On the surface, the BMW Concept Coupé unmistakably bears the traits of a racing sports icon. Its bodywork design is oriented on the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé, that legendary two-seater with which Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Bäumer drove home the victory during the Mille Miglia in 1940. Their speed record – average speed: 166.7 km/h – has remained until today. No other Mille Miglia victor – neither before nor since – ever travelled as fast as the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Coupé with its touring body, which was driven by the legendary “racing baron”.
Up until into the 50’s, the BMW 328 was still victorious in international racing sports. It was one of the most successful competitive vehicles in the long BMW motor sports history. On top of that, in 2004 it wrote Mille Miglia history for a second time. The BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé was the first automobile ever to win the historic remake of the Mille Miglia after winning the classical race.
With the BMW Concept Coupé, the automobile developers at the Munich manufacturer are erecting a monument to their predecessors. The study, both optically and technically fascinating, is a symbol of how much the values internalised by the creators of the BMW 328 still determine the work of the engineers today. Just like back then when enthusiasm, the will to win and the willingness to travel new paths led to convincing success during the Mille Miglia, these motives are also the prevailing drive for creating constantly improved automobiles today.
The Mille Miglia has lost none of its fascination, also as a bridge between the traditional and modern automobile age. The once toughest and up to today most legendary automobile road race in the world attracts umpteen thousands of motor sports fans to northern Italy year for year. In the towns and cities along the route between Brescia and Rome, they celebrate automobile history in its most exclusive form. That which began in 1927 as a long-distance race over 1,600 kilometres – or put better: 1,000 miles – has been being held since 1977 over the same distance as a consistency test for historic vehicles. Only those vehicle models are allowed to take part that were already at the start during the classical races. Thus, the Mille Miglia unifies past and present in a worldwide unique event for automobile enthusiasts. In 2006, classical motor sport meets up with practiced tradition at eye level for the first time. 24 long-distance races were driven in northern Italy between 1927 and 1957; the new version will be held for the 24th time. 375 vehicles have been approved to start in the Mille Miglia 2006; 22 of them bear the white-blue BMW logo.
Preserving the automobile tradition plays an important role at BMW. Successful models from back then continually deliver inspirations for modern vehicle concepts. Adhering to indispensable values such as sportiness, efficiency and shear driving pleasure yield an orientation for the path into a successful future. The Mobile Tradition in the BMW Group has therefore made its mission grooming, securing and keeping alive the history of the brand and the vehicles with which it is associated. Since 1994, all BMW Group activities are being coordinated with that which is associated with the history. The Mobile Tradition is the soul and memory of the enterprise and preserver of its history, its brands and its products.
The BMW Concept Coupé Mille Miglia 2006 will never win a race but the two-seater is still a symbol for motor sports, racing success and the brand and spirit that have moved the engineers and drivers to perennially great achievements for decades. With its unique concept study, the developers and designers in the BMW Group are showing how traditional values, modern expertise and visions can be unified into a fascinating vehicle. The past, present and future of automobile engineering are concentrated in the Concept Coupé Mille Miglia 2006. The study documents what it means for an automobile manufacturer to reflect on its historical strengths, to take advantage of current technical competency and to open up tomorrow’s opportunities already today.
The Concept Coupé Mille Miglia 2006 is neither a copy of a successful racing car nor is it being used as a herald for future series models. Rather, the two-seater pays homage to the outstanding achievements of those engineers who helped BMW gain a leading position in racing sports and in automobile engineering decades ago. In a time when the competence of a manufacturer was much more tightly woven with racing sports, vehicles arose that continue to serve as milestones for technical progress, even today. The principles that led to victory back then have not lost any of their validity. They are still the drive to construct especially dynamic, attractive and successful automobiles.
The Concept Coupé points out these parallels and, moreover, elucidates that the traditional values will continue to last into the future.
Sportsmanlike ambition, the will to win and creativity secured the BMW 328 Coupé success during the Mille Miglia 1940. Its creators used the most progressive automobile engineering methods of the time in an intelligent manner to win the toughest and most prestigious road race in the world.
The two-seater was given a lightweight chassis manufactured in the Milanese bodywork forgery Touring on a lattice frame. The power delivered by its 2.0-litre six-cylinder in-line engine was increased from originally 80 to 136 PS.
At the finish, the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé with Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Bäumer went through the finish line as the victor – more than a quarter of an hour in front of the second place car.
The character of the BMW 328 and its successes have stood the test of time. After all, the speed record with an average speed of 166.7 km/h has never been broken. And its fundamental properties – impressive engine power, high efficiency, lightweight and optimal aerodynamics – still continue to offer a promising recipe, and not only in motor sports. All that is reason enough to erect a monument to the BMW 328 and its creators. The two-seater was not only the brainchild for the design of the BMW Concept Coupé; it also supplied the inspiration for the study’s inherent notion of heritage. From the long engine bonnet and the generously sweeping front wheel housings through the strongly recessed greenhouse with its divided windscreen up to the wings that arch over the rear wheels covering them completely: the streamlined body of the racing sport legend has been completely reabsorbed in the BMW Concept Coupé.
But at the same time, the characteristic basic design is being interpreted in a modern manner. The aerodynamics, already distinctive in the 1940 Mille Miglia
winner was improved even further. The insights about airflow and its influence on the vehicle’s uplift pressure and downforce gained in the meantime have also opened up new opportunities. While optimising the aerodynamics, the body designers now especially concentrate on the side and rear sections of the vehicle. The goal is to conduct the airflow in perfect harmony and turbulence-free up to the tail. A defined flow separation was to be created only there. Simultaneously, not only is the aerodynamic drag effectively reduced but greater uplift is generated at the same time, improving road holding and thus the Coupé’s driving dynamics.
Five each optically impressive air intakes near the A-pillars also control the flow movements in the front end. These gills are a venerable element typical for sports cars and are being fostered by BMW in current models also.
In the BMW Concept Coupé, these ports, arranged in a very slim Z-line, fulfil a two-fold function. On the one hand, they lead off the air used for engine cooling back out through the BMW kidney. In addition, underpressure is generated in the front wheelhouses at the same time. This effect reduces the turbulences at the wheel housings and simultaneously amplifies the vehicle’s contact pressure with the road.
The entire trim over the rear wheels and the extremely gently coasting tail are additional design elements based on both the traditional and the latest aerodynamic findings. A reverse V-form
thus arises as the sum total, minimising undesired turbulences and concentrating the flow separation to a tightly restricted area. Trimmings placed on the underbody and diffusers made of carbon on the front and rear aprons also ensure defined air conductance in those parts of the body that are not openly seen.
In the body design, the functions needed for positioning the engine, drive units and passenger sections are combined into an aesthetic whole together with the aerodynamic requirements. At the very first glance, the BMW Concept Coupé impresses as a highly dynamic driving machine.
The special appeal of the two-seater grows out of this purposeful appearance.
The 20-inch alloy wheels, specifically developed for the BMW Concept Coupé, fit into the image of its powerful proportions. Tyres dimensioned 245/40 R 20
are mounted on them. Instead of doors, the study bears permanently integrated sidewalls, contributing to weight reduction on the one hand and to increasing torsional stiffness on the other. To let the pilot access the interior, the entire cockpit swings up. The rear section of the concept study is also distinguished through design elements in which the aesthetics are tightly connected with their function. The headlight panel, made from LED elements
is likewise conducted in a gentle Z-curve horizontally
tail. The combination of the most modern illumination engineering and their unusual design unites two functional advantages: due to the extremely fast response time of the LED’s and through the increased conspicuousness of their asymmetrical layout, the brake lights can be perceived earlier than with conventional lighting.
The BMW Concept Coupé does not deny its inspirational source
Still, its body form is not dictated by nostalgia, but rather by the endeavour for forward-looking interpretations for typical BMW design themes. The study is proof that the vehicle designers at BMW have a grip on the art of accepting traditional impulses and letting them flow into new designs with the help of modern expertise. That is the only way that concepts can mature – by combining the power of history with the fascination of visions and letting emotions be awakened at the same time.
While developing the BMW Concept Coupé, traditional methods were applied, which continue to be an essential component of the design process for the BMW Group even today. Emotional models based on emotional designs emerge from the hands of experienced modellers.
Whereas the nearly unlimited possibilities of high-tech designing on a computer always involve the danger of randomness, in traditional body design only consequent implementation of an idea leads to the desired goal.
That is also a reason that the design models for all BMW Group models emerge made-by-hand even today. During series development, this is done with clay models – a malleable Plasticine mass. For the Concept Coupé, the designers fell back on even more traditional methods: modelling with plaster. This material entails fixed work rhythms during the application, shaping and hardening of the material. Each and every step demands a high degree of concentration. During both of these optically and haptically tangible processes of evolution, the designers form an especially tight relationship to their design object. One can understand how – and perhaps also why – the body designers of past generations were able to create true icons of sports car construction even without the availability of digital design.
During the material selection, the developers of the BMW Concept Coupé gave themselves the same task that inspired the creators of the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé to unconventional solutions. An extremely light chassis should emerge – from the available materials best suited to this purpose. At Touring in Milan, an aluminium shell was stretched over a lattice frame to accomplish that. Nowadays plastics developed especially for chassis construction set the standard for lightness, load ratings and design freedom. Accordingly, that kind of material was chosen for the Concept Coupé.
The entire body of the concept vehicle is made out of a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). The shell is painted fine silver, a full-gloss paint colour with extremely fine pigments. In this way, the finish awakens the memory of traditional colourings, but when inspected more closely it is clearly the result of the most modern surface-aesthetics engineering.
The BMW Concept Coupé unifies the best of two worlds – and even more. Its design provides hints of design and function opportunities
, which can be made practical for series production vehicles used only in the far future.
These visions are already fascinating today. For example, the front of the Concept Coupé ensures a striking appearance in a completely new manner, but especially guarantees better vision. At first glance the “face” of the study appears familiar, its “eyes” remind one of the circular headlamp used in the BMW 328. But they are not integrated into the chassis – rather they have been attached as flat elements. Modern LED technology facilitates accommodating powerful light sources in comparatively small units. This progress provides the designs with new possibilities. The forms and linework from the engine hood to the wheelhouses in the Concept Coupé can be continued up through the front apron without being interrupted by the headlight units. The optically dominating role on the front end is taken over by the BMW kidney. More than ever, it characterises the typical BMW “face” by letting the headlights take over the role of the “eye”, despite the innovative execution.
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