Make Your Own Bimmerfest: It’s More Fun That Way
Photography by Alex Sobran
Here are some facts: Bimmerfest was a few weeks ago. BMW is my favorite car manufacturer. I didn’t go to Bimmerfest.
The thought of driving hours into the heat-hazed desert to see squadrons of cookie-cut M4s and fake BBSes underneath poorly-rolled E30 fenders just to find maybe four or five cars that I’ve already seen on every corner of the Internet didn’t seem to me like a productive or even indulgently unproductive way to write a story on a piece of the larger community of BMW owners in California.
What I did do was go to the afterparty though, and obviously not the kind where people park new BMWs in front of neon signs and pay the price of genuine BBSes for a skinny bottle of Svedka to be walked over to your table by a bartender who isn’t impressed by your ability to be a “baller.” Instead, I drove about an hour north in my favorite E36 M3 (aka my high-mileage purple daily driver) after a quick wash to remove a week’s worth of white cooked-on bird product to my friend’s house/photo set to play badminton and talk about old Bimmers. It was a blast.
Big important car shows are big and important for reasons that sometimes seem to come down to simply the “big” portion, and of course some of them really are worth attending, but I think the potential for true car-sparked camaraderie is higher when things are kept tight-knit. It’s not that I’m advocating exclusivity—that mentality should only be reserved for entrants into concours and the like, and even then it can be a bit too much pomp for the circumstance—it’s just that when you’d rather talk to the people around you than go over build sheets and spec lists and blah blah blah, I think that speaks to the trite but true notion that all this stuff with cars is really more about the people inside them.
If this is gushy or overly sentimental that’s fine with me, because sometimes it’s nice to drop the act that we don’t sometimes feel like that. But, this is Petrolicious and not Happy Hug Time, so onto the cars, because if you share an affinity for ‘80s and ‘90s BMWs, there were some pretty choice chaperones at this party that I think you might enjoy.
Most—well, almost all save for what I think is the cleanest Cosmos Black Lux M3 I’ve seen in person—of these cars have been modified for both looks and performance, but that doesn’t mean their owners don’t respect the original intents of BMW. In fact, I’d be willing to guess that most of them know a whole hell of a lot more about the cars than the purist (and there’s nothing wrong with that) who might scoff at something that’s had some work done. That’s not posturing, it’s just true; like I said, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it all-OEM, the important thing is to keep an open mind toward those that don’t.
With a few Shark-nosed slabs hunched over upsized wheels, some scrappy but handsome track-duty E30s and ones meant for style over speed, a handful of different M3 (M4 now too I suppose) generations, plus one immaculate red 535is, the paver driveway hosted a smaller crowd than that at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana (where Bimmerfest is held on a sweltering range of black asphalt), but meeting up with old and new friends trumps any scale: quality over quantity.