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.

Corporate headquarters on the left, museum on the right

Corporate headquarters on the left, museum on the right

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.

1939 Model 335

1939 Model 335

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.

The forerunner of the modern motorcycle

The forerunner of the modern motorcycle

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.  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:

How beautiful

How beautiful.  A 1934 model 315/1

1998 Z1--notice the doors retracting into the body.

1998 Z1–notice the doors retracting into the body.

There were some strange and exotic things, too.

1955 Isetta.  There is only one door--the front of the vehicle opens out, steering wheel and all.

1955 Isetta. There is only one door–the front of the vehicle opens out, steering wheel and all.

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.

Who hid the engine in this 1955 Model 700?

Who hid the engine in this 1964 Model 700?

The engine is in the rear, of course.  An air-cooled flat four–somebody was peeking at Volkswagens.  This vehicle was not a success.

Maybe it's a German Corvair.

Maybe it’s a German Corvair.

.

There was a wonderful race car– a winner of the famed Miglia Milla, the 1,000 mile road race through Italy.

1939 Model 328

1939 Model 328

It looks pretty good from the front, too.

It looks pretty good from the front, too.

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.

1939 BMW 328

1939 BMW 328

I'm in love.

I’m in love.

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4 thoughts on “Big Boy’s Toys

  1. Picked up a car there, in 86. Not just a car–325. Sold last year to tenant . who immediately commenced destruction, bit by bit–bumper in the driveway, etc. Sad end to my baby

  2. Friend of the family had an Isetta back in the early 60s. Cool little car – a bit weird to enter/exit, but I still remember it to this day.

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