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BMW rallies spectacular concept

2006-05-12 11:21

The Mille Miglia was resurrected in 1977 as an annual rally to celebrate one of the world's great motor races. All vehicle models that competed in the original races between 1927 and 1957 are permitted an entry.

Highlighting the 22 BMWs that have entered this year's event, BMW's latest concept looks back to these great racing cars. In particular the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupe that was driven into the record books and past the chequered flag in the 1940 race.

It also looks ahead to future motor sport achievements, with a modified drivetrain and suspension from the new Z4 M Coupe providing the car's power and control.

A body 23 centimetres longer, and four centimetres lower, than BMW's latest production sports car is set off by bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels.

The concept car's hinged hard-top roof is a reference to the relaxation of the rules at Le Mans when racing cars moved from soft-top to hard-top construction as closed vehicles became eligible to race.

This precipitated the development of the 328 Touring Coupe from its roadster origins, allowing the model to develop further as a lightweight, aerodynamic "bespoke" racing car.

Similarly, the new Z4 Coupe has been derived from the Z4 Roadster soft-top as a "behind-the-scenes" project driven by the designers' enthusiasm.

This coupe development leading to the production of the new Z4 M Coupe Racing car.

While the hinged roof structure recalls past events, the principle function of the hinged system, that also raises the cockpit, negates the requirement for doors (reducing weight) and increases torsional stiffness.

The car benefits from an extremely lightweight chassis. The most modern design processes were used to ?stretch? an aluminium shell over a lattice frame.

The body is also constructed from lightweight materials, with carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) clothing the entire vehicle. As a nod to the past this is painted in "fine silver", a full-gloss paint colour with extremely fine pigments that hints to classic silver race colours.

The Concept Coupe is powered by BMW's six-cylinder inline petrol engine that powers the new BMW Z4 M Coupe. Modifications have been made to the inlet and exhaust systems to give the concept car more of a "racing" sound.

The interior retains the functional simplicity prevalent in both 328 racing cars and Z4 production cars, but in a modern presentation. Only three materials are used; thin stainless steel, untreated cowhides, Lycra fabric. This purist form even extends to letterings, logos and symbols embossed into surfaces using laser technology.

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