This is not exactly an automobile portrait but more like a short story about the pickup of my American colleague’s new BMW in the manufacturer’s event delivery point BMW Welt in Munich, Germany.
Rob and I have become good friends since we met first time. We are both petrol heads who like the pleasure of driving Bavarian cars very much. It was not surprising that he called me when he decided to buy a new BMW convertible and to pick it up in Germany instead of having it delivered to Boston, MA. There was no doubt I would accompany him to BMW Welt in Munich. I had been there just 3 weeks before to pickup my own company car, a 525d touring, and I had enjoyed the atmosphere and architecture of this great location.
At that time (November 2007) picking up the car in Munich and driving it around a few days in Europe before delivering it to BMW’s transportation partner in Frankfurt (who took care of shipping it from Bremerhaven to New Jersey) was not only far more fun than picking it up at the local dealer in Massachusetts but also cheaper even considering the cost for an intercontinental flight for one person (which Rob was able to avoid as he had to visit our office anyway and could combine the two things in one travel).
Rob took the flight from Logan airport to Rhein-Main airport and came to our German office nearby Frankfurt. In the evening we picked up a rental car for our trip to Munich.
Rob was very exited when entering into the building made of steel and glass. Even someone who didn’t like the Bavarian automobile brand would like the impressive architecture I am sure.
I already knew the procedure from the pickup I had done previously, but for Rob it was like Christmas (just a few weeks to early). After submitting the necessary documents to the BMW employee, we received our slot for picking up his new car. BMW took care that there was no boredom until the great moment, we received vouchers for lunch, for entry to the BMW Museum (which was still under renovation construction as a few weeks before so we had to live with a limited subset of the normal exposition in a provisional building in the Olympic Parc of Munich in front of BMW’s head quarter and BMW Welt) and for the souvenir shop. We also received vouchers for a factory tour which we did after picking up the new 335i Convertible.
At 1:30 pm it was Rob’s great moment. We went to the pickup meeting point and first saw Rob’s new BMW, a dream in a great metallic Montego Blue, turning on a special presentation table below the viewing balcony. Before we had the chance to enter and touch the car we went to the experience section where Rob spent time seeing a Virtual Reality introduction of his car. Writing this in 2018 it sounds far less spectacular than it was in 2007. We were able to have a 360 degree VR presentation of the outside and inside of his specific car, with all the options Rob had ordered. Then he had (the pleasure) to drive his car in a car simulator, again: the car behaved exactly like his future car. For those of you who were born after 2000, this was state of the art in 2007. In 2018 owners of a Playstation and Gran Turismo can have a similar experience in their living room - that’s called progress!
Rob very much enjoyed his virtual experience but could not wait for the real experience, getting the key and sitting in his new acquisition. smelling the leather interior, trying the iDrive controller and other buttons and seeing the foldable hardtop appearing from and disappearing again in the trunk (which, for that reason, is far smaller than in my E30 convertible, I guess this is progress too…?).
The moment finally came and Rob was like a little kid in front of the Christmas tree. He recognized that it was the right decision to buy this beautiful and powerful convertible, not that there ever was a doubt in his mind regarding his decision…
Although we had a full introduction in the virtual world, we had another extensive one by the colleague in the real world. I took some pictures to save the moment for Rob’s family in the States and then we could drive the car from the pickup area and deliver it back to a BMW guy outside of the building who secured Rob to take special care of his new family member while we did the factory tour which Rob was very interested in .
The factory tour was a Deja-vu with my former professional life. Before entering into the software business (where I met Rob) I was directing a business unit of a leading provider of automatized materials-handling solutions and was responsible for the worldwide business with BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and some other car manufacturers in France and Asia. I had seen everything hundred times before and some of the production lines we visited had been projected and installed under my direction. For Rob it was very interesting as I could give him even more information about the production equipment than the guide (who did a good job, no doubt about that).
After spending the voucher and some additional money in BMW’s souvenir shop it was time to take the Autobahn back to Frankfurt. Before that we had to find the first petrol station in Munich which has to be a money printing machine as each BMW is delivered almost empty to its new owner. Rob must have been shocked when paying his bill as the price for petrol was a multiple of what he would have paid in the US, but Rob was too happy to complaint about anything on that evening.
After our break for a Bavarian dinner in a small village off the Autobahn (the german highway), Rob was asking me whether I would like to drive the car for the remaining 300 kms. Although he is a very experienced driver, he is not used to the German Autobahn speed, and even less in the dark and not familiar with the route. He wanted to see the car running on its maximum speed, knowing that this would be the first and only time that the car would go that speed unless Rob was keen to go to jail when attempting it again in the US. As today’s motors (even in 2007) are manufactured with far less tolerances than those built in former times and the oil temperature was ok and we already had gone through all rpm areas, we both were feeling ok to make a short run at maximum speed. When I have said before that Rob was like a kid at christmas time, I haven’t thought about how to express an increase of that expression as I would need to for what was happening then. Rob was delighted and took pictures of the tachometer, which obviously were all blurry because of the lack of light and the amount of vibrations at 255 km/h or 155 mph. But he was very happy and we both enjoyed the ride in his new car.
Eventually we arrived at Frankfurt and finished the night with a an Ebbelwoi, Frankfurt’s typical drink (aka Apfelwein or Äppler), a cider which has nothing to do with its sweet and sparkling French cousin.
Rob had a few more days with us in the German office and gave the car to the transport agent before he flew back to Boston. Luckily it was December and everybody who has ever visited Massachusetts in winter time knows that there is no need for a convertible during that period. Snow can be as high that even the typical SUVs which Americans seem to love are having trouble. Definitively no time for a brand new convertible with rear wheel drive which no real car lover would drive in an icy and/or salty environment.
Five or six weeks later, in January 2008, I went to Boston to our regular quarterly offsite meeting. As always I took the opportunity to spend a few more days over there and visit my colleagues in the US headquarter.
Not sure whether Rob’s car had been delivered already to New Jersey’s port or not at that time, but when greeting my colleagues many of them mentioned a video: “Hi Frank, I saw the video" or "Great video!”. I hadn’t realized it, but when Rob was trying to take pictures of the tachometer during our trip from Munich to Frankfurt he finally gave up and took a video instead, which showed the acceleration from 190 km/h (approx. 120 mph) to the maximum speed and the slowdown caused by a sudden speed limit (and a bit by our caution for the new engine…). For our colleagues in Massachusetts this was such an unusual thing as the speed limit over there is 55 mph (not even 89 km/h). On some Interstates it has been raised in the meanwhile to 65 mph (almost 105 km/h) as far as I know.
Whenever I came to Rob’s office afterwards (which now is history as I left the company in the meanwhile) his German number plate which is part of the decoration of his office reminded me of the pickup tour above described.
Cars&Types fact sheet „CAR":
Year: 2008 (as it took more than a month to transport the car from Germany to the US, it was registered in 2008 although hving built and picked up in 2007)
Number of cylinders and configuration : 6, row
Total cubic capacity, power: 3,0 litres, 400 HP (after modification)
Maximum speed: 175 mph (delimited, after modification)
Colour: Montego blue
Odometer reading: Approx. 22,000 miles
Current condition: Engine modified to 400 HP and 400 ft·lb
Owned by me: Since 2007
Why exactly this vehicle: For the power!
Average mileage per year: About 2,500 miles
Usage: On nice days only
Longest and most beautiful travels with the vehicle: Boston to Toronto and Munich to Frankfurt (see above)
I would give the car away if: "Never (ok maybe to my kids some day)"
Cars&Types fact sheet „TYPE“:
Age: 47 (in 2018)
Location: Boston Area, MA, USA
Profession: IT guy
Other vehicles (in 2018): 2014 Mercedes AMG C63 507 and 2016 BMW X5 35i M-sport
First car and motorbike: Nissan Sentra and Yamaha XS400 (first really was a Honda XR80)
Unfulfilled vehicle dream: Ferrari 458 Spider