BMW Festival, Munich, September 2016
Tuesday 06 September 2016
After the wet and miserable day for the MG Northumbria Heritage Run on the Sunday, it was a relief that the weather brightened up a bit on the Tuesday. I was at work for the Tuesday morning, getting increasingly impatient to get going. After a quick lunch, the E30 Cabrio was loaded and I was off. A quick stop to fill the tank with some of Shell’s finest and I was at the ferry. I was joined by about 40 NL registered MX5’s, plus what must of been all of the Dutch TVR owners club (most of whom turned up fashionably late) plus a beaten up old E36. Whilst waiting to board I read the e-mail from BMW that had just arrived with the latest updates on the weekend. 98 BMW clubs are coming from Italy, Estonia, Switzerland, Turkey, Moldova, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Austria, Germany, America plus of course the BMWCCGB. BMW were posting on Facebook about the Olympic Stadium being set up for the Festival Night – a 200 ton stage, 1000 lights and 116000 Watts of sound system going in for the one night. This is going to be good. All those two seater cars made for a very full car deck, but a quiet ferry.
After leaving Tynemouth I enjoyed a red wine in the bar whilst reading the latest Straight Six. As we sailed away from England the last of the clouds cleared and the sun sank into the waves, promising a good start to the next day. I had an early night, a bit worried about the many miles lying ahead.
Wednesday 07 September 2016
A day to cover miles. Today I would get more than half way to München. In Holland I had the roof down to enjoy the blue skies. In Germany I put the roof up to get some speed up and cover distance on the relatively quiet A61. On the way I had time to sit thoughtfully and read the numbers on the dash in front of me. And remember that I had done almost 3000 miles so far this year. And I have Classic Insurance with a 3000 mile limit on it. A quick phone call to Footman James and all was sorted for another 2000 miles. At Koblenz I dropped off the A61 and took the B42 as it winds alongside the Rhine in the Obere Mittelrheintal. The late afternoon sun had brought the Cabrios out to play so I had plenty of company.
After another Autobahn run, and a visit to a friend for an evening meal, I had a last stretch of roof down motoring through the dusk before I reached my overnight stop outside Heidelberg.
Thursday 08 September 2016
Today was a day of Autobahns. A6, A81 and a long time on the A8 direction München.
On the A6 I passed the Museum Sinsheim with the morning sun glinting off the wings of Concorde and the Tupolev TU144 ‘Concordski’. A unique sight, this is the only place in the world to see both together. Unfortunately there wasn’t the time to stop and explore this wonderland of technology today. It was a long but pleasant drive down, I was hoping to see other classic BMWs heading for the festival, but only saw one old Mercedes and a new M4 showboating past me on the A8. I got to the hotel mid-afternoon, checked in and then took the Cabrio out to refuel and get washed. All the car washes were machine washes only, which my old Cabrio does not agree with. I also do not agree with bailing all the water out of various obscure places afterwards. None would let me hand wash the car, and even the local BMW dealer couldn’t help as it would breach his insurance. Eventually I persuaded the owner of a small car wash to fill my bucket and let me wash my car out the back.
There was time for a walk down to the stunning Lake Starnberg, with crystal clear water, and a Schwarzwalder Kirsch ice cream, before walking back to the hotel to meet the BMWCCGB Tour group in the bar ready for a well earned buffet dinner, and an exchange of stories of all our adventures so far.
Friday 09 September 2016
I couldn’t sleep, so got up early. I had a quick breakfast and then arranged to convoy into the Festival with Sam and Kate in their CSL, and giving lifts to Howard and Colin. I ended up being the first car on the BMW 3er (E21 & E30) Club stand (probably because I was there more than two hours before my assigned slot!). It did mean I got pole position in Block 9, where we had a whole row of the Parkharfe assigned to the club. By the time I got the car tidied up and the BMWCCGB NE Region flag put up a few others had turned up. Along with one of them was a hard to find part that one club member had sold to me, sent to another club member who drove it to Munich to hand it over to me. After registration I had a quick wander around the cars that had already arrived and watched some more arriving.
It was a weird feeling to not just see rare BMWs, but to see multiples of them gleaming together in the sun – 16 Z1s in a row, 8 Z8s neatly lined up, 5 2002 turbos, 6 M1s. A whole load of E21s and E30s keeping mine company. A few us wandered over to the BMW Museum, where I lost myself in blue and white daydreams of all 3 Series generations, a lovely 750iL, and my three favourite engines on display – M20, M50/52 and N52.
I recovered in time to remember to get to BMW Welt for 2:45 to join the rest of the BMWCCGB group for our private tour of the BMW factory. It was fascinating to watch hundreds of 3 series and 4 series being made, all well explained by our host Adrian a trainee BMW Engineer.
After the 2 ½ hour tour I was beginning to run out of steam, so headed back to the Parkharfe (via the BMW Welt to buy some umbrellas for my BMWs). There I joined up with colleagues from various German and Swiss clubs for a well-deserved Münchener Hellbier and a Bratwurst over the usual BMW tales, and listening to the BMW Factory band playing on the stage set up in the parking area for the Festival.
Saturday 10 September 2016
I got up early to accompany Soni and Keith in their E30 325i and M3, as we had persuaded the BMW Festival organizer to give the BMWCCGB tour group two extra car passes. When Soni parked up at the Parkharfe he was like a 10 year old at Christmas - we had to virtually drag him to the registration tent. I headed over to the Olympiaturm to get a good view over Munich, BMW Welt, the BMW Museum and Factory, and the Olympic Grounds. I couldn’t spot my car in the Parkharfe, but I was about 290 metres up. I also could look down into the Olympic Stadium and get my first sneak preview of the preparation going on for the evening show.
I walked on to BMW Welt. Unfortunately the xDrive Parcours was fully booked up, so I consoled myself with another visit to the BMW Welt shop.
It was time to head back to the Parkharfe to see more cars, meet more people and generally soak up the atmosphere and some beer. My car was attracting a lot of attention as it was one of the very few Right Hand Drive cars there, and as a convertible with roof and windows down it allowed a good view and plenty of photos were being taken.
As it had been sitting in the bright sun for a few hours, both the black bodywork and the black leather seats were too hot to touch. I took advantage of the heat to have a glass of wine and treat the seats with a liberal dose of Lederzentrum Elephant Fat. As it is a very thick cream it just sits on the surface if applied cold, but in the heat it melts deep into the leather.
I left it soaking in all afternoon, resulting in my seats now being wonderfully soft and supple. I headed off to visit the new BMW Classic, eating a quick lunch on the shuttle bus over there. I met up with the BMWCCGB tour group who were just leaving, and sat with Howard in the cafe for a much needed cold drink. The BMW Classic was only open to club members, so had a very relaxed atmosphere compared to the other areas which were open to the public and were hot and busy. We could wander around and look at the rare and unique classics stored and under maintenance there –many cars I have only seen in books or magazines before. In one of the workshops they had a stripped down E30 Convertible bodyshell – a Diamantschwarz pre-facelift just like mine. Although it was in a fenced off area, by finding the right person I managed to talk my way into the workshop to have a closer look and get some photos. It is a customer’s car that is undergoing a full restoration by BMW Classic at a cost of €130,000!
It was time for another rest. After getting an ice cream from a mini converted into an ice cream van I settled into one of the BMW Classic logo’ed deck chairs in the shade of the factory entrance, surrounded by BMWs, Minis and Rolls Royces, where I was joined by some Dutch BMW drivers who I knew from a previous meeting.
We took the shuttle bus back to the Biergarten in the Parkhafre to have bratwurst with fellow BMW drivers from the UK, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland. After the usual chat about the cars we had seen that day it was time to head into the Olympic Stadium for the Festival Night. The Festival Night was just too big and dramatic for me to describe. Particular highlights for me were the rare BMWs driving performers onto the stage, Simply Red, the Elvis 507 making an unannounced appearance and being lipsticked by the host, the 1972 Olympic Torch carrying motorbike and the finale of ‘A Hundred Years’ accompanied by a pair of i8s.
After the show BMW kept the BMW Welt open late, so Howard, Colin and myself used it as a refuge until the U-Bahn had calmed down a bit from the 30,000+ visitors making their way home.
Sunday 11 September 2016
I had to get up very early and have breakfast at 7am as Howard had very kindly offered to drive me back to the Parkhafre to pick up my car. About 30% of the cars were still there, covered in light dew and glinting in the early morning sun. Security was still very tight and it was only possible to get into the area with a car owner ID badge. This meant there was hardly anyone there and it was a great opportunity to wander around and enjoy the cars.
I drove out to a small town outside Munich to join a group of 3 and 5 Series drivers for a long lazy breakfast. On the way out I visited the BMW Classic.
After breakfast four of us started the drive home in a NL-D-GB convoy, heading up the Romantische Strasse. The others had to drop off gradually as they needed to get back on the Autobahns for the drives home. I stayed on the Romantische Strasse for a while, went across country on small L and K category roads (some single track lanes), ending with an evening sweep along the banks of the Neckar river until reaching my overnight stop outside Heidelberg.
Monday 12 September 2016
Today I needed to keep to the Autobahns and make good time so that I didn’t miss the ferry. On the quiet stretch of the A61 as it approaches the Dutch border I let my Cabrio go. There was some traffic so I had to moderate the speed a bit, but reached 190kmh (120mph) before Germany ran out and I had to slow down for the Netherlands. The Dutch seem to have a liking for E30s – I had quite a few cars slow down to take photographs (and not just police cars!). On the dockside I met a Pembleton Three Wheeler returning from a meeting in Germany, before boarding for a steak and red wine dinner.
I had driven over 1200 miles in a week, with my Cabrio showing much more resilience and stamina than I did. I also walked over 30km during the Festival itself, as there was so much to see and do. All this in temperatures of 26-32C and under blue skies the whole time. It was a fabulous experience to be at the BMW Festival, where my Cabrio was one of 1000 cars selected worldwide to represent the brand's 100 year history. It never missed a beat on the whole journey, used zero oil or water, reached 190kmh/120mph, and returned 32mpg. I’m very happy with my 28 year old car. Many thanks to the BMWCCGB and Scenic & Continental Tours (in particular Howard and Kieran) for all the organisation, the BMWCCGB and BMW E21/E30 Club (and 96 other clubs) members for the company and tall stories, and the BMW Festival, BMW Group Classic, BMWCCGB and BMW E21/E30 Club for making it all possible in the first place.