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One of the biggest problems for classic car owners is finding original car parts for their vehicle, which are often no longer in production.

But owners of the classic BMW 328 can now get their hands on a newly produced gearbox replacement almost identical to that used in the original car.

Manufactured between 1936 and 1940, the 328 was renowned for its many advanced features for the time and was originally sold with a part-synchronised Hurth gearbox.

But in recent years only fully synchronised gearboxes or gearboxes that have undergone significant modifications have been available to owners of the 328.

The first and second gears in the original gearbox were not synchronised, but the third and fourth gears were.

Now, BMW has commissioned gearbox producer ZF Friedrichshafen AG - working with specialists from the archive and the restoration workshop of BMW Classic to design a gearbox like that originally used in the 1930s.

According to the manufacturer, the most difficult part of the process was establishing what the original gearbox actually looked like, as all existing examples have undergone such extensive modifications over the years.

But after months of hard work, engineers have succeeded in producing the first prototypes of the gearbox, which have already been installed in the works vehicles of BMW Group Classic.

BMW Classic hopes deliveries to customers can begin at the end of this year or the start of next, once testing has been completed.

The development of the gearbox is part of the manufacturer's long-term objective of making sure original BMW car parts are available for all its classic cars.

Meanwhile, BMW recently reported that it smashed its previous sales record to make 2011 the most successful year ever for the company in terms of vehicles sold.

The BMW Group saw global sales of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles increase by 14.2 per cent last year.