When the foundations were laid for the construction of the BMW 328 in the early 1930s, the car’s creators Rudolf Schleicher and Fritz Fiedler had little idea of the significance the sporty two-seater would one day attain. Several decades on, this Roadster, with its powerful 2-litre six-cylinder motor, is still lauded as the most beautiful and successful sports car of its time. Schleicher and Fiedler made the ideal engineering team for such a project. In addition to their deep knowledge in many areas of automotive construction, the two men could call on many years of experience, a wealth of ideas and, above all, ambition. They complemented each other perfectly, the engine specialist Schleicher blending his talents with Fiedler’s expertise in vehicle construction to outstanding effect.
In the BMW 328 they developed a refined sports car, whose qualities would provide one of the pillars for further developments over the decades that followed. The cars wheeled out for those successful early races were in fact prototype versions developed in the simplest of surroundings. Nowadays the creation of a new car evolves as part of a process costing millions and is drawn out over several years. It includes the contributions of hundreds of engineers and designers working under the strictest secrecy in development centres and design studios. By extreme contrast, the BMW 328 was put together in double-quick time with minimal use of materials and manpower. When Mssrs Schleicher and Fiedler conceived the BMW 328, there was no such thing as market research, a design department or a wind tunnel at BMW, never mind the electronic tools their counterparts take for granted today. Back then, designers were to be found huddled around drawing boards or in the testing workshop, using their hands to lend form to their ideas. That such a successful car was created in this environment highlights the designers’ achievement – the BMW 328 is a masterpiece of the engineering art. If you were to single out one aspect of what makes the BMW 328 so special, it would be the coherence of the overall concept. The sports car was neither overly innovative for its time nor particularly powerful, yet its individual components – the drivetrain, body and chassis – came together to form a superior whole. And it remains a convincing, impressively resolved package today.