1938 BMW 328 Roadster
s/n 85123, Engine no. 21758
White with Blue Leather Interior
Arguably BMW’s greatest car of all time and possibly Germany’s most important pre-war sports car, the BMW 328 is a technically and aesthetically stunning machine with proper competition laurels. Conceived primarily with competition in mind, the 328 was initially revealed not at an auto show but at the Nurburgring in June of 1936, on the eve of the International Eifel Race. The car of course won on its first outing, marking the start of an impressive series of hundreds of victories that included class wins at the Mille Miglia and Le Mans in 1938 and 1939, as well as outright victory in the Mille Miglia in 1940. Throughout this period, the 328 was virtually unbeatable in the 2.0 liter class, and often embarrassed much more powerful cars.
After the war, the car’s legacy lived on for over 15 additional years, thanks to Bristol, the British aircraft manufacturer which acquired the plans to the excellent BMW engine and produced it until 1961. Available in a variety of specifications, the engine powered the Bristol 403 and 404, as well as the Arnolt Bristol and the AC Bristol, which replaced the comparatively anemic AC Ace powerplant. The continued relevance of the engine, fully 25 years after its introduction, is a testament to BMW’s engineering.
For many years, this particular car was owned and raced by Ernest Weil, a well-known Ferrari and BMW enthusiast from Colorado who was also an active racer. Weil competed with the car the car in a variety of events, ranging from the Monterey Historics to Lime Rock in Connecticut. Weil acquired the car in a state of disrepair from a BMW employee in July of 1970. In 2006, the car’s current owner acquired the car from Weil’s widow. In the current owner’s stewardship, the car has been subject to further extensive restorative work and is a superb-running turnkey example.
This car’s early history is unknown, although this same chassis number is reputed to also appear on a Veritas Rennsport. After the Second World War, there was a paucity of new cars available, and a company named Veritas was formed by two ex-BMW employees who had been instrumental in the creation of the prewar 328. During the early postwar years, Veritas constructed sports cars by removing the bodies from prewar BMW 328s and fitting the chassis with handsome new aerodynamic bodies with integral fenders. About two dozen such cars were built, leaving as many 328 bodies without chassis. It was not unusual for these bodies to be reinstalled on BMW 319 chassis, which were essentially identical to the 328. Add in hydraulic brakes and the motor from a BMW 327/328 (virtually indistinguishable from that of the 328) and the result is a car composed entirely of prewar BMW components to replacing that which was lost in the construction of the Veritas Rennsport.
Marque experts have suggested this may well be the origin of this particular car. Numbers located on various components include; “85123” stamped on upward facing frame tube, right side, just behind the radiator, “355” stamped to the bottom of both the left and right side doors, “17” stamped to the glove box hinge, a well worn and difficult number on the engine lid which starts with a “1XX”, “21785” stamped to a raised pad on the engine block, “85123” stamped into the screwed in firewall plate, mounted on the right side of the car, “85123” (chassis number) and “21785” (engine number) stamped to a post war issued place mounted to the transmission tunnel (these plates were known to have been issued by the Allied forces in Berlin to re-register cars.) Whatever the origin of this car, it is unambiguously constructed of prewar BMW components, and its provenance from the last 43 years is well-known and respected by 328 historians and enthusiasts.
After restoring the car, Weil eventually set about using it in competition, making adjustments along the way to improve the car’s on track behavior: a set of carefully-made cast aluminum knock-off wheels of his own design (Weil was an aeronautical engineer) to allow more appropriate track tires, reinforcements to the internals of the rear end, and a different gearbox with closer ratios. Although it is now common to fit a fully synchronize Volvo M40 gearbox in 328s, Weil pioneered the application in this exact car in the 1970s. This eliminates the large gear ratio gap between third and fourth gears while also making parts availability a non-issue. Weil was obsessive about making no permanent changes to the car, and took care not to drill a single hole in any 328 part during this process. To fit the gearbox, he fabricated an adaptor plate and a rear engine mount from aircraft aluminum.
Weil died in the summer of 1989, and his widow Decker took up the torch of looking after the car. She drove the car in the very first running of the Colorado Grand, and also competed in the Mille Miglia Storica in Italy, and ran ten subsequent Colorado Grands, along with many other events, almost all of which were 1000 mile+ tours around the United States.
Under the care of the current owner, the car has been maintained in excellent running condition regardless of the effort involved. His stewardship has placed particular emphasis on sourcing correct pieces, no matter how small, to bring the car to its current authentic presentation. Since 2006, the car has had nearly $130,000 in work, including a completely rebuilt engine basically to Bristol D2 specification, rebuilt carburetors, rebuilt transmission, new master cylinder, rebuilt front suspension, and attention to most other major systems, including the fueling, cooling, charging, and electrical systems. The wiring harness was replaced, and new Dunlop Racing tires fitted. Mechanical work was performed by the famed Phil Reilly & Co., with many parts supplied from Germany by Feierabend Klassik-Technik. The interior was also retrimmed during this period.
Overall, the car is in superb mechanical condition and has a lovely cosmetic patina. The body is generally in very good shape, with straight panels, although the door gaps are a bit wide and there are minor cracks in the front fender and driver’s door. The paint is in good shape overall, with a few marks from use, and the glass is generally excellent, other than a hole in the left headlamp. The cast wheels are outstanding, as is the trim; although there are a few chips on the wheel badges. The chrome is very good across the board, and a pair of powerful Hella auxiliary fog lamps has been discreetly fitted behind the grilles.
Inside, the seats and door panels are in very good condition, having been recently redone, while the balance of the interior is tidy. The dashboard is in excellent shape, and great care was taken recently to ensure the correct operation of the controls, down to the turn indicators. The instruments are a beautiful representation of the simple and elegant Bauhaus aesthetic, while the ergonomics are surprisingly modern in terms of seat, pedal, and steering wheel placement. The unfinished floor boards are representative of the car’s competition aesthetic, as is the small split windscreen.
The engine compartment appears well-kept with some patina, and is generally correct for a 328. The car does have a spin-on oil filter conversion to ease maintenance.
The car is an absolute joy to drive. The fully-synchronized transmission is quite smooth in operation, with crisp actuation from the long shift lever. The engine starts easily, is very well-tuned, and produces a fantastic exhaust note that puts contemporary Jaguars on notice at the very least, if not to shame. The torquey engine pulls easily from all speeds, while the brakes are solidly reassuring and stop the car evenly. The chassis is well-composed, and the steering is extremely direct with no slop, allowing the driver to place the car easily. Every interaction surprises the driver by how modern the 328 feels, and immediately puts the driver at ease. The overall sensation is of a well-engineered and coherent car that makes driving it a true pleasure.
This is an exceptional and very rare opportunity to acquire one of the greatest sports cars of all time, one that has been thoughtfully engineered to improve its operation without adulterating its core essence. This particular car is in excellent mechanical condition and a joy to drive, making it ideal for road or track events. The car should be widely event eligible, as demonstrated by its extensive participation in the Colorado Grand and Monterey Historics, and the car was also accepted to other prestigious American touring events including the California Mille. Please note that this car does not have a FIVA passport and that overseas buyers would need to acquire this license to compete in European events. The car is includes an extensive spares package and documentation with articles about this car and its previous owner, articles about the 328, and service records outlining the superb care this car has received in recent years. Included among the many spares are ZF, Hurth, and Volvo gearboxes, (one with bell housing), 9 steel wheels (used), 1 cast alloy wheel center (new), 2 differential assemblies (used) 2 crown gears (new), 4 oil pans (used), one cylinder head (used), 1 set of headlights (used), 5 alloy wheel halves (new), 2 used brake drums, 1 used clutch disc, 1 rear axle seal (new), various steering rod end parts, various bearings, and various suspension parts including 2 lever shocks (used).
Although just 464 328s were built, their competition success and embodiment of the definition of the sports car means that their impact has been much more significant. In many ways, it is the consummate sports car: beautiful, technically interesting, virtually unbeatable in period competition, and most importantly, incredibly satisfying to drive.
Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.