One of the most significant racing cars of all time hit the auction block today (May 1st, 2010). Find out what the final bid was after the jump. Automotive Traveler writer Sam Fiorani discovers a rare and unusual pre-war BMW that RM Auctions offered this weekend in Monaco. I will use Sam’s words to describe the car.
In May of 1937, BMW 328 chassis no. 85032 emerged from the factory. This particular 328 was built for Rudolf Schleicher, a former factory motorcycle racer and then-current chief engineer for the company’s racing department. No. 85032 sported a special, bored six-pot engine displacing 1,991 cubic centimeters and capped with an aluminum hemispherical cylinder head. The intake valves operated through short pushrods controlled with the camshaft mounted on the side of the engine block, while the exhaust valves opened and closed via transverse pushrods linked to the intake valves. This complex setup was all the financially strapped company could afford in the era of overhead-cam racing engines. Fueled by three downdraft Solex carburetors, this engine, mated to a Hirth four-speed manual transmission, produced 130 horsepower, 50 more than the standard-production 328 engine.
It also has a racing pedigree, competing in the 1940 Mille Miglia, finishing sixth. The car acquired its name “Bügelfalte” during this engagement, which meant ironing crease, such as that found on dress slacks, due to the crease that ran down the middle of the car. Late word from Sam in reference to the auction came in this afternoon. According to Sam:
After an 11-minute session, the auctioneer switched back and forth through French, English, and Italian as he encouraged three or four bidders to up their bids on this rare BMW. The bidding on lot #297 finished around 2:22pm Eastern time. A final bid of €4,300,000 (£3,840,500 or US$5,835,100) was not enough for the 328MM to find a new home. Perhaps when the market warms up a bit more, this could be a $7-8 million car. But we’ll just have to wait and see.
Many journalist place this car on their list of the 25 finalists for the Car of the Century. I think that’s a bit extreme, but what do you say?