In 1939, the BMW 328 Roadster, with three cars numbered 26, 27 and 28, won the Mille Miglia, placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 2.0 liter class. The same three 328 Roadsters proceeded to place 1st, 2nd and 3rd at Le Mans just three months later. BMW seemed to be on top of the world at that time and its 328 Roadster was quickly becoming a legend. Then WWII happened and those three cars were lost in the madness of the war. Or so people thought.
BMW has car number 26 and it resides in Munich in the company’s museum. It’s a car we’ve seen before. Car number 28 was bought by Denis Jenkinson in the ’60s. But car number 27 has been missing since the war. That’s because it ended up in America, cloaked as a road car.
Last year, Tim Fagan, working with Daniel Rapley, uncovered a BMW 328 in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Despite it looking like an average, road-going BMW 328 Roadster (if you can call any 328 average), they thought it could be 27. So they rang the BMW museum in Munich and an expert by the name of Klaus Kutscher was sent out to inspect the car. After several silent hours of careful inspecting, Kutscher gave them the nod. Their BMW 328 Roadster was indeed number 27.
No one knows how or why it ended up in the ‘States. It’s possible someone smuggled it out of Germany during the war. When you consider the fact that this specific Mille Miglia and Le Mans-winning BMW 328 Roadster was converted back to road-car configuration, which seems like whoever brought it to America was trying to hide its true identity. The Nazis weren’t averse to taking valuable items that weren’t theirs, especially items that had any sort of German pride. So maybe whoever brought it to America was trying to save it. And save it, they did.
So where is number 27 now? It’s been sold to an American collector who is restoring it back to its Le Mans configuration. Once finished, it will likely show up at several Concours events in the future. Expect to see it at Pebble Beach or Ville d’Este.