1940 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Kamm Coupé


1940 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Kamm Coupé

1940 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Kamm Coupé

IN 2010 BMW completed an exacting replica of their 328 Kamm Coupé which raced the 1940 Mille Miglia. This was one of five BMWs that paritipated in the race which was eventually won by the 328 Touring Coupé to the upset of the Italian officials. Although BMW credits the design to themselves, this Coupe borrowed many of its elements from the Wendler Coupé built three years earlier.

See full 1940 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Kamm Coupé Gallery here

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The BMW 328 Kamm Coupé is a racing car that represents a seamless blend of function and aesthetic allure. It also underlines how far the development of aerodynamics and lightweight construction had progressed in 1940.

The BMW 328 “Kamm” racing saloon was created entirely at the BMW plant in Munich in the winter of 1939/1940- This is all the more remarkable because all BMW series automobiles originated from the Eisenach factory prior to 1945. At this time, only motorcycles and aeroengines were manufactured in Munich, The aerodynamically designed body of the streamlined “Kamm” racing saloon was constructed on the basis of design specifications drawn up by Professor Wunibald Kamm.

The newly formed “Künstlerische Gestaltung” design department headed by Wilhelm Meyerhuber was therefore asked to draw up a new streamlined body under project number AM 1008.

In order to improve the car’s straightline stability, the chassis was extended by 20 centimetres. The newly developed space frame, made from Elektron, weighed just 30 kilograms. Taken as a whole with the aluminium outer skin, this meant BMW now also had a “superlight” body in its arsenal.

The Kamm Coupé was significantly larger than the comparable Touring variant, but a rigorous adherence to lightweight design principles meant it was also 20 kilos lighter. It took several months to put the car together due to restricted capacity in the prototype construction department. But, in contrast to their Italian counterparts, BMW engineers were able to put their works racing saloon through extensive testing. In late summer 1939 the car was given a thorough examination on the Munich to Salzburg autobahn and further improvements were made to a host of details.

The investment of time and effort was to pay dividends. The Kamm Coupé had much better directional stability and proved to be far less sensitive to side winds. A Cd of approximately 0.25 (measured using a model) was well below the Touring Coupé’s figure of approx. 0.35. The works car also set a new benchmark in terms of speed, hitting a maximum 230 km/h. However, with the outbreak of war nobody knew whether it would ever get the chance to show off its talents.

The lightweight construction measures implemented in this racing car are extremely interesting. The vehicle was given a tubular space frame made of Electron (an alloy comprising 80% magnesium and aluminium) and an outer skin made of aluminium. This meant that the vehicle only weighed some 760 kg. The car was powered by a BMW 328 engine that had been tuned up to generate 136 hp. The Kamm racing saloon was built specially for the Mille Miglia 1940 and delivered extremely promising results during initial tests. However, the car was out of luck in the 1940 Mille Milia and had to retire after suffering a technical defect in the oil system.

BMW was quick to appreciate the unique status of its Mille Miglia cars following the victory in 1940, and they were soon spirited out of Munich into the countryside to prevent them from being destroyed in the war. The evacuation was successful, with all five cars surviving the wartime years virtually unscathed. However, in the turmoil of the immediate post-war period, the collection of silver racers were split up and went their separate ways around the world. Only the Kamm Coupé remained in Germany, former BMW Director of Racing Ernst Loof having acquired the car for his personal use. By this time he had become a carmaker in his own right, supplying hot-heeled Veritas racing sports cars to customers in the emergent Germany of the post-war era. However, financial difficulties were never far away and a few years later he was forced to let the Kamm Coupé go. Sadly, this automotive gem was not destined to enjoy a long life under new ownership, and it was consigned to the scrapheap after an accident in the early 1950s.

The BMW 328 Kamm Coupé is a racing car that represents a seamless blend of function and aesthetic allure. It also underlines how far the development of aerodynamics and lightweight construction had progressed in 1940.

Efforts to rebuild the car have been ongoing since the mid-1990s. Documents from the Group archive and private collectors, computer calculations carried out in the BMW development department, and the skilled hands of body experts and engine specialists have all been employed to prepare the 328 Kamm Coupé for its public unveiling at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. For Karl Baumer this has been an incredible project: “We’ve come up against some major technical challenges, had many discussions and racked up countless hours of research, but when you see the car for the first time you can sense the passion and professionalism invested by all those involved – both all those years ago and today.”

1940 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Kamm Coupé Gallery

See full 1940 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Kamm Coupé Gallery here

In Detail

typeRacing Car
released at1940 Mille Miglia
built atMunich, Germany
coachbuilderBMW
production1
predecessor1937 BMW 328 Wendler Coupé
engineInline-6
positionFront Longitudinal
aspirationNatural
fuel feedthree Downdraft Solex Carburetors
displacement1971 cc / 120.28 in³
power96.9 kw / 130 bhp
specific output65.96 bhp per litre
bhp/weight171.05 bhp per tonne
body / frameAluminum-Magnesium Alloy over Electron Tube Frame
driven wheelsRWD
wheel typeAluminium-Magnesium Discs
front tiresContinental
rear tiresContinental
front brakesAlfin Drums
rear brakesAlfin Drums
f suspensionSwing Axle w/Transverse Leaf Spring
r suspensionLive Axle w/Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs
curb weight760 kg / 1676 lbs
transmissionHurth 4-Speed Manual
final drive3.44:1
drag0.35 Cd