By on April 17, 2013

As the owner of a geriatric, but otherwise well maintained car, you know that getting parts can be a bitch. Depending on company policy, ex-factory supply of parts can cease after 12, or, if you are the lucky customer of a more dedicated maker, 15 years after the end of regular production.  BMW now goes against that trend and offers parts for a car that went out of style 73 years ago.

Manufactured between 1936 and 1940, the BMW 328 ranked as a dream sports car in its days and remained a dream for most. With a total run of just 464 units, it was a rarity even during its production years. A substantial number is still around today. Most suffered from the unavailability of the original Hurth gearbox, which led to the use of synchro gearboxes from other manufacturers and the committing of a cardinal sin amongst collectors: A departure from the true original.

73 years after production of the 328 stopped,  BMW Classic and supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG laid up a small production run of 55 gearboxes. According to BMW Classic spokesman Stefan Behr, the units are not remanufactured, but new: “What’s special – apart from the technical complexity – is the fact that the parts are approved by FIVA and FIA. Cars with the unit may start in races sanctioned by these bodies,” Behr said.

Through optimized materials and a reinforced bearing for the second gear, the “new-old” gearbox is even better than the original, but it complies faithfully with the factory status in the later production period of the BMW 328. The first prototypes of the new-old gearbox already demonstrated their reliability in the 2012 Mille Miglia, the world’s best-known classic car race.

The gearbox joins a growing catalog of some 40,000 parts maintained by BMW Classic as replacements for the many BMW collector’s items out there. Other makers pay homage to heritage in glossy brochures and glitzy museums, BMW actually keeps history alive.

BMW does not only have an open ear for the needs of owners of their historic cars, it also is receptive to questions of TTAC’s commentariat. Asked a few times what the gearbox would cost, and countering the rumor spread by Cjmadura that its $50,000 , Herr Behr revealed that the price of the gearbox is “19,748.33 EUR, in Germany, including VAT.”  That would translate to $25,755.34, or only half of what Cjmadura figured.

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31 Comments on “BMW Re-Releases 73 Year Old Gearbox...”


  • avatar
    Syke

    BMW Mobile Traditions (that’s what they were calling it ten years ago when I worked for Ducati Richmond) covers all BMW cars going back to the 328, and motorcycles from the ’46 /2’s. Any part, made to at least original specifications. And with delivery time that’s quite reasonable.

    I remember the division as being one of the more profitable sections of the BMW organization. It makes me wonder why other car and motorcycle manufacturers can’t have the intelligence to follow. It certainly would make my current job at a Honda/Yamaha dealership a lot easier when I’m in the parts department.

    Then again, BMW has had the advantage (on the motorcycle side, at least) of only making a couple of different engines, etc. Not like Honda who’s got a couple of dozen non-interchangeable motors in any given model year.

    It’s nice to know that BMW hasn’t completely forgotten its roots – they’ll still support the guys who want to keep “The Ultimate Driving Machine” on the road and running.

    • 0 avatar
      ToyotaSlave

      Syke, my guess is that other car and motorcycle manufacturers got afraid of the cost of holding parts inventory. Anybody can fill a warehouse full of automotive parts but nobody can predict when all these parts would turn into sales $$.
      It’s interesting when you said BMW Mobile Traditions is one of the more profitable division. That means BMW has figured out what’s the carrying cost and transfer it to the end customer (good learnings for anybody in the business). As well as the necessary market analysis to see which parts move faster than others (but this is after you have sales history).
      Sadly, I don’t think this will carry over to Toyota or Honda or any brand (no matter how big their pocket is) that’s not associated as “enthusiast” or “classic” cars. People will try to scrounge any parts – OEM be damned – for non-enthusiast brands. There is little incentive to carry parts inventory that covers all your product of the past 70+ years.

      Domestic seems to be different though…

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      umm, yeah…no one does this…Not like you can restore a Mustang around a good door handle or build a Camaro from a catalog without actually owning a Camaro.

      • 0 avatar
        brokeguy

        Actually, you can do just that. There’s a company called Dynacorn that makes reproduction Mustang and Camaro body shells, and companies like Year One and National Parts Depot make reproduction parts. Other companies have NOS parts they bought from old dealer stock and GM has a restorations parts arm now. With the boomer generation “reliving” their golden years there is BIG money in offering restoration parts for domestic vehicles, even pickup trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          Mark_Miata

          Same thing goes for a number of classic British cars – you can get a complete brand new body shell for an MGB or an original Mini, and pretty much any panel or part you want for most postwar roadsters.

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    “Transporting yuppies and those with upward-mobile aspirations since 1936.”

    This is pretty cool though.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      “Transporting yuppies and those with upward-mobile aspirations since 1936.”

      You have to be cautious with your upward-mobie aspirations though, otherwise you’ll wind up with the Benz.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Kudos to BMW to taking care of ALL their owners. (Same goes for Mercedes.)

    Is there a list of other manufacturers’ policies on parts availability? I’ve heard Ford is notoriously bad about it, but I don’t know for sure.

    Another issue is computer support as today’s cars get old. I am firmly of the opinion that technology makes cars MORE, not less, reliable in general, even with added “complexity”. I also know that third-party solutions out out there, i.e. VAG-COM for VW Group products. However, say someone needs a keyless ignition type key made 10-15 years from now, which I believe are restricted to dealers…what do you think will happen?

    • 0 avatar
      glwillia

      That’s one of the reasons why I love my 1994 E420. It’s modern enough to have ABS, EFI and R134 A/C, but old enough so that the electronics can be fixed with a soldering iron. Plus it’s a Mercedes, so I know it’ll get OEM support for at least the next couple of decades.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Meh, either the keyless system will be cracked by then, or the OEM setup will be bypassed by some universal retrofit kit.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      That one’s surprisingly easy. Most manufacturers utilize a “private” digital key, which in combination with a chassis identifier, can be used to re-create a working physical igntion key. All a manufacturer would have to do is entrust/assign a 3rd party with their digital keys from a particular production run, and Voila… you’ve got a source for new ignition keys.

      • 0 avatar
        LeBaron

        I saw that in action a few weeks back. One of our rental Prius went and lost it’s keys. The mobile locksmith recreated a key from information on the door cylinder and programed a new FOB from information the car fed to his laptop. 30 minutes later we had a running car.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      When there is a will, there is a hack. See here: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/piston-slap-the-cadillac-hack/

  • avatar

    ” Other makers pay homage to heritage in glossy brochures and glitzy museums, BMW actually keeps history alive.”

    I’m not sure that this is entirely fair to other car companies. While you may not be able to walk into a Ford dealer and buy a brand new top-loader three speed, all three of the domestic car companies will sell you crate versions of many historic engines either directly or through a licensee. The domestics have licensed Dynacorn to make replacement bodies as have companies in the UK with British Motor Heritage.

    Also, I don’t know about foreign mfgs, but the domestics all have extensive licensing programs for reproduction parts. 73 years ago was 1940. I’m pretty sure that you can get everything you need to restore a 1940 Ford.

  • avatar
    Cjmadura

    Beautiful car. Let me guess……the gearbox costs $50,000?

    • 0 avatar
      blowfish

      when the car worth 1/2 mil then 50k is not so expensive.
      Bimmer & Merc knew any dude who own such a machine will have mulla oozing out of everywhere, on top of a 70yrs old machine they will own models from A to Z. Plus they’re probably pretty influencing in the motor community.

      without the past laurel is there much difference of bewteen BMW et al & Tata motors?

  • avatar
    probert

    ” Other makers pay homage to heritage in glossy brochures and glitzy museums, BMW actually keeps history alive.”

    1936 – 1940 – Let’s hope not too much of that history is kept alive. Wonder who was working in the factories then – my bet’s not on union labor.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Actually, they were built by ‘union’ labor. It just wasn’t the kind of union you’re probably thinking of.

      The labor situation didn’t get ugly until a couple of years later.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Does it bolt to an LS1?

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I can testify that OEM parts are both available and mostly reasonably priced for my 1974 Mercedes R107.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    They ought to remake the front indicator light on the 2002.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      Do you mean this?

      https://bmwmobiletradition-onlinecom.x-shops.com/bmw/showparts.do?model=ST12&mospid=47140&btnr=63_0491&hg=63&fg=10

      • 0 avatar
        fredtal

        The link doesn’t work, says I need to pick a car first. I’m not familiar with BMW nomenclature but I tried looking up misc lights on a 1966 2002C and saw a tiny picture of something that might be a light. Found this light on ebay http://tinyurl.com/d9h2vw7 I think that’s it.

        • 0 avatar
          dswilly

          It only lists the 2002 back to 1968, which it has a light for $68. There is a 1966 1600 light for $175. I didnt think the 02 was around in 66, is this a European or NA car?

          https://bmwmobiletradition-onlinecom.

          • 0 avatar
            fredtal

            It was from friends car. It was about 20 years ago and his light was glued back together from 20 pieces. I gave him a call and he has replaced it with not the correct light, but only experts would know.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I am not a BMW fan but to fair this is cool if you need it

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    The other thing is that, as 3D printing becomes cheaper and more advanced, you will be able to print your own parts one day. Star Trek replicator-style.

    In any case, I’ve heard Mercedes is great about this stuff, as some commenters have already mentioned.

    By the way, Ford/Lincoln didn’t have a particular Panther part I needed once several years ago, and my car was probably 17 or 18 years old then. I got the part easily off Ebay from a merchant for a reasonable price.

    The internet has made this stuff easier than it used to be too. For a European car, with some search fu and a free translator, you can search European stocks too.

  • avatar
    AFX

    I dunno, $25,000 is a lot of money for just a gearbox. For that much you could put a small block Chevy crate motor in it, a Muncie Rockcrusher, a Ford 9″ rear end, slap on some Torque Thrust D’s, and a nice side exhaust with glasspacks. You’d probably have enough for a nice Grant wood steering wheel and a stereo system with a subwoofer too. I’m sure those cars didn’t have much of a radio back then.


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