GOING THE EXTRA MILE. VIVA BMW!

What’s the best way for a BMW club to celebrate its 10-year anniversary? With a road trip, of course! The place this Spanish BMW 3 Series club chose as its destination wasn’t exactly local; Munich – the birthplace of their cars and home city of the BMW brand – was over a thousand kilometres away. All of which meant the proud 3 Series owners had a long old drive ahead of them, one which demanded great commitment from each and every member of the club. And which was hailed as an unqualified success by one and all.

The Spanish BMW club at the centre of our story focuses its attentions on the 3 Series models from the 1970s and 80s – i.e. the original 3 Series (the E21) and its successor (the E30). Today, the 3 Series remains the quintessential sports sedan, a faithful disciple of the legendary 02 that went before it and, in 1966, set about turning countless drivers into lifelong BMW fans.

Raring to go.

Extensive preparations for the trip began a year before the cars eventually set off. And it wasn’t only the route itself that needed planning, but the various meeting points along the way; after all, the club members were keen to get together with German friends en route and take in as much of their surroundings as possible. Finally, in June 2016, 16 cars from every region of Spain set off on stage one of an epic journey. Their first rendez-vous? Just over the border in southern France.

From there, the BMW E21/E30 3 Series club enthusiasts made their way across France before hooking up with friends in Germany to further a relationship going back many years. There was much joy and excitement – and a few excursions were thrown in as well (the Germans were enthusiastic ambassadors for their country!).

Munich or bust.

The highlight of the trip was still to come, though – a visit to BMW headquarters in Munich. A mood-setting evening enjoying Bavarian specialities in a traditional Munich hostelry preceded the final push for the finish line. There, employees from BMW Group Classic had assembled early to welcome their visitors from afar, who set about absorbing a plethora of new sights and sounds. Alongside visits to the BMW Museum and BMW Welt on the Spaniards’ packed schedule was the obligatory tour of BMW’s Munich plant. Smartphone snappers and serious photographers alike readied themselves for action.

Club comrades.

The youngest member of the group was five-year-old Aitor from Menorca, who was a real trooper over the long journey in the back of his father’s E30 convertible. Aitor first had to cross over to Barcelona by ferry from his home island in the Mediterranean, but it was all worth it when he got to see the production robots at work in the Munich factory and – above all – play with a model car he was presented with at the end of the tour.

13-year-old Ander from Asturias was very excited about all the things to see on the way to Munich, Lake Constance and the colourfully painted facades of Austrian buildings among them. And he loved the motorcycles suspended from the ceilings at the BMW Museum. Ander is part of a passionate next generation at the Spanish club, but will have to wait a little while longer before he can take his driving test and get properly involved.

At 61, Txomin was the eldest member of the delegation who set out for Germany; this was his first visit to the country. The Basque BMW fan never quite shed his mild anxiety about the cars’ reliability (after all, these are now machines of a certain age). But such worries could never spoil his fun. Txomin developed an instant taste for German beer and so taken was he by the exhibits on show at the BMW Museum that, given half a chance, he might gladly have taken them all home with him.

Heading for home.

Sadly, all good things come to an end, and nobody enjoyed saying goodbye. The drive back to Spain took the cars over the wondrous twists and turns of the Stelvio Pass to Monte Carlo, a city more synonymous than any with Formula One. The Spanish BMW fans were eager to see “in the flesh” the sights they only normally get to admire on television.

There was still a fair stretch to go before home was in sight, but serious breakdowns necessitating unscheduled breaks were notable by their absence. Sixteen cars, all with more than 30 years of stories to tell, had covered a journey stretching thousands of kilometres. Impressive stuff indeed. The Spaniards certainly know how to look after their BMWs.

Looking back, planning ahead.

This Spain-to-Germany road trip had been planned as a once-in-a-lifetime journey. But as is the way with these things – when they go well – club members are already planning a follow-up. The destination may as yet be undecided but, with such a good experience of a long-distance journey now under their belts, it will most definitely involve plenty of hours on the road. And it will take place in 2021.

But why then? Because Ander from Asturias will have his driver’s licence and the club will be celebrating its 15th anniversary. Sounds like a good reason to us – and besides, how dull would life be without a new dream or two to look forward to?