BMW mixed old with the new in creating Mille Miglia Concept

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 30, 2016

There was great excitement at Brescia Italy on May 10, 2006 as BMW revealed its new concept vehicle --the 2006 Mille Miglia. Taking its influence from already iconic BMW stock such as the world-established BMW 328 and the BMW Z4, the Miglia is sure to be a bright spot in BMW’s continuing success story.

The Mille Miglia first breathed new life back in 1977 when it was revamped to compete in an exclusive annual rally which was organised to celebrate the vintage race cars that competed from 1927 to 1957. BMW was well represented with a grand total of 22 vehicles entering the rally this year. The Mile Miglia also shares similarities with the BMW 328 Millie Miglia Touring Coupe. This sporting vehicle made an entry into the world record books at the race in 1940.

But the Mille Miglia combines old with the new and with a modified suspension and drivetrain from the new Z4 M Coupe, there is no doubt that the vehicle is powerful and responsive at the same time. Bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels sit in the centre of 245/40 R 20 tyres.

The vehicle has been lowered by 4 centimetres (cm) and the frame has been elongated by 23 cms. The concept car uniquely balances its vintage heritage with modern day BMW influences to create a design of beauty and interest. Keen to ensure its continued sporting prowess, this latest BMW is a worthy contender in the race car arena. Taking a step back to the 1940’s, the record busting BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupe knocked out an impressive average speed of 166.7 kmh over the duration of the 1,000 mile course.

This record of the fasted average speed for any Mille Miglia remains intact today. The BMW 328 first came on the seen in 1936 when it won its class in virtually every race from 1936 to 1940. It saw continued success in the 1940s and 50s too, thereby securing the reputation of the BMW 328 as a household name. By 1940, the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupe won the Mille Miglia race and its prowess was proven again in 2004 in the modern day vintage race, proving that 64 years on, it still had the power to win races.

Back in the day when the BMW 328 Mille Miglia was first designed, the team did so using models. Despite our dependence on modern technology today, the concept design team was keen to follow the traditional practices and also used models as the main way to design this latest concept car.

The engine of this concept coupe is taken from the BMW Z4 M Coupe which has won awards for the engine. The six-cylinder in-line petrol engine has been modified to give the vehicle a meatier sound when it’s idle or being raced around the track. This was done by adjusting the inlet and exhaust systems of the 343 hp unit.

Besides modernising the interior, there have been no fussy additions. Following the examples of the Z4 production cars and the 328 racing cars, the interior is uncomplicated using a combination of lycra fabric, thin stainless steel (weight saving) and natural cowhides. Impressively, laser technology was used to emboss badges and branding into the materials. Put simply, the concept car is light, fast and uncomplicated.

Exterior Design

During the designing of the BMW Concept Coupe Mille Miglia 2006, the team rejected the normal method of clay modelling in favour of the more traditional plaster models.

This meant that the design team were more directly involved and very much hands on. This level of commitment from the design team illustrates the passion and artistic input that goes into creating such vehicles, and it is this personal touch that can sometimes be lacking in computer generated designs. The concept car has a hinged hard top roof which reflects back to Le Mans where there was a change in the rules.

Racing cars went from a soft top to a hard top design and the race was opened up to include more cars. This development led the way for the 328 Touring Coupe. Originally a roadster, the vehicle was redesigned to become a lightweight, aerodynamic race car. Following a similar pattern, the Z4 Coupe was designed from the Z4 Roadster.

The soft top design went on to influence the Z4 M Coupe Racing Car. Whilst the hinged roof mechanism is in keeping with the traditional influences of the vehicle, it also serves to avoid excessive weight that a door would cause and this ensures the overall structure is solid and durable.

The chassis is lightweight and the latest designs were used to extend an aluminium shell over the lattice frame, making the vehicle even lighter. The body is made of a combination of reinforced plastic (CFRP) and carbon-fibre. Looking back to the vintage racing years, the vehicle is painted with a full gloss silver colour with fine pigments that give that traditional classic silver look.

The concept car has copied the distinctive and large circular headlamps of the 328, but with a twist, the LED headlamps are attached as flat elements instead of being integrated into the body of the vehicle. The look is a smooth bonnet and side panels. Keen to continue the motoring success of previous years, the concept design team applied the latest aerodynamic techniques to ensure maximum performance and control. The side panels and rear part of the vehicle have been sculpted to direct turbulence free flowing air to the rear where the airflow is then dispersed.

Diffusers on the front and rear aprons and underbody fins, all made of carbon fibre, also support the aerodynamics of the vehicle. Air intakes in the shape of a z line are positioned on the A pillars to ensure a constant stream of cool air to the six-cylinder in-line engine. This generates a downforce which helps to counterbalance turbulence in the wheel housings.

Topics: bmw, coupe, concept

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