Werrangourt Archive 10: George Martin’s BMW 328…

Posted: September 27, 2021 in Sports Racers
Tags: , , , , ,
(B King Collection)

George Martin’s BMW 328 enters The Dipper during the 1938 Australian Grand Prix on Mount Panorama.

The Melbourne based Australian representative of the Cunard White Star Line (passenger liner) was fifteenth in the handicap race won by fellow Brit, Peter Whitehead’s ERA R10B.

Martin and his wife had settled comfortably into Australian life, he was the President of the Light Car Club of Australia and had competed in the car for only a short while. It was bought for him by racer/scion of Snow Department Stores, John Snow on one of his annual purchasing trips to Europe of stock for the family stores, and top-end racing cars for his mates/clients in 1937.

On his way back to Melbourne from Bathurst, Martin crashed the 328 fatally outside Wagga Wagga, the car was repaired and sold.

George and Mrs Martin, car unknown (B King Collection)
George Martin, AGP, Bathurst 1938 (B King Collection)

After passing through several sets of hands, 328 chassis # 85136 was bought by Geelong, Victoria motorcycle dealer/racer Frank Pratt in 1947.

Pratt had the car prepared for him by AGP winner, Les Murphy. Despite it being his first motor race, Pratt – with vast experience on bikes – won the 1948 AGP at Point Cook, an airfield track used just once.

Held on a fearfully hot Melbourne summer day, Pratt triumphed over many more fancied entries due to the retirement or non-classification of sixteen cars. The mortality race was high with many car’s cooling systems unable to cope. Pratt was also assisted by the favourable handicap afforded a novice…Alf Najar’s MG TB Spl was second and Dick Bland’s George Reed Ford V8 Spl third.

Frank Pratt’s recently acquired BMW on the way to 1948 AGP victory on the RAAF Point Cook airbase in Melbourne’s outer west (VSCC Vic Collection)
Frank Pratt having a celebratory fag after his ‘48 AGP win, with Les Murphy – who missed out on the drive, or co-drive – at right (VSCC Vic Collection)

Next owner, Peter McKenna raced the car throughout Victoria in 1949, at Ballarat in 1951, practiced but did not start the ’52 AGP at Bathurst, Port Wakefield’s opening meeting in 1953 and at Albert Park’s first AGP later that year where the machine retired after 11 laps. Entered for the ’54 AGP at Southport on the Gold Coast hinterland, McKenna rolled the car while leading a preliminary so didn’t start the feature.

The well-used immensely significant BMW was sold by McKenna to the sympathetic hands of Melbourne enthusiast Graeme Quinn who restored it in the mid-seventies. Since then # 85136 has been a global investment commodity, pinging its way around the globe, returning to Australia once or twice. Pat Burke owned it at the time of the collapse of his empire, it’s now thought to be in Japan.

Peter McKenna and passenger in # 85136, now re-registered, at Fishermans Bend circa 1951, beautiful lines of the machine shown to good effect (VSCC Vic Collection)
(drawingdatabase.com)

The BMW328 was a celebrated design built from 1936-1941.

With a light alloy frame, aluminium body, and peppy 1971cc, six-cylinder, two valve, triple carb 79bhp engine, the 1825 pound sportscar was a high performer of its day.

Via war reparations settlements, the BMW designed Bristol built engines provided post-war power for a host of great sports-racing cars and single seaters, not least the Cooper Bristols which launched the GP careers of Mike Hawthorn and Jack Brabham.

Etcetera…

(I McCartney via D Zeunert)

David Zeunert had this wonderful chance find of Frank Pratt on his way to 1948 Point Cook victory, at Camberwell Market a couple of years ago. The 10X12 shot is beautifully mounted, Irvine McCartney is not one of the usual race ‘snappers of the day, operating from Chapel Street, South Yarra.

Credits…

Bob King and VSCC Victoria Collections, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Irvine McCartney/David Zeunert Collection

Tailpiece…

(B King Collection)

During the Peter McKenna era at Rob Roy hillclimb in Melbourne’s outer east Christmas Hills.

Finito…

Comments
  1. May I suggest that the top photo of George Martin exiting the Cutting may not be the Cutting. The corner looks more like the drop into the Dipper. The Cutting is an up hill left hander. A wonderful photo nonetheless.

  2. robert king says:

    Mark, there was no gap in the ownership trail; Graeme Quinn bought the 328 directly from Peter McKenna – or was it his estate – as well as one of Pratt’s racing BMW motorcycles. I recall Graeme and I visiting McKenna’s service station in Glenhuntly Road prior to the purchase.

    In the ‘fag’ photo, I think it is Les Murphy at Pratt’s left shoulder.

    In regard to the 328 time-line, a handful of them were completed by Frazer Nash in 1946.

  3. John Macmillan says:

    That’s why Bristol grabbed BMW as part of war reparation Rioted had the chance for VW but knocked it back and produced the Imp($@“ Thanks again fir great material John Macmillan

  4. Iain Ross long term Bristol owner. says:

    Bob and Mark,
    It is actually a six cylinder with triple carburettors a la Bristol!!

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