Sbarro 328 Replica -1974

The Sbarro 328 Eéplica, presented in 1974 at the Geneva Motor Show, became the most popular Sbarro in ten years. Thanks to this model, Franco Sbarro firmly established his company, which grew from a small craftsman to a genuine manufacturer. The 328 Replica is certainly the most important model in the vast range of vehicles designed and built by Sbarro.

The Sbarro 328 Replica takes up the lines of the BMW 328, but is twenty centimetres shorter than the original.

A bit of history - 1936

The original BMW 328 saw the light of day in 1936. Designed from the outset as a competition model, it was intended to give the Bavarian brand a sporty image. Equipped with a 2-liter six-cylinder engine developing 80 hp, this roadster proved to be both powerful and enduring, as demonstrated by its good performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With only 462 examples produced, the 328 remains a rare model, highly prized by collectors.

This standard Sbarro 328 replica is powered by a BMW 4-cylinder engine from a 1973 2022, developing 100 hp.

The Sbarro 328 Standard

The 328's aura and rarity naturally led Sbarro to produce a replica. The idea is to recapture the sensations of the period, in a similar body, but without the inconvenience of maintaining a vintage car. To remain as faithful as possible to the original model, Sbarro opted for original BMW mechanical components. At the time (1974), the brand was already offering excellent, renowned, high-performance powertrains. The 4-cylinder engines of the base model, known as Standard, came from the BMW 1602-2002 ti range. Power output was 85 hp (1602 engine), 90 hp (1802 engine), 100 hp (2002 engine) or 130 hp (2002 ti engine). The 6-cylinder BMW 5-series could also be fitted to the 328 (from 150 to 200 hp). The choice was therefore vast, left to the customer's discretion. The same applied to transmissions. The chassis consisted of, and I quote from the catalog of the time, a "large-section tubular frame with lateral safety crush zones (sandwich) embedded in a double polyester monocoque". Suspension is original BMW. Brakes are disc at the front and drum at the rear. Disc brakes on all 4 wheels are available as an option.

At 3.70 m, the car is slightly shorter than the original 1936 version (3.90 m). Wheelbase and width are identical. Seats are molded into the hull or individually adjustable on request. The bodywork is, of course, made of polyester (a Sbarro trademark). Thanks to the numerous options and features that can be modified at the customer's request, each car produced is unique. It is very difficult to find precise, reliable data for every model available at the time.

The Sbarro 328 America is longer, wider and more luxuriously appointed than the Standard.

The Sbarro 328 America

For those who didn't want a faithful replica of the original model, Sbarro offered a more plush version, aimed primarily at American customers, hence the name America. The wheelbase was lengthened by 15 cm, and the track by 16 cm, allowing for a more spacious and comfortable interior. The interior features full leather upholstery and a solid walnut dashboard. The powertrain is based on the BMW 525. The engine is an in-line 6-cylinder, developing a minimum of 145 hp. This model is equipped with 4 disc brakes, a self-locking axle and aluminum wheels.

The Sbarro 328 Spéciale is a far cry from the original 1936 model: extra-wide fenders, big tires and spectacular tailpipes (photo from Auto-Journal magazine, date unknown).

The Sbarro 328 Spéciale

The Sbarro 328 Spéciale is the ultimate stage of the 328 Réplica. Wider bodywork and larger wheels give it a more aggressive appearance, further removed from the 1937 original. The full range of BMW engines is available. The 328 Spéciale is available with the simplest version of the 2002 4-cylinder 85 hp engine, up to the 190 hp 3.3-liter 6-cylinder. A turbo-compressed version (4 or 6 cylinders?) is even said to have existed, developing 245 hp!

Sbarro 328 Spéciale. Photo taken from the catalog of Vallejo, a BMW dealer in Argenteuil, who imported the Sbarro 328 and 328 junior into France (as well as the Bugatti 55 De La Chapelle replicas, also with BMW engines).

A formidable machine

The Sbarro 328 Replica is one of Franco Sbarro's finest achievements. Making the most of the mechanical foundations of the BMW range, this car could be either a faithful replica of the pre-war model, with no sporting pretensions, or a powerful machine with impressive modernized lines. There was a car for everyone, which explains the commercial success of this model, which Franco Sbarro produced for around ten years.

In brief
1- The most widely produced Sbarro, with around one hundred models, twenty of which are exported to the USA
2- A comprehensive range
3- The Sbarro 328 has definitively established Franco Sbarro as one of the world's leading manufacturers.
Main sources
1- Auto Journal spécial salon, september 1974 & 1975
2- Catalog Sbarro BMW 328 Replica
3- old site of the Espera school in Pontarlier, consulted and archived by me in 2009
4- Catalog Sbarro de 1991
5- magazine Auto Chromes Collection VIII n°89, 1988