Bavarian Motor Works Legends Abound At Woodley Park in SoCal

If you are a fan of classic and vintage BMW automobiles, Southern California is one of the parts of the United States where you can find some incredible machinery. Long ago, I lived in the Northeast, and while New England was beautiful and nothing beat a cold October morning for a drive through blazing red and orange foliage, running into vintage cars was a rarity. Pre-dating the early morning monthly get togethers that we’ve come to call Cars and Coffee (and other variations of the name) we would end up searching for the odd car show to fill our desire for cars from yesteryear.

When I moved to Los Angeles, all that changed. My ownership of (and love for) the first generation BMW M3 helped me quickly establish a group of fellow M3 drivers. Much to my dismay, their’s were all mostly perfect. No rust, no dust, no must — these cars were in frustratingly gorgeous condition, and I had a renewed understanding of what a properly preserved or restored classic could be.

Fast forward 15 years, and I’m here to brag that we are lucky to have numerous collector car meets year-round here in Los Angeles. One of the most glorious events of the year takes place the first weekend of November, and is a get together of the best-of-the-best in the vintage BMW community. Thrown by the creators of  SoCal Vintage BMW, this event brings cars and spectators from all over California to spend a day under the sun and talk cars, swap parts and gear, and take home trophies.

Without further ado, I’d love to highlight some of my favorites from the event.

The 2002 Turbo

First things first, BMW’s much adored, segment creating, and company saving New Class cars abound at this show every year. Everything from the 1600 to the revered 2002 Turbo arrive in style along with shops who have refurbished them and vendors with new-old-stock items available for sale.

This year, we were treated to not one, but THREE gorgeous 2002 convertibles.

Look at the lines and color on this car. What a beauty!

You can keep your iPad dashboards. Give me analogue artwork gauges any day of the week.

Tricky but rewarding to drive, the 2002 Turbo has become a six-figure dollar collector car.

The beginnings of turbo technology on cars, this simple but effective power-adder made the 2002 a force to be reckoned with. 170 hp and less than 1,700 of them were ever made.

The E9 Coupes

BMW’s high-end luxury sporting coupes started with the E9 chassis. I’ll be honest, I want to learn more about these coupes. They are absolutely stunning in person, replete with a lusty straight-six, devoid of a B-pillar, and filled with leather and wood appointments. The legendary BMW Batmobile in street trim was the flagship model, while the racing version conquered tracks and foes worldwide, driven by guys with last names like Redman, Ickx, and Stuck.

E9 Coupes, in all their glory. No B pillar makes for an airy and open greenhouse.

Look at the fins on the fender!

Luxurious interior. Is black on red one of the greatest combos? I think so!

Last one I promise….look at that nose profile! Aggressive and stylish.

The 6 Series

In the 1980s, BMW’s flagship coupe was the 6 Series. Here are two examples (out of many fine ones) that showed up. A 635 and the rare and very fast M6. In Euro-trim the M6 had 286 hp and was an honest-to-goodness contender against the supercars of the day. Our U.S. version is a little more bloated with luxury and catalytic converters that give it less horsepower than it’s European counterpart, but it continues to be a lovely driving machine that turns heads and puts your butt firmly in the seat at full throttle.

The BMW E30

At any BMW event, there is no shortage of E30s — the entry level BMW from the mid- to late-1980s. Fun to drive and fun to look at despite their boxy appearance, Southern California has a lot of mint ones. Here’s one with period-correct aftermarket side skirts. I’m not sure what the story with front valance is, but it is not stock and I wasn’t able to find the owner to ask more questions.

I’m a purist at heart and am not really a fan of engine transplants in rare cars. However, the guys at Castro Motorsports do incredible work and if you’re going make a Frankenbimmer, they really know how to make the install look and feel stock. Here is some of their handiwork displayed at the event.

A Neue Klasse coupe with the heart of an E30 M3. Lightweight, lots of revs, lots of power — this thing must be a hoot to drive!

E30 Tourings are rare, having never been sold in the U.S. If you see one, know that somebody put in a lot of time to import it. In the case of this car, someone also installed a supercharged S54 inline-six. The perfect sleeper to take the kids to the movies!

The S54 already makes about 330 stock horsepower, so why not add a supercharger and stuff it into a station wagon? I’m all about it.

This is my nightmare: an engine swapped E30 M3. My inner purist hates it and all it stands for, but my inner teenager sees the S54 and BBS LMs and says “spend all your money and get one!” Stunning.

The 8 Series Coupe

Want super rare 8 series coupes? Here’s a pile of them. The violet car below is 1 of 1 in the world packing a V12 and a five-speed stick.

The Alpina B8

I’m a dodo and forgot to take exterior pictures of the Alpina B8, but here is a shot of the car from a recent event – look for it for sale on Bring a Trailer in the next few weeks from the well-known BaT luminary, WOB.

Alpina-modified BMWs are among the rarest of the breed. Well loved and in amazing condition, this Blue B8 stole my heart.

Here are the interior shots of the Alpina B8. I was so excited I forgot to shoot the outside of the car!

There were just too many cars to count and photograph, so this is just a sample of what you can see. You’ll just have to come next year. Make sure to arrive early, grab a coffee from the food truck, and enjoy the show.

About the author

Kasra Ajir

Having competed, raced, or trained with SCORE, SCCA, NASA, BMW CCA, and more, Ajir is well seasoned in the various series that pollinate the grassroots and professional auto racing world.
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