Make AVIA BMW
Model 750 MKIII
Chassis No. VH500328PT003
Engine No. 500328 (Original not fitted but with car)
Engine No. 2975491 (Currently fitted)
This is an extremely rare Czechoslovakian built Formula 3 race car completed in 1956 for the talented Czech driver, Miroslav Jurca.
AVIA was a multifaceted manufacturer in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) that remains in business to this day. They were formed in August of 1919 and initially focused on aircraft construction. In 1928-1929, Avia became part of the SKODA manufacturing conglomerate. Aircraft assembly and subassemblies continued well into the 1980s. Although now primarily focused on commercial vehicle manufacturer, they are most noted for their aircraft manufacturing and that of light, small displacement economy cars of the 1950s and early 1960s.
In the early and mid 1950s, AVIA built a small production run of 615 cc engined, two-stroke, twin-cylinder vehicles called the Aero Minor. From these a handful were developed and turned into racers. Miroslav Jurca, a local Prague resident, racer and a man with good connections at the AVIA construction facility was given permission to build himself a highly developed racecar with which to primarily compete in the local events.
He built this car to complete in the 750cc racing classes in Europe as well as the European Formula 3 events. In Germany there was a specific race series dedicated solely to these small displacement class racers called the “Kleinstrennwagen"-Klasse” In the States, these types of cars were run in the SCCA’s “H-modified” class of racing.
The car utilizes a rigid-steel tube-frame of large section with an un-stressed light-weight aluminum/magnesium alloy skin. The car was and remains powered by a BWM 750cc, four-stroke opposed piston motorcycle engine. (The original engine has been fully rebuilt and accompanies the car today.) The car is currently fitted with a different BMW 750cc, four-stroke opposed piston engine for ease of use and in order to preserve the original historically important racing engine that came with the car when purchased.
The car is quite sophisticated for its time featuring fully independent front and rear suspension and a trans-axle gearbox. The front suspension utilizes unequal length “A” arms, coil springs and telescopic-hydraulic shocks in addition to torsion bars actuating the lower “A” arms. The rear also utilizes coil springs and hydraulic-telescopic shocks. Steering is by a remarkable light-weight alloy-magnesium rack and pinion unit and as such probably one of the earliest uses of such a system in a Formula 3 Racecar. Brakes are four-wheel hydraulic with heavily finned light-alloy construction. Wheels are “Rudge” type but are of the “Piano Wire” design in order to save on un-sprung weight.
The “stremlenvagen” or “stream-liner” body is quite low to the ground and extremely aerodynamically clean. The entire chassis, engine body unit together weighs in at well under 900lbs. The design of the body is clearly inspired by the aircraft experience gained by AVIA from the 1920s up to the time of this car’s construction.
Many period photos of Miroslav Jurca and this AVIA 750 MKIII can be found on various web sites throughout the internet. He is known to have raced the car on many occasions and most notably in the Ecce Homo Czechoslovakian Hill Climb where he had a fastest time of the day finish on more than one occasion.
At some point in the late 1950s, the car was seized by the Communist Authorities and placed in storage. Jurca died in the early 1980s but his children were eventually able to leave Czechoslovakia in 1984 when they moved to Austria. Jurca’s son also had a son. He was named David and when he was eight years old, his family emigrated to Washington State.
In 2006, by complete chance Miroslav Jurca’s grandson did an internet search and came across photos and information that would lead him just 50 miles from where he lived to be reunited with his Grandfather’s original AVIA BWM 750MKIII!
How both the car and the young Jurca came to be less than 50 miles form each other is a story in itself and we suggest you look here to learn a bit more of this chance meeting:
There are still a few mysteries relating to this Czech oddity. Little is known about this vehicle after it was seized by Communist Authorities until it surfaced in the early 1980s in a German Museum. At the time it was misidentified as a 1948 BMW “Rennwagen” with unknown history. The wrong year likely in reference to the date of manufacture of the original engine fitted to the car.
The vehicle was identified on various documents from 1987 & 1988 as a 1948 BMW “Monoposto Rennwagen” or “einsitzig.” This is clearly a race-only vehicle with slightly off-set central seating which is only off-set to accommodate the drive-shaft. “einsitzig” is the German word for “single-seat.” “Rennwagen” simply means racing car.
The rest of the car’s history post mid-1980s is well supported by accompanying documentation as listed below:
Date Year Type Chassis No. listed
5-25-87 1948 BWM VH 500328PT003
A sales document was issued by Automobile Bad Mergentheim on behalf of proprietor, Mr. Rainer Götzelmann. The vehicle was being sold to Günther Schennach of Königsberger, Str. 4, 6990 Bad Mergentheim, Germany.
The agreement was for a “1948 BMW Monoposto Rennwagen, iensitzig” with chassis No. VH 500328PT003. The selling price was 36,500 German Marks with a 5,000 Mark deposit due immediately and the balance eon June 3rd, 1987.
30-12-87 N/A BWM 590328
Bill of lading issued by Wallenius Lines for shipment from Bremenhaven, Germany to Port of Los Angeles via Panama Canal on MV Aniar Medea. Shipper is listed as Richard Boas & Co. Felix-Wankel-Strasse 3/5, 2805 Bremen-Brinkum Pos. 67 M 019. Vehicle shipped to; Gunter Schennach of P.O. Box 941, Paso Robles, California. Total weight listed at time of shipping; 400kgs. (882lbs)
Car shipped and identified by its engine number which was incorrectly recorded as “590328” when it fact it is actually “500328.” The same mistake appears on several documents related to the car.
1-28-88 1948 BMW 590328
DOT release issued for then owner, Gunter Schennach of P.O. Box 941, Paso Robles, California.
19-8-88 N/A BMW VH500328PT003
Bill of Sale issued by by Rick Cole Auctions, 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey, Ca 93940 for “value received” and signed by former owner Gunter Schennach.
11-9-93 1948 BMW VH500238PT003
Purchased by VRM Motorsports as an unfinished project for $21,000. Restored by Tony Garmey at an additional cost of $66,000.
12-2-94 1956 AVIA VH500328PT003
Issued a new Competition Vehicle Log Book by MotorSport New Zealand. Identified as a 1956 AVIA type AVIA3 and further identified as a single-seater with 750cc, four-stroke engine. Owner at that time was listed as: T Gamey of c/- 44 McIvor Road, RD6, Invercargill, New Zealand.
8-18-96 1948 BMW N/A
Displayed and shown at Pebble Beach. Incorrectly listed on the program and the field placard as a 1948 BMW Formula III Veritas/Loof Racer.
3-7-97 1948 BMW VH500328PT003
Sold by VRM to Pat Hart of Redmond, Washington for $72,000.
9-24-97 1956 AVIA VH500328PT003
Additional service and race preparation work performed by Tony Gamey prior to the car being shipped to Barry Leitch in New Zealand where a second and far more comprehensive restoration was performed. At this time, the car was fully sorted and race prepared in addition to being cosmetically gone through. Total additional expense for this work exceeded $120,000.
Returned to Redmond, Washington where it remained on display until being placed into long-term storage in 2007.
July 2010 1956 AVIA 750 MKIII VH500328PT003
Delivered to Symbolic Motor Car Company and offered for public sale.
This exotic, period sophisticated, and extremely rare race car is now properly understood and well documented from the moment built until today. Its unique nature also makes it an excellent candidate for the most prestigious historic racing events across the globe.
For more on the history, please go to the "More Pictures" section, and review the September, 2012, Bimmer magazine article by John Edgar.