We recently reported that BMW’s long-lost 1940 328 Kamm Coupe race car had been restored in time for the 2010 Concours d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and Milli Miglia road race, not to mention the 70th anniversary of its first and only appearance at Milli Miglia. Today, we’ve learned that the car is in fact an exact replica of the original, which was lost in 1953.
The BMW 328 Kamm Coupe was one of five unique BMWs that competed the 1940 Mille Miglia 1000-mile race. The cars were hidden in rural Germany during World War II but eventually were split up and scattered around the world, with only the Kamm Coupe remaining in Germany with former BMW Director of Racing Ernst Loof. Facing financial hardship, Loof was forced to sell the car, which was later wrecked and consigned to the scrap heap in 1953.
Given the historical significance of the Kamm Coupe, which was named in honor of famed German aerodynamics expert Wunibald Kamm, recreating the car has been a long-time goal of BMW. The movement to actually build the car began with the newly minted BMW Mobile Tradition department in the mid-1990s, but was hampered by the long-ago disappearance of all technical drawings and schematics of the car and a severe shortage of period photos.
The help of a private collector brought enough photos for BMW’s team to create an accurate computer model of the car. A professional restorer was brought on to stretch an original BMW steel frame by nearly 8 inches to recreate the Kamm Coupe’s unique “Elecktron” aluminum space frame. The plan was to drape the steel frame in accurate aluminum body panels to recreate the appearance of the Kamm Coupe, but the project was soon halted and resources shifted to a concurrent project to actually replicate the Elektron frame for a museum exhibit.
The exact replica of the Elektron frame was never meant to be used in a functioning car, but it was wrapped in the appropriate body panels with the help of the Master Craftsman’s College for Vehicle Construction in Leipzig, Leisnig and Erlbach. The body sat on display at BMW’s Leipzig plant for some time before the approach of the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Mille Miglia race began to creep up. Determined to finish the project, BMW handed the body pieces and frame over to master restorer Rene Grosse.
Grosse’s team worked meticulously to graft the body to the frame, then set about recreating every last detail of the original car. Special attention was paid to the Kamm Coupe’s eccentricities, such as its set-back drivetrain and modified rear axle that were unique to the car. With the restoration complete, Grosse handed the car back to BMW at a small ceremony in March.
Following its debut at the 2010 Concours d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como, Italy, this past weekend, the Kamm Coupe will be reunited with the four surviving cars for the 70th anniversary of the Mille Miglia in Brescia, Italy, where they will run the race together again for the first time in seven decades on May 5 to 9.