There’s a reason that BMW is always so quick to emphasize that its vehicles are crafted under the wing of German engineering. This emphasis on quality, durability, and luxury manufacturing explains both Germany’s economic success on the whole and its penchant for producing excellent cars in particular. While other brands (Audi, in particular) have attempted to break into this German sports car field, there is little question that BMW has become synonymous with the German manufacturing tradition. It is only fitting, then, that BMW has returned to its roots this decade with the release of the BMW 328 Hommage concept roadster.
Many traditional brands are constantly trying to push the boundaries of modernity with their concept car releases; however, this release is an homage to tradition. The BMW 328 originally made a name for itself in the 1930s, and its 2011 release is fittingly the line’s 75th anniversary. Longtime fans of BMW design will instantly notice the kidney-shaped front grille that has become the iconic look for older BMW roadsters. Visitors to the release at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este were certainly in for a visual treat with the 328 Hommage concept. The sleek design is a bold attempt to both pay respect to the long history of the BMW line while showing a determination to lead the industry in the future. The interior displays a fitting German minimalism, providing all of the necessary amenities without appearing to be cluttered or overdone. Despite its emphasis on being relatively lightweight, this 328 still pulls off an imposing front design that practically demands respect.
The palpable power in the design of the BMW 328 Hommage concept is fitting, because it testifies to the impressive performance capabilities of this reinvented roadster. The 328 line has always been acclaimed for its speed; dedicated followers will note that the 328 touring coupe is the record holder for average speed on the Mille Miglia circuit. The obsession with lightweight materials for this line is certainly the reason for such a heritage of speed. However, the true draw of this car is not in its potential for racing or setting speed records. Clearly, the Hommage is a visual feast for those interested in design. Small details–the lack of doors, for examples–are modest but potent tributes to the first 328 of the 1930s. The Hommage, as much as it is meant to be driven, is primarily meant to be viewed.
The world of the concept car can be very hit or miss: while some designs truly strike a chord, others are too futuristic or impractical to truly leave an impact. There is no doubt that the BMW 328 Hommage falls into the first camp. This vehicle is a beautiful example of what happens when BMW takes inspiration from its own roots to create cars of the future. It is impressive that the company has managed to make a 2011 roadster seem “traditional” without appearing to be very “old.” If anything, this car should be seen as a testament to the rich history of BMW and a sign that even greater things will come out of the German sports car world in the future.