Another day up here in MotorMartin Towers and interrupting an interesting EBay session, (sub £700 Escort Cabriolet, you’re out there somewhere!) the overexcited news feed started chirruping away, signalling the arrival of something important. With MotorMartin’s love of classic motor vehicles the following was of great interest. 

As most of you will already know, the Mille Miglia was the toughest endurance race in the world for three decades and that since 1988, it has been held as a reliability and regularity race for historic automobiles. It is a veritable feast for classic fans who line the 1000 mile route through Northern Italy in large numbers. The organisers have let it be known to MotorMartin that there were around 450 historic sports cars taking part in this year’s event, driving from Brescia to Rome and back from 19 to 22 May 2016. The regulations state that only vehicles of the type that were registered at least once for the Mille Miglia between 1927 and 1957 are permitted to take part and that includes the BMW 328. This year, BMW Group Classic sent six automobiles from its collection to line up at the start to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the legendary roadster.

The BMW Group informed MotorMartin that the sporty sextet from Munich reminds us of the historic link between the BMW 328 and the Mille Miglia. The first appearance of the roadster – which debuted at the Eifel Race in 1936 – at the Mille Miglia ended in 1938 with a win in the class for vehicles with maximum capacity of 2.0 litres. Two years later, even the competitors powered by larger and more powerful engines did not stand a chance. Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Bäumer secured a win in the overall placings, driving their BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé with a lead of around 15 minutes ahead of the fastest follower in the field. Three other BMW 328 automobiles crossed the finishing line in third, fifth and sixth place, so that the team award also went to the BMW works team. Incredible.

This triumph, BMW say, was not achieved with superior engine power, but with optimised weight, low drag, superb reliability and perfect road holding as these qualities enabled the BMW 328 to conquer a firm place in the history of the Mille Miglia. Amazingly, This year’s contingent from BMW Group Classic included the BMW 328 Berlin-Rome Touring Roadster built in 1937 and a BMW 328 Mille Miglia Roadster from 1939. A team from automobile care specialist Sonax, long-time partner of BMW Group Classic, also entered the race driving a red BMW 328 from the Munich collection.

The Mille Miglia 2016 started in Brescia, Northern Italy, in keeping with tradition whilst The first of four stages began in the afternoon of 19 May 2016 and went through Verona and Ravenna and onto the Adriatic coast at Rimini. On the second day of the competition, the field initially passed San Marino, taking in Macerata and Ascoli before experiencing a rapturous reception for both the cars and their drivers in Rome. A few days later, Poggibonsi in the heart of Tuscany was the destination for their midday stop. The afternoon journey took the competitors over the legendary Futa Pass and shortly afterwards over the Raticosa Pass, before reaching Parma in the evening. On 22 May 2016, the final stage of the Mille Miglia was routed via Piacenza and, after a diversion to the race track at Monza, back to the start of the 1000 mile drive in Brescia. What a journey.

The following teams lined up at the start of the Mille Miglia 2016, driving vehicles from BMW Group Classic:

123 Dirk Hattenhauer, Tim Lücke                 BMW 328

124 Markus Schramm, Ted Gushue              BMW 328 Berlin-Rom Roadster

126 Sergio Solero, Gianluca Pellegrini         BMW 328

131 Andreas Wendt, Burkhard Riering         BMW 328

139 Bernhard Kuhnt, Volkan Demirkusak  BMW 328

140 Graeme Grieve, Jason Barlow                 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Roadster

Well done then to The BMW Group for allowing the rest of us to revel in the sights and sounds of these amazing race cars in such a historic setting. Museum or open road? I know which I prefer.

Where will you go?

Leave a Reply