuber.
The car was built at the factory racing department in Milbertshofen, Germany. The car’s nickname is derived from the creases on the top of the fenders, referred to as ‘Büegelfalte’ meaning ‘trouser crease’. The genuine, iconic bodywork styling was to become the pattern for a generation of post-war sports cars, an influence seen clearly in cars like the Jaguar XK120 Roadster.
Of significance to BMW historians, the ‘Buegelfalte’ is the only special roadster ever built at the BMW factory in Munich; the two other ”second series” streamline roadsters (after having been assembled) got their final outer Aluminum body skins by independent coachbuilder, Touring of Milano.
After the war in 1945, the car was part of the reparation payments and was given to the UDSSR and ultimately into the hands of Artiom Ivanovich Mikoyan, head of the Mikoyan i Gurevich Design Bureau, best known as the creator of Russian MiG warplanes. His son used the car and eventually traded it with Mr. Giudo Adamson of Riga for a brand new Lada in 1972.
Mr. Adamson kept the car until 2001, when, after the collapse of the “Iron Curtain”, the car was driven from Riga to Munich and stored by BMW in its museum. The current owner bought this important motor car in 2001. A copy of the Büegelfalte was made and now resides in the BMW Museum.
The Büegelfalte joins an impressive lineup of cars consigned to RM’s inaugural Sporting Classics of Monaco event — the same weekend as the 7th Grand Prix Historique de Monaco.
The single-day event is set to present 80 of the world’s finest motor cars to an elite assemblage of automotive enthusiasts and worldwide collectors.
For further information or to discuss consignment opportunities, visit www.rmauctions.com.
Article Last Updated: February 25, 2010.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.