Big Boy’s Toys
BMW. Bayerische Motoren Werke. Bavarian Motor Works. Very nice family cars, mind-rocking sports cars and motorcycles. We saw two sides of Germany in one day–started out at the somber Dachau, then went to the temple of fine sheet metal, the BMW Museum.
The corporate headquarters building is designed to evoke a 4 cylinder engine. The museum building is called “the bowl”, and is clearly modeled on the Guggenheim museum in New York, with an interior ringed by a spiral ramp.
Inside is a phenomenal collection of BMW’s and Mini Coopers (BMW now owns Cooper, as well as Rolls Royce. There are no Rolls in the collection.). Each car is magnificently, perfectly restored to its pristine original condition, maybe even better than new. The place is like an automotive jewel box.
The hotel concierge arranged for us to join one of the the guided tours. Anyone can just walk in and buy a ticket to the collection, but taking the guided tour improves the experience tenfold.
Our tour guide perfect but strangely accented English, using a radio and earphone system that worked badly–surprising in a place so high tech. He was incredibly well trained and knowledgeable, kept the tour moving and was a complete pleasure.
BMW is famous for motorcycles, too. Our friend Karl Rowley has been riding a Beemer for 40 years or so (not the same one, they keep getting better). They originated the flat, two cylinder engine and the shaft driven motorcycle, he looks awesome wearing his shoei helmets while riding such an amazing bike. I can’t look at the bike above and not think of it as much as a work of art as a machine.
The building is a multi-story affair, with great open interior spaces.. There is a vantage point where you can look down on some of the most beautiful of roadsters:
An eye level shot of two of them:
There were some strange and exotic things, too.
The Isetta seats two and goes about 50 miles an hour, if there isn’t a headwind. There are two very very small wheels in the back.
The engine is in the rear, of course. An air-cooled flat four–somebody was peeking at Volkswagens. This vehicle was not a success.
There was a wonderful race car– a winner of the famed Miglia Milla, the 1,000 mile road race through Italy.
From the sleek, fast, techno-wonder of the Beemers, we moved to the Bowl to see an exhibit of Mini-Coopers. The part I liked the most was the specialty versions that have been created over the years:
Finally, we come to the most beautiful car I have ever seen. A convertible street version of the race car above. Although it was powerful and fast, I doubt that it drove as well as my Chrysler 200. Who cares. This car is like liquid sex.