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BMW 328 Kamm Coupé. Aerodynamic experiment at the Mille Miglia

The 1940 Mille Miglia was dominated by the outstanding performance of the five BMW 328s. Three of them were spiders, the winner a Touring-bodied berlinetta and the remaining an aerodynamic test by BMW itself. Its name is BMW 328 Kamm Coupé, and it is part of a history whose influence can be seen in the Toyota Prius or the Citroën CX.

During the Third Reich, sport in Germany became politicized in the service of the Nazi party. An easily visible fact during the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Used by Hitler as a loudspeaker to give credence to his racial theories, here huge propaganda efforts were made ranging from documentaries to Leni Riefenstahl to the scenery designed by Albert Speer. Examples of technique as a means to certain political ends, which was also replicated in the world of motorsports.

In fact, it is no coincidence that during the 30s Germany was the scene of multiple speed records with Mercedes or Auto Union vehicles. Some as elaborate as the W125 that exceeded 432 km / h and others as grotesque as the T80. The project that tried to exceed 700 km / h by applying a 603-liter DB44 engine to the chassis covered with one of the most striking bodies of all time. An excess that finally could not be released due to the outbreak of war, but that had the personal support of Hitler with the coordination of Ferdinand Porsche.

All this to use the mechanical achievements as a showcase of Nazism, which was also behind the effort expended by BMW in the face of the Mille Miglia of 1940. Test to which it attended with five 328 models. Three of them spider and the other two special versions: the Berlinetta Touring - winner with the Hanstein / Bäumer pair - and the Kamm Coupé. One of the most interesting automobiles in the history of aerodynamics, which was destroyed in 1953. Although last 2010 BMW Classic made a magnificent copy from plans and photographic material.

BMW 328 KAMM COUPÉ. A MILESTONE IN THE HISTORY OF AERODYNAMICS

Even in the 50s, bravado like the one attributed to Enzo Ferrari with his "Aerodynamics is for those who don't know how to build engines." However, not only science but the bulk of automobile manufacturers have put these ideas in the drawer of oblivion. And it is that, as much as it may bother the friends of the large figures, the truth is that power alone is not enough. Careful aerodynamics are essential for a racing car to be effective, which sticks the car to the ground like limpet in the curves while making it cut the wind gracefully in the straights.

Precisely the aerodynamic combination that every car designed for endurance tests must have. Races such as the Mille Miglia, where intricate mountain curves were combined with fast flat straights over 1600 kilometers. For that very reason, BMW decided to test the new aerodynamic theories of Wunibald Kamm in the 1940 edition. Being especially interested in the potential that these would give her car on the straights, reducing the drag coefficient to make it run above 230 km / h. Something for which its huge and raised rear was needed, which contradicts the principles of Teardrop bodies.

Those that end with a smooth and long slope of the rear until it melts into a peak. A shape that, viewed from the side, resembled that of a raindrop. The one that at that time was considered the most perfect in relation to not leaving turbulence that would trap the good running of the vehicle. Just what Wunibald Kamm contradicted, which I bet on a raised rear with an abrupt cut. The design that, finally, has ended up being more accepted. Being applied in vehicles such as the Ford GT40 or the Ferrari 250 GTO, but also in others as popular as the Toyota Prius.

OF ABANDONMENTS AND DISAPPEARANCES. THE BMW 328 KAMM COUPÉ AFTER 1940

Although the BMW 328 Kamm Coupé was the only one of the five BMWs to leave the 1940 Mille Miglia, the result was satisfactory for the team. In the first place because he had been part of a historical squad, which achieved victory but also third, fifth and sixth place. But above all because the aerodynamic tests had yielded very interesting conclusions to reach high speeds on the straight. Something for which, yes, the battle of the Kamm Coupé had to be extended by almost 20 centimeters to improve its poise. Aware of having made history, the BMW team returned to a Germany that was preparing for the immediate Second World War.

328 kamm

For this reason, and knowing the enormous value of those BMW 328s, those responsible for the brand's competition program hid them in secret warehouses far from the highly visible Munich factory. Priority objective of the allied bombings, as well as of the investigations that both the Soviets, Americans and English carried out as they liberated territory from the Nazi government. Nevertheless, the cars were found during the postwar period. Thus, the spiders ended up distributed between England, the United States and the USSR. Meanwhile, the Berlinetta Touring remained in the hands of a BMW executive who took it to America when he decided to emigrate.

As for the BMW 328 Kamm Coupé, this was the only one that remained in Germany when it was acquired by Ernst Loof. Former competition director, who had to get rid of him due to financial problems derived from opening his own sports company. Circumstance that led the Kamm Coupé to new hands, which crashed it in an accident that ended up taking it to scrap around 1953. A disastrous end that BMW Classic has patched up with the construction of a magnificent replica last 2010. The successful tribute to a car whose echoes you can see in cars as common as the Citroën GS or the Audi A2.

Photographs: BMW Classic

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Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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