The Fast, Low & Rare BMWs Of Bimmerfest
More Than Just A Car Show

If you drive a BMW, you’ll know how strong the ‘family’ is. While you would normally expect it to be stronger the closer you are to Europe, the West Coast of the USA has proven to be just as amazing or, in some ways, better with Bimmerfest.

There are two amazing things we must talk about when it comes to the annual event. The first is that, despite taking place at Auto Club Speedway’s infield, it was absolutely packed. From the moment you passed under the tunnel at turn four, you saw BMWs and not much unoccupied pavement. I’ve been to several car events at Auto Club Speedway and I have rarely seen it this full of cars outside of a NASCAR or IndyCar event. The other thing is that this is a two-day event. That alone should tell you how big of an event this is for Californian BMW fans.

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There was a lot going on, as well. Not only was Speed Ventures out for track day duty, there was also a road course challenge put on by Bilstein. If you didn’t want to track your BMW, you could always sign up to take a hot lap with the BMW Performance Driving Center’s car and driver. If you wanted to prove how powerful your car was, the dyno was on hand for both days. Even in the heat of the day, the line stretched out several cars deep.

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Our friends at CSF were out displaying their new triple-cooling solution for the F80/82/83 chassis M cars. While the wrinkle finish is what normally comes on the charge-air cooler, they were also displaying a version that was hydro-dipped. Since it’s an air-to-water style cooler, these types of coatings shouldn’t affect performance. It’s also been well proven on the Yost Autosport M4 race car that’s just undergone a ground-up rebuild. Dino checked out the F82 in a quick spotlight last year, so it’s probably time we revisit this one for a full feature.

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Continuing on with vendor row, we stopped by several, but an interesting one was this guy painting a BMW using acrylic paint in a stained-glass theme, freehand. That takes a lot of talent, even if the sketch was laid out.

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It was also fun to see some BMW drift guys come out and represent. A big favorite in Formula Drift Pro2, Andy Hately was displaying his car and talking to fans. Of course, it’s pretty hard to miss the bright orange paint job and the Magnuson supercharger that pokes out of the E30’s hood.

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KW had two very spectacular IND builds on display, and you’ll probably recognize the purple M4 from its recent feature. We’ll have to find a way to get the green M2 now – it has a lot of very lightweight and high-end BMW parts in it. IND even had to create a way for the M4 mirrors to mount to the doors and allow them to function just as they do in the bigger chassis. It’s an impressive build that this mention doesn’t do enough justice to.

On the parts front, Mackin Industries was on display with the RAYS Volk Racing TE37 Saga in 5×120 bolt spacing for BMW fitments.

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Also of interest was the Project Kics 11mm 5×120 to 5×114.3 conversion. That is a very thin bolt-on conversion spacer, but one of the best ways to get more wheel selection for a car or truck with 5×120 without having to use a spacer that’s the same width as a standard lug nut – about 30mm. Having worked with Mackin in the past (I was in its motorsports sales and tech department three years prior to coming on board with Speedhunters), I can say it’s another quality Japanese-made product that’s tested far beyond just putting it on and saying ‘yeah, it fits.’

Classics Done Deutschland

From 2002s to E30s, there were quite a few classic BMWs on display at Bimmerfest. If you wanted old models done right, you definitely had your pick. Dinan had this spectacular 2002 in their booth, while BMW CCA had a sedan and coupe E30 that made me stop and dream. The sedan especially made me miss my own E30 325E that I drove as a daily and would drift on occasion.

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However, I’ve saved the two best classics for last, and they were both a first experience for me. The first was this Isetta 300. If you grew up during the ’90s here in the US, you’ll probably know it as the ‘Urkle’ car; it’s hard to mistake a car that has a door as its front end. This one has a bit of pedigree with Brecht Motorsports as it was their mascot car and dubbed the M1/2. It was rebuilt when it only had 23,000 miles on the odometer and had been sitting for a while when Bill Brecht bought it in the 1980s.

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It’s really impressive for such a small car; I never realized the truly diminutive size until I finally saw this one in person. It’s still a shock to see where BMW has come from since the Isetta 300, especially so when you set it beside a more modern M4.

The M1
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However, there was one car at Bimmerfest that stole the show for me, and it wasn’t one that had a wild body kit or killer paint scheme. It’s a car that defines the word ‘rare’ that no car built since will ever really capture, despite what Craigslist or forums will tell you. This is an original M1, and it was the first time I’d ever seen one in person.

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The story is that the owner bought this car at auction in 1984 in Oklahoma with only 24,000 on the odometer. Then in 1985, it was stored and hadn’t seen the light of day until it was brought out for Bimmerfest 2017. In a way, it’s sort of a sad fate. You can accuse the owner of neglect all you want, but this would be a car that would be hard to drive just for the rarity alone – there were only 453 produced by hand, 54 of which were race cars for the M1 Procar Championship. There were also only 71 road cars painted in 208 Red. To see one in person, this original, and not in a museum is a hard thing to say one has been able to do.

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If there is one thing that Bimmerfest did to me, it was reignite my love for the marque. When I got my first E30 chassis, I knew why people wanted it. Bimmerfest reminded me of why BMW ownership is amazing; it’s a great community when you get away from those who just want to be able to show how they throw cash around. When you get down to the core, the enthusiasts of BMW cars show you that becoming an owner is more than just buying a German car, you’ll be entering into a family of great people.

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What are some of your favorite BMW memories, motorsports or otherwise? Sound off and share your stories in the comments section. And don’t forget to check out the massive bonus image chapter below.

Words & Photos by Justin Banner
Instagram: jb27tt
Facebook: racerbanner
Twitter: RacerBanner

Cutting Room Floor
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30 comments

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1

What car is the gray cabrio on the Cutting room floor section?

2

It's a BMW ZGT.

3

Damn that looks rare... Is it a one-off?

Author4

Not really a one-off, but it's a kit created by Reaction Research, Inc. It's billed as a "no cut, no weld" conversion to mimic the design of the 507 with the Z3 as a donor. Though, I hate to be that guy, but I don't see it except in the rear end. Here is the 507 for reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_507

5

You can be "that guy" all you like, as I can't see it either and it just looks plain awkward. As an aside, I saw a red Z1 here in the UK the other week. Any of those knocking about at the Fest?

Author6

If there was one, I missed it somehow. Hard to miss a car with doors that slide down and only produced 8000 models for Germany, Italy, and France.

7
Glenn Amundsen

There was one earlier on Saturday. Here's a shot I grabbed of it.

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8

Hooray! Was wondering when one of those would crop up. They're just over the 25 limit by a couple of years so I'm kinda glad someone's done it.

Author9

Well, I'll be in the corner, crying if anyone needs me today.

10
Glenn Amundsen

Glad to be of service. I just about tripped over myself when I saw it. Only one I've seen outside of the BMW Zentrum Museum.

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11
Glenn Amundsen

It's in the background left side behind the 2002 BTW. I didn't notice it until I was taking this shot. Not sure what happened to my other photo of the Z1..

12

I was doing some drift action photography a few years ago, covering a drift event part of a European drift championship enterprise and having full access on track, I was standing on the inside of a left hand corner, taking some shots. It was durring the practice session so drivers would lap the track and with each new pass, drivers would try different lines, angles etc. After a while I've noticed that drivers liked me very much because they were using me as a clipping point or at least a point of reference. Particularly an e46 m3 powered by a 2jz to around 1000hp (running 800hp in that event), which kept coming closer and closer to me. As I was checking through the view finder and peeking over the camera, at one point I noticed that its trajectory was through me. But I had to make the most of it and take the shot, so I focused myself hard started taking shots as it approached me roaring and screaming leaving a smoke trail in its wake, and timmed myself just right when I took one more shot and then took a large step back to dodge the car and as soon as I did that the car was where I used to stand and that's when the driver lifted slightly off the throttle, getting ready for the transition for the next turn while his front left wheel was in the dirt and front right was on the edge of the track; immediately after lifting off the throttle, I was struck by the shockwave generated by the backfire shot of sound and heat coming from a small flame coming from the side exhaust which was in front of me at this point. I didn't stop clicking the shutter for a seccond and kept at it until the e46 was out of range. Soon after I've decided to change my position and stand a bit further from the corner apex. The sights, the sounds, the sensations and that wonderful 2jz powered e46 are forever implanted in my memory as one of the best memories I have!

13

"if you drive a BMW, you’ll know how strong the ‘family’ is"

of course, you'll meet fellow BMW owners while digging the local junkyards for parts :))

14

Great to see so many of my favourite builds and cars in one place. Really awesome.

15
topinsights_SS

Ironic that the first picture with "FASTKID" as the license plate is probably the slowest car in that lot.

16

"Zero compromise" stretched tyres, exposed rivets, boot lid can't stay open. I don't think so buddy :P

17
Logan Hardwick

Wait. Rusty was there and nothing was said about this in the article. #confused

Author18

As much as I love Rusty Slammington, it's been covered so much I didn't feel like I could add anymore to the conversation. That's why I didn't mention it but kept the photos I took of it. Mike Burroughs and Byron Wilcox created an amazing rat rod with details that are amazing but have been pointed out to death since it's revival from when it burned to the ground.

19

That's because the world was over Crusty Lamington 3 years ago. (bring on the hate l
Lamington lovers)

20

Because #oldnews. The real questions are:
1. Why the "do not touch" sign. It's supposed to look like a POS, I say the more touching the better.
2. It has the race car look, but where is the racing? #trailerqueen?

Author21

Also, to drittfiske, not everyone likes their cars being touched, rat rod or not. Though, I would like to eventually see how it would do on track, though it may need to be raised up a bit.

22

Wow... there is some BMW Hate sauce being talked in these comments! It looks like the BMW Haters Group is just as committed as the BMW owners are?!? I personally think each of these cars (well, maybe not the Isetta) are beautiful and want to thank Justin, as well as the staff of Speedhunters for bring them to us.

Author23

That Brecht Motorsports Isetta is really awesome, despite it's Urkle relationship to the rest of the US. I kind of want to do a feature on it...

24
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Looked like a great event. Gotta check this out one of these days!

Author25

Makes me want an E30 again. I had an early, steel bumper 325e and 325i. I learned to drift in the e, ironically. I took the bumpers off the e, too, and it had a slight bumperless 2002 look that I liked. I've started hunting for a cheap one but I'll probably never find one for the price I paid when I lived back on the East Coast like my e was. It was $500, VA legal to drive save for a brake master cylinder I had to replace. Man, they were some fun cars to drive.

26

I bought a rough 325es a couple years ago and after A LOT of time, money, and work it's finally coming together. I absolutely love the car. I paid $2,000 for it then and although I overpaid I don't regret my decision one bit!

Author27

Yeah, wish I could find a cheap beater E30 again.

28

"Since it’s an air-to-water style cooler, these types of coatings shouldn’t affect performance" Not quite correct, sorry. It depends on the thermal conductivity of the coating material. If it exceeds that of the base material, then there will be no difference. If it is worse than the base material, then it will hinder heat transfer. Thermal conductivity of Al is 2.37, conductivity of polyester (material for most powdercoatings) is approx 0.009. In other words, the coating will act as an insulator, hindering conductivity. Having said all that, I don't know what they've used as the coating material, but it would seem their product might perform better if it was left uncoated.

Author29

Not sure where you're getting that number but it does coincide with the numbers I'm seeing. Aluminum, from the numbers I read is 237 W/mK. So, I'll use yours for simplicity's sake.

If it does act as a insulator, it's only 0.009 as you mention and making the combined conductivity of both materials 2.36, rounding down. That's still well within the range of 99.9999% pure aluminium, even if it was made worse than 0.009, with 2.13 still being a number we see at that purity The best aluminum alloy (92% aluminum, 8% magnesium) is 1.356 when annealed and still considered to not be an insulating material. Most heat exchangers that use aluminum are an alloy with one I know that is using a 3003 alloy (98.6% Aluminum, 1.2% Manganese, and 0.12% copper) which has a thermal conductivity of 1.62. I haven't asked what alloy CSF is using, but at the worst it would still be within the annealed 92% Al/8% Mn alloy at 1.34.

We also have to consider that the water (well coolant), is doing the major transfer of heat at a heat exchanger. No matter what, it's cooling better than a standard air-to-air intercooler, as most air-to-water coolers do if they are using a separate cooling system for the coolant of the air-to-water system. Most all do in both OEM and aftermarket applications. The part that makes an air-to-water intercooler unpopular is the packaging but that's another topic for another day.

30
Patrick Peebles

Great write-up and some awesome pictures. I love me some E30's.

As a BMW Master Tech, I've only ever seen two M1's... both of them red. Pictures never do them justice. Seeing one in person is like a celebrity sighting.

Also, it's Andy Hateley, you're missing an "e".

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