BMW AG says it is returning to the Mille Miglia race with a dozen 328 models like those the company campaigned in the 1930s. The race, which loops around Italy from Brescia to Rome and back, is a get-together for owners and drivers of racing and touring cars from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The original race was a highlight of the racing season and manufacturers fought hard to assemble the best teams of drivers. Car makers also used the competition to show off their latest designs and technology and attract potential customers.

BMW’s entries for the 2011 race, which starts this week, include several 328 street cars and a few specially developed racing models like the 328 Kamm Coupe. For many BMW fans the mid-1930s 328 marked the beginning of the company’s reputation as a serious sports cars maker. The company first entered the car in 1936 and a racing version won the “MM” in 1940.

The old Mille Miglia was an all-out competition on public roads that ran from 1927 to 1957, with time off for war. It made sports car companies like Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Mercedes-Benz famous. But the course was especially dangerous, and officials finally stopped the race after crashes in the 1957 event killed drivers and spectators.

The modern version brings together cars from the period during which the race was run. For BMW’s Classic division, which restores and maintains antique BMW models for the company and for customers, the event is a chance to show off its prowess at fixing up and presenting classic autos.

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BMW Returns to Mille Miglia with Team of 328s.

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