Sit back, relax, it's a long one.... (if the pictures load).
My addiction to the brand started in 2005 when I sold by SUV and sport bike and bought a 2003 E39 M5, and I’ve been drinking from the ///M fountain ever since. It’s hard to go back to a regular series based car once you’ve sampled ///M. Meeting my future wife in ’07 didn’t help, as she owns a E36 M3, then bought an E30 M3, and convinced me to get an E86 M Coupe so that maybe I could beat her at autocross.
She HATES Mercedes Benz as they have no steering feel, and don’t come in manuals. Oh yes, she is a keeper!!!
So, in 2009, my (soon to be) wife signed us up for the 2 day ///M School in Spartanburg, South Carolina. We were able to spend two days pushing the current ///M cars to their limits and occasionally beyond our limits. As the instructors said, “Don’t worry, N.Y.C., Not Your Car”.
I learned a few things from this experience. 1st I’m addicted to cars, and BMW in particular; 2nd DCT and M3 chassis made a believer out of this “manual only” enthusiast; 3rd there is always room to improve the skill of the nut behind the wheel and that I’m not nearly as good a driver as I thought I was; and most importantly, 4th we were going to need an M3 of our own.
In early 2011 it was finally time to start thinking about getting an M3 in earnest. My M Coupe was going out of warranty in the summer, and as a daily driver it was turning out to be less practical than I wanted, so we agreed that we would sell it (after Barber BMWCCA Ofest ’11), and then I’d pick up a late 2012 E92 M3 before it went out of production. As a family of BMW nuts, we knew that if we were going to buy a new car, it should be through European Delivery as we’d read and heard too many stories about it not to experience it firsthand. With a plan to pick up one of the last E92 M3’s in June of 2012, the M Coupe was sadly sold to a fellow enthusiast in California in December of 2011. I started driving my wife’s autocross winning E36 M3 as she had staked daily use claims to the E39 M5 when I experimented with daily driving the M Coupe. With rumors of the E92 continuing production through 2013 I started stressing and reconsidering the timing of the purchase. In February of 2012 I got confirmation straight from Matt Russell that the E92 would be produced through June of 2013, so we shifted our plans to get the car in early September as a 2013 model.
With the timing out of the way it was time to work through the options list and get the car ordered and get the key parts of the trip planned.
With the car order confirmed for production, the plane tickets booked, and 7 days of vacation approved we were on our way for our week in Germany. After a 15 hour flight through London we arrived in Munich on a Sunday afternoon to pleasant 80 degree weather. We took the U-Bahn to central Munich and checked into the Four Points Sheraton OlympiaPark hotel, which was directly off the U-Bahn exit, across the street from the BMW Factory, and a 5 minute walk to the Museum and Welt. Perfect location!! Clean, efficient rooms with Wi-Fi, so all we could want.
Once checked in we headed for BMW Welt, and to our surprise it was still open. It’s an amazing structure, and with the large windows you are able to see the other notable BMW facilities across the street.
The full line up of cars and motorcycles are on display with interactive kiosks highlighting some of the technology. From the 2nd floor you can see the area where people get “introduced” to their new BMWs.
The theatrics of it are over the top, but hey, we’re flying half way across the world to pick up a CAR
, it should be an event. After strolling around for an hour or so we caught the U-Bahn and headed to Marienplatz City Center for dinner at one of the cafes and to have our 1st exposure to sausage and beer. Luckily for us, many of the restaurants have English menus so we didn’t have to muddle through our lack of German.
(Monday) was a late start as we adapted to Munich time, we went back to the Welt to see some cars being delivered and then do a tour of the factory. We also signed in for our delivery the next day so that we could get our free factory tour passes and access to the Premium Lounge. Since we weren’t picking up until the next day we sampled the pretzels, beer and chocolate mousse desserts. On the Munich factory tour I felt a lot closer to the robots building the cars as you were literally walking across sections of the assembly and parts had to wait for us to cross a section before they would automatically start heading off to their destination. The Munich plant builds the new 3 series sedan and wagon, and 4 and 8 cylinder engines. They make most of the 4 and 8 cylinder BMW engines, and send them off to the other factories around the world. The factory puts out about 900 3 series a day. After the tour we headed back down to Marienplatz to walk around the Viktualienmarkt to see the fresh foods and plants for sale, as well as tour the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) building and square. We ended the day having dinner and beer at the historic Hofbrauhaus.
was delivery day, but before we picked up the car in the afternoon, we had a special treat, as we had been invited to attend the US M5 Launch event at the ///M Studio outside of Munich. Outside the studio were about 20 M5 that had just been delivered to US owners over the prior 3 days. Inside the studio they had examples of their “Chrome Bullet” M3, an individual color M5 and M6 as well as an old school individual long wheelbase 7 series with a crazy orange to red paint fade. They had a few quick presentations and a few engineers on hand to answer questions about the current M5, but went quiet if you asked about future production cars.
They did have a secret back parking lot that we got to walk through that had their test mules all wrapped up in the squiggly black and white paint schemes. Walking through the lot we got a glimpse of the new F80 M3 sedan, the nose of the M Grand Coupe, and the M version of the upcoming X5, that had a bassy rumble that restored my faith that the new turbo ///M cars will sound properly menacing. We stayed at the studio for about two hours. The rest of group headed up the mountains for a drive and then on to a restaurant, but we needed to pick up our car, so we went back to the Welt to tour the BMW Museum as time slowly ticked down to our 3:40PM delivery. The museum had a lot of interactive displays detailing history, innovation, motorsports, design, and marketing. While you couldn’t touch most of the cars, it still had a warm feel. It was nice to see some of the classics, a real E46 M3 CSL, and a prototype 850i convertible.
September 4th, 3:20PM. We enter the premium lounge and see our name on the board for a delivery in 20 minutes.
Peering out the glass to the delivery area we see a white M3 with fox red interior and competition package wheels on display. As we press our hands and faces against the glass to get a better look, we think, that has to be our car.
With that first look I felt emotions swell and blood rushing out of my head, and I couldn’t fathom that after all the anticipation, we were finally seeing our new car. A car we have been dreaming about for over 4 years. We sneak around the lounge to the balcony without glass to get an unobstructed view of the car, and count down the minutes and seconds until we can go see it up close. At 3:40 we meet Judith, our delivery specialist, and she starts giving us details about BMW’s history and all I can think about is let’s get down to the car!! We slowly make our way down the staircase from the premium lounge on the 3rd floor to the delivery area on the 2nd floor, and as we get to a landing on the stairs we see the car at the bottom of the stairs, and then Judith has us pause there and take it all in.
She uses this time to activate the turn table, so now the car starts spinning around. As we look at the car at the bottom of the stairs we can also see the BMW through the top of the Welt glass wall behind the car. It’s just a great view, and best expressed by the huge grin on my face as I stare at the car. As we get down to the car, the car stops spinning, and we finally get to put our fingers on the car as Judith walks us through every component of the car over the next hour and a half.
She helps us setup our navigation destinations and my iPhone so we’ll have music to listen to during our trip. Unfortunately many of the functions such as BMW Assist, the Remote app and BMW ConnectedDrive wouldn’t be able to work until I was back in the US as I didn’t have cellular service. I had a t-shirt on that I had gotten from my wife a few weeks before and everyone around us wanted to see it, and all the delivery specialists wanted to know where you could get it. I figured if you’re flying across the world to pick up a car, it was an appropriate shirt to wear “Still plays with CARS”.
The delivery manager liked it so much he agreed to fire up the M5 Police car they had on display so we could take pictures of the two cars driving around the delivery floor.
So after our intro to the car we headed out of the Welt after one more victory lap, and on to German roads for the 1st time, just in time for rush hour traffic, and a realization that when they say there is only minimal fuel in the car, they mean it. 90 euros later, I have a full tank of gas and make our 2nd attempt to get on to a clear road. We find an autobahn and get our first experience of German driving. No billboards for this product or that store, no drivers on cell phones, just signs for exits, signs for speed limits, and signs for passing, and drivers respecting the left lane as the passing lane! What a joy! We head back to the hotel, have some Italian food, and put a close on a very special day.
started with us heading through the Alps into Austria and going to Innsbruck to visit the Swarovski Kristallwelten, which had lots of art work that made us of Swarovski crystal. It was pretty cool. We then headed to our hotel in Fussen.
On Day 5
, we got up early so we could make our way up to Neuschwanstein so we could buy tickets before the morning rush got there. The castle was very interesting, but they rush you through so quickly on the guided tour, I didn’t feel like I had enough time to admire all the craftsmanship in any of the rooms. After the tour and the required picture of car and castle, we headed into town to have lunch at a small Italian restaurant that had really good gnocchi.
We then made our way up to Stuttgart to visit the Porsche Museum. While the museum had some very nice historically important cars in it, it just didn’t compare to the BMW museum in terms of experience. Too clinical and cold. I thought it was a bad sign when the ticket lady said it should only take an hour to see the entire museum.
We had dinner at a local biergarden and then went back to the hotel as the next day was going to be a long one, as we were going to Nurburg, and see The Green Hell!!
was spent getting us up to the Ring in time for the early evening open track time. The FIM sport bikes were running on the GP track, but that had no impact on the North Loop. The “hardware” was out in force. GT3, GT3 RS, GT3 RS 4.0, GT2RS, McLaren, AMG Black Series, GTS, 1M’s with roll cages, new M6. Just walking around was a great car show. While I hadn’t driven enough to have by break in, I decided to do a lap of the ring at break-in speed, especially since I had no idea where I was going regardless of how many laps I’ve done in GT4. The cars were flying around the track, and I truly felt like a moving chicane trying to direct other cars around me. It was an awesome experience, but in that stage of my break-in, 1 lap was all I wanted. We headed up to one of the hills to watch the cars run for another 2 hours and then started our drive back towards Munich as the car had to be dropped off the next day.
We got an hour or so out of Nurburg, found a hotel through the nav unit and called it a day. It was supposed to be a 4 hour drive, but it took 6 as we ended up in a 2 hour traffic jam just outside of Stuttgart, which means we were 1/2 hour late for our drop off in Munich, which was already scheduled for after hours, so I was afraid everyone would be gone and I’d have no way to drop off the car. Luckily the lady was still there and we quickly dropped off the car and headed to our hotel. We went back to MarianPlatz that night to have dinner at Ratskeller.
The next morning it was off to the airport and starting the wait for the car. I wish we had two weeks instead of one, as it all went by so quickly and there was so much more to see and do, but I guess that will have to wait until the next trip, oh yes, there will be another Euro Delivery. I can’t see buying a new BMW any other way.
If you made it all the way through my rambles, I applaud you. If the pictures showed up, I applaud Google as well.