23 December 2020
A challenging year is drawing to a close. Over the coming weeks, this newsletter will take a break before we start up our bulletins for you in January once more, presenting a wealth of exciting insights into BMW Group Classic. The team from Moosacher Straße 66 in Munich would like to wish you peaceful festive days and a good start into the new year.
And with regard to starting up again: Who wouldn’t want to pursue their favourite activities as soon as possible in these tough times without a care in the world – whether it’s travelling, sport or just hanging out with friends? In Finnish Lapland – the home of Santa Claus – MINI already delivered a truly stupendous advent gift. After months of lockdown, rally legend Rauno Aaltonen was able to put pedal to metal once more – and at the age of 82, his masterful driving style still remains supremely impressive.
In March 2021, the BMW Group will be able to look back on 105 years of company history. For eight of those years, Ulrich Knieps was at the helm of the department responsible for curating and preserving this tradition. As the bells ring in the new year, the Head of BMW Group Classic will retire and he can rightly claim to be leaving behind a house in very good order. Of course, that house is the headquarters of BMW Group Classic, which took up residence at Moosacher Straße in Munich in the anniversary year 2016 along with the archive and vehicle collection. Knieps always describes the move to the site where engine production originally started up at BMW as a “historic stroke of luck”. But his colleagues and the Board of Management of BMW AG are not the only people who are well aware of the extent to which his initiative was instrumental in facilitating that stroke of luck. Effectively, he became the architect of the new home for BMW Group Classic. Knieps’ passion for BMW started on his 18th birthday when he was given a BMW R 26 motorcycle as a present. After completing his degree in engineering, he transformed his passion into a career and entered the product management department at BMW. He was in charge of trailblazing vehicle projects like the BMW Z3, the BMW Z8 and the first BMW X5, all of which are today well on the way to becoming classics. After the BMW Group took over the Rolls-Royce marque, Ulrich Knieps was involved in establishing a global dealership organisation for the luxury automobiles. Other missions followed in development, management, and helming product, technology and sports communication before Knieps took over as Head of BMW Group Classic in March 2013. In this role, he also became President of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este as part of his portfolio. After his departure, Alexander Bilgeri, Vice President Corporate Communications Strategy, Messaging, Communication Channels will assume temporary responsibility for heading BMW Group Classic, before a new appointment is made to the leadership position in Moosacher Straße.
The BMW Junior Team is celebrating its comeback after more than 40 years. On 13 March 1977, Eddie Cheever, Manfred Winkelhock and Marc Surer made a stupendous debut in the world of motor sport. 26 years old at the time, Swiss driver Marc Surer achieved a sensational win in the first round of the German Racing Championship (DRM). Two years later in 1979, Surer already drove his first Formula 1 race. In 2020, a new generation of talented drivers with huge potential is lining up at the start under the name of the BMW Junior Team: Dan Harper (19) from the Netherlands, Max Hesse (19) from Germany and Neil Verhagen (19) from the US. The “Young Drivers” met up with the “Veteran” for the BMW Group Classic YouTube series “Our Brands. Our Stories” to undertake some unusual test drives. A number of legendary vehicles were parked ready to drive off in the old drivers’ paddock at the Nürburgring: Max Hesse climbed into the cockpit of the BMW 320 Group 5 – the BMW Junior Team from 1977 created a sensation in this car at the time. Dan Harper and Neil Verhagen drove the BMW Formula 2 cars that Marc Surer drove in race competitions in 1978 and 1979. Former Formula 1 driver Marc Surer got into the modern BMW M4 GT4 at the Nürburgring. “The decades just melted away and I feel like a Junior again,” concluded Surer. “You only need two laps, and then it’s as though you had never been away from racing.” The current BMW Junior Team was impressed by the historic vehicles: “The sound alone generates emotions that you don’t really experience very frequently any more in modern vehicles,” was the verdict of Neil Verhagen.
Anybody in Dortmund driving along the B1 will be familiar with the former Citroen dealership. It’s been empty for a long time and nobody really knew for sure what was going to happen to it. Until now, that is. Jean Pierre Kraemer, Germany’s most famous YouTube motor-car enthusiast and owner of tuning company “JP Performance”, is opening up a museum at the former automobile showroom. The name is: “PACE Automobile Museum”. PACE stands for “Performance and Car Education”. The project has just been launched in an atmospheric YouTube video. And because the Dortmund lad “JP” has a penchant for BMW vehicles (“I fell in love with BMW from Day One”), vehicles from BMW Group Classic can be seen on several floors. For example, the legendary BMW Art Car by Jeff Koons, a BMW M3 GT2, which competed in the 24 Hour Race of Le Mans in 2010 and became the darling of the spectators. Or a Formula 1 racing car from the BMW Sauber F1 Team. Drivers Nick Heidfeld, Jacques Villeneuve and test driver Robert Kubica drove this car round countless laps in 2006. Two twelve-cylinder sports engines are also included in the exhibition: the BMW S70/2 and the BMW M12/13. The latter was tuned to generate up to 1400 hp in the mid-1980s. This also made it the most powerful Formula 1 engine of all time. A few exhibits can now be seen on YouTube. A diary date for the “genuine” non-digital opening of the museum has not yet been fixed.
You need music in a car. That’s why we’ve put together a playlist with the best music for driving. The list has been curated by users of the Instagram accounts of MINI CLASSIC and BMW Group Classic. The hits range from chill-out melodies like “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers through full-throttle classics like AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” to cool evening beats like “Happy” by Pharrell Williams: This playlist has the right songs to go on any journey you choose – and it also generates even more anticipation for upcoming road trips. Across the USA, through Europe or anywhere else, for that matter. Okay, then: Turn up the volume and let it rip! And if you get an idea for other songs while you’re listening: Instagram users can use DM (Direct Message) at @bmwclassic to continue tailoring the playlist.