BMW has a history in the Mille Miglia. Today that history continues as BMW Group Classic launches a vintage contingent of BMWs in the modern version of one of motorsports most storied races.
The Mille Miglia—the thousand miles—was an Italian speed event between 1927 and 1957 over various courses that ran from Brescia to Rome and back. BMW automobiles didn’t exist at the time of the first Mille Miglia, but that changed by 1938, when the BMW 328 captured a class win in its first appearance. Two years later, the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé won the overall victory, confirming BMW as a force in motorsports. However, there were no races from 1941 to 1946 and it was 1956 before the race had more BMW entries. In 1957—the last race of the old era—a BMW 507 made its sole appearance.
In 1954, seven Iso Isettas entered the Mille Miglia. They were the predecessors of the “Motocoupé” built under license by BMW from 1955 to 1962. These “smoochballs” had no chance of beating their more powerful rivals, but they showed amazing stamina, and won over the hearts of the spectators. Five of the seven finished the race and Isettas took the top three places in the economy class.
Today, 60 years since its Mille Miglia debut, an Isetta—the BMW version—is once again lining up to start the legendary endurance tour through northern Italy. The diminutive two-seater with green paintwork joins two BMW 507 models along with four BMW 328 historic racecars.
The actual winning car from the 1940 race will be at the start of this year’s Mille Miglia. The BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé with its tubular space frame and “superleggera” body has been one of the showpieces of the BMW Group Classic collection since 2002. The BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé made history again in 2004 when Giuliano Cané and his wife Lucia Galliani as co-driver took the car across the finish line in Brescia to a second victory, making the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé the first car ever to win not only the classic race event but also the new version of the Mille Miglia for historic automobiles.
BMW Group Classic is fielding examples of most of the models—and even some of the actual cars—that raced in the historic Mille Miglia events held from 1927 to 1957, which automatically qualifies them to take part in the revived version for historic cars launched in 1977.
A total of 430 historic vehicles have registered for the 2014 Mille Miglia. This year's event will take four days and cover more than 1,000 miles. Launching from the traditional starting point in Brescia at 6 p.m. today, Thursday, May 15, 2014, the cars will head towards Padua. The second and longest stage finishes in Rome on Friday evening. On Saturday the route goes to Siena and then along a new section via Volterra, Lucca, and Pisa to Bologna. From there, on Sunday, May 18, 2014, competitors will tackle the final stretch towards Brescia where the first cars are expected to cross the finish line around noon.—Scott Blazey