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.
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.
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.
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.
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.