In the 1930’s and 40’s the BMW 328 Roadster was a dreaded racing car, and still to this day considered one of the most legendary vehicles of all time. Early powerboats like the ‘Berlin III’ were outfitted with some of the best racing engines of their time, but mostly these where Italian boat builders with such models being extremely rare in Germany.
The history of ‘Berlin III’ also tells the beginnings of motorboat racing in the Federal Republic after the Second World War. The boat belonged to a Young Jürgen Baginski and his compatriot Christoph Von Mayenburg, both of whom already enjoyed international recognition, the Baginski family mass produced painkillers and the Mayenburg’s toothpaste, these young men therefore escaped the economic hardships of the post-war era far better than many other countrymen.
Thanks to Baginski’s good friend Mayenburg, he was introduced to the well-known boat builder Max Steaves in 1950. Steaves was already a highly respected boat builder and designer at that time, having designed a number of successful racing boats, he was therefore the perfect choice to design ‘Berlin III’. Following the trend in Europe at the time, Steaves took the design of the ‘Class D racing runabouts’ of the American Powerboat Federation to develop the distinctive lines. In Europe, the ‘Berlin III’ placed itself in the ‘2-Litre European Class E’ and was equipped with the 6-Cylinder engine of the BMW 328 Roadster, this engine was tuned to the strongest race setting and equalled the 130hp similar to Mille Miglia set-up.
At the wheel of the ‘Berlin III’, Baginskis began his considerable racing career in the early fifties, and won mainly regional competitions, for example the race of Starnberg Lake in 1953. The boat was put in the care of Kurt Gersch, himself recognised boat builder and pilot, in Mainz am Rhein. When the shipyard owner Rolf Gersch, the son of Kurt Gersch, followed the instruction of a customers in 2003 and entered a backyard near Mainz, he did not even know which treasure lay before him.
It was three more years before the right experts in historic boat building and engine building were sourced and finally came together to tackle the elaborate restoration of ‘Berlin III’. Financed by an entrepreneur from Northern Germany and with the support of BMW 328 specialists the detailed restoration was undertaken, totalling in around 2500 working hours.
The ‘Berlin III’ is more than likely one of the earliest BMW racing boats of the post-war period, and would certainly be a highlight of any BMW collection.