THE EX LORD HOWE 1937 BMW/FRAZER-NASH 328 SPORTS TWO SEATER
Chassis No. 85037
White with red leather interior.
Engine: six cylinder, overhead valve, 1,970cc, est.90bhp; Gearbox: four speed manual with overdrive; Suspension: front-independent, rear-torsion bar; Brakes: four wheeldrum. Right hand drive.
The revolutionary 328 made its debut at the German Eifelrennen in the summer of 1936 (which it won) and went on to a magnificent all round career as a rally, reliability trial and racing sports car as well as a superb everyday road car. An example won the 1940 Mille Miglia and countless other races. The design was very advanced for the time and included such features as a tubular ladder-type frame, hemispherical combustion chambers, independent front suspension, hydraulic brakes and a simple but attractive streamlined body. Power-to-weight ratio was impressive, since the engine developed 80hp in untuned form and the cars weighed only 1,700 lbs. Many of the great racing drivers of the 1930's campaigned 328's - including Britain's Richard Seaman.
The relatively soft lines, smooth suspension and silky engine were at odds with the tradition of British sports cars, but rapidly won numerous converts. Amongst them were the Aldingtons of Frazer-Nash who were so impressed by the 328 that they acquired the British rights to the car.
Unfortunately the Second World War put an end to the production of these fantastic cars, after only 462 had been sold. The car offered here is one of these FN-BMWs. Ben Rose had been searching for an excellent example of these great sports cars, particularly one that had an interesting history. He eventually discovered 85037, U.K. Registered FMT 524 for sale in the U.K. and negotiated to purchase the car.
FMT 524 was purchased new by Viscount Curzon, later titled Lord Howe. Lord Howe was from a prestigious motoring family, his father being the winner of the 1931 Le Mans and President of the BRDC. Initially, Lord Howe was impressed by the 328's performance in the hands of A.F.P. Fane, a shareholder of Frazer Nash as well as a works driver/salesman. Fane and his wife, Evelyn were a well known fixture in the sports car scene of the mid-1930s. They are photographed with the 328 in Michael Frostick's book on the BMW. The Fane's entered and won the Eastbourne Concours with FMT 524 in 1937 and shortly thereafter sold the very same car to Lord Howe.
Lord Howe had the car painted in the family racing colors of Oxford blue with silver wheels. Additionally he had the wheels drilled out and lightened for competition use. Lord Howe campaigned it throughout the UK including some events at Brooklands. In a letter recounting his ownership of the car Howe recalled, I competed at Brooklands in numerous hill climbs and speed trails in the country, and also of course used it as a road car on every occasion, the car never let me down and was always serviced most carefully...I had a flying half mile at around 90 m.p.h. at Brooklands against a head wind...
During the War Lord Howe was stationed near Okinowa, and as a matter of coincidence so was Ben Rose. Upon his return from the War, Lord Howe sold the car and its whereabouts were unknown until it was discovered by well known restorer Tony Mitchell who sold the car to the Hon Colin Buckmaster. Mitchell undertook a complete nut and bolt restoration, the details of which are chronicled in the file. During this time a new Moss gearbox with overdrive was fitted, a recognized replacement for the original, which was the car's "Achilles Heel". Also as was very common the original head was replaced with the much improved Bristol unit. Another modification was the reshaping of the floor trays and seats to accommodate Buckmaster's six foot five frame. The 328 was offered in a Christie's Beaulieu sale in 1973 where it sold to an enthusiast in North Yorkshire, Mr David Benson. During recent telephone conversations both Mr Benson and Buckmaster fondly recall FMT 524 as being a superb driver. Following a brief ownership by a prominent London dealer the car was acquired by Mr.Rose in 1976. During Mr. Rose's ownership this famous 328 has been actively campaigned throughout the midwest in vintage racing events - often driven to the track, raced, and then driven home.
In 1990, during a hard fought race, the 328 threw a rod, and the engine block was removed and refitted with a new block. The original block with matching number (and hole!) comes with the car should the new owner decide to undertake the repair. This lovely example of one of the greatest pre-war sports cars has an interesting history and is eligible to be used either as a vintage race car or on one of the many retrospective touring events such as the Mille Miglia and Colorado Grand.