BMW – Bayrische Motoren Werke (or Bavarian Motor Works) is, as the name indicates, based in Bavaria. More precisely, their main offices are based in Munich; Bavaria’s capital. Any BMW fanatic that plans to visit Munich has to take a look at the BMW Welt and experience its incredible architecture and fantastic exhibition space, home to some of BMW’s most renowned and rare vehicles. In addition to this one-of-a-kind vehicular showcase, those more interested in the history of the company can cross the street and pay a visit to the BMW museum. Based at the foot of the company’s well known four-cylinder building, the museum showcases even more of BMW’s most magnificent and fascinating vehicles, as well as the racing history of the company.
If these two institutions don’t fix your BMW appetite, then there is only one more place that can; The BMW Group Classic Headquarters. A fifteen minute walk from the BMW Welt and the museum, the Group Classic Headquarters houses one of the largest BMW Collections in the world. The collection features some of the most exclusive and rare vehicles that were ever produced by or in collaboration with the Bavarian firm, and keeps growing year on year with the addition of the company’s new models and finds coming from all over the world. Since 2016 BMW Group Classic has called the 13,000 square meters their home. Not only do they collect the all-time best examples of classic BMWs, but they also facilitate workshop spaces to restore customer vehicles with original spare parts coming from their own hands.
I would say any BMW fan can find something that piques their personal interest inside these collections; whether it be some of the early 501s, or the rare 507s. There’s several different ones within the collection, including Elvis Presley’s very own original 507 (pictured above). Fans of the Z series can spot different examples of Z1s, Z2s, Z3s or even Z8s throughout. Whether it is the Batmobile, the M3 GT or the McLaren F1, this collection definitely has a vehicle for everyone.
For me, the most interesting aspect of these cars is their individual stories. Take the 501 Taxi for example (pictured above); this V8 taxi was driven from 1955 to 1970 and has done over 1 million kilometers, and in 1970 BMW offered the owner a new 1800 in exchange so that they could preserve the one they now have in their collection.
My personal highlight would probably be the 333i — in my eyes it is the perfect E30 sleeper. After numerous victories of the first generation M3 the African market was very keen on the sports three series. Unfortunately, it was never designed to be sold in Africa and so BMW South Africa had to come up with an alternative. In collaboration with Alpina and BMW Motorsport they developed the 333i. Equipped with the M30B32, the 3.2L engine put out 197 horsepower. Although that might not be as much as the M3 it’s as close as they could get. One year later the production of the “Triple Three” was stopped and with only 204 ever built it is one of the rarest E30s today. In fact, the example the collection showcases has only done 14,000 kilometers!
However this is not the only car you can find in the collection that has South African license plates and a steering wheel on the right hand side. This first generation 7 series (pictured below) has a similar story to tell. Although an M7 never existed to fit the car with a matching engine, the M1 did! Yes, this South African E23 is equipped with the M88, engine of the M1. The 724i puts out 290 horsepower and has a manual gearbox, what could possibly top that?!
Examples of the M1 are featured numerous times throughout the collection. For instance, the site holds a few procars like the “Münchner Wirte”, this car being famous for its races at Le Mans in 1981 and its outstanding paint-job. This M1 features all the best attractions in Munich, in my eyes making it a true Bavarian vehicle!
However, one of my all-time favourite race cars has got to be the 2002 Turbo, purely because it was the ultimate race car that you could also drive on the open road. It was the first production car fitted with a turbo in Germany — even before the Porsche 930. The added design feature of “2002 Turbo” printed in mirror on the bumper of the car was so provocative that politicians discussed it in the Bundestag — the centre of German parliament! Eventually it was sold without this feature, though this did not prevent the owners from adding it after their purchase.
Last, but most definitely not least, I don’t think that the 3.0 CSL or the M635csi need any introduction, as you can see them for yourself!