Where else could you turn 100 years old this gracefully? Blue skies with the odd fluffy cloud (creating a most obliging BMW colour scheme) and summer warmth in abundance greeted the 160 enthusiasts who flocked to the BMW Museum in Munich with their 80 beautifully preserved Bavarian gems for a club knees-up of the finest variety. Indeed, all around the world – from Australia and Japan to North and South America – BMW fans came together to do justice to a landmark occasion. Clearly, Germany was never going to take a back seat at such a moment, and what better place to celebrate history than the BMW Museum, just across the way from BMW Welt? Munich, after all, was the starting point for the journey taken by all of these models; this was where they were dreamed up and where many were also built.
Each BMW club has its own character, its particular way of doing things. This may be dictated by the models they choose to focus on, which often inhabit very different parts of the automotive spectrum. After all, a cutesy Isetta is a rather different beast from a 2002, a speedy 700 Coupe not on the same page as a luxurious 850i. But one thing is the same here, wherever you look: the bright light of excitement beaming out from the eyes of the club members when their cars get their moment in the sun. Then, things like valuation, size and even engine power shrink into the shadows; far more important is the feeling they all engender. Everyone present has fallen in love – with the BMW brand as a whole and with the model of their personal desires.
Show me what you’re driving…
… and I’ll tell you a tale or two. Part of the ageing process for any car is the accumulation of the odd story along the way. Wolfgang Busch, for example, started out along a well-trodden path into car fandom. As a student he could only dream of owning an 850i, majestic 12-cylinder and all. Hence the even greater dedication with which he now tends to his sublime coupe, a car apparently impervious to the passing of years. A healthy line-up of these glorious GTs have come together here; Club E31 knows how to put on a show and presides over a proud membership that is now 450 strong.
At the entrance to the BMW Museum, meanwhile, stands a bright red M3, due to celebrate its 30th birthday any time now. Owned by Lutz Petermann, it has provided 225,000 kilometres of wonderful, problem-free motoring. Tourists in their hordes gather for photos around the broad wings of this razor-sharp sporting great. For them, this quite unexpected “special exhibit” is like Christmas come early, as if the museum had been turned inside out.
BMW, Rolls-Royce, MINI – sure. But Glas?
Not many people nowadays realise that BMW Plant Dingolfing once built cars for the Glas brand. Herr Thanner’s Glas 3000 V8 rolled off the assembly line in 1967, BMW having taken over as the company’s new owner. Back then it was every inch the luxury coupe and today it is part of BMW history. Thanner has spent six arduous years on its restoration, essentially rebuilding it from first screw to last with his own hands.
Like Thanner, many owners are keen to get to know their cars inside out, creating a bond between man and machine forged over many years. They also view a club as an important port of call for asking advice, sharing information and – at those times when the search for parts seems hopeless and the car’s technical idiosyncrasies turn repairs into guesswork –seeking solace. Proof, if proof were needed, that clubs are like small families, helping each other out as and when required.
Full speed ahead – to the party!
The new home of BMW Group Classic on Moosacher Straße in Munich welcomed the party guests with a hearty snack, musical entertainment and the sort of surprise you don’t encounter every day. These historic halls were built in 1918 for the production of BMW aero engines, but in the event motorcycles and later cars were made here. Now some 80 vehicles from through the ages – classic Minis and Rolls-Royces included – await a wide range of assignments within their walls. As a rare exception, the doors were opened to all on this day and everyone was invited to admire the treasures inside.
Herr Moser from BMW Group Classic Archive then told us a little about the history of the place. The BMW collection now contains 1,400 vehicles and every year 50 more join their number, including brand new models fresh off the production line. The idea here is that squirreling a particular vehicle away early will save time searching for or painstakingly restoring a suitable example later. Herr Moser’s words elicited a rueful sigh or two from his audience. If only I’d snapped one up back then…
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world…
While the club members set off from Munich on the journey home, the party was only just getting started in North and South America. And in New Zealand, Australia and Japan it had long since drawn to a close. Such is the way of things with a global celebration and a world that is forever turning.
Winter isn’t exactly the best time for a party in Australia or New Zealand either. And yet it was the motorcycle riders – no stranger to a thick jacket, after all – who were particularly determined not to let the occasion pass them by.
The variety of exceptionally well preserved and lavishly restored BMW models still gracing the roads in corners of the world far removed from Munich is truly amazing. Here as well, the concept of Sheer Driving Pleasure needs no explanation; it is there to be seen and experienced.
Our picture galleries from around the world show impressions from different countries which could barely be more different but which all have one thing in common: the roaring spirits and pride inspired in their owners by cars and motorcycles from the BMW brand.