BABYBIMMER BIRTHDAYBASH

THE BMW 3 SERIES HAS REACHED MIDDLE-AGE, BUT THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF A MID-LIFE CRISIS AT RUSHCUTTERS BAY

WORDS & PHOTOS SAM MACLACHLAN

For most 40-year-olds, the opportunity to throw themselves a 40th birthday bash is tinged with sadness, desperation and a nod to the inevitability of the aging process. You are getting older, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

For a car such as BMW’s much-loved 3 Series, however, there’s no sign of an un-used gym membership, thinning hair and a mortgage that just never seems likely to go away. Instead, the 40th birthday bash, held at Rushcutters Bay (NSW), was alive with 3 Series models that ranged from well-worn to showroom-spec, as well as the brand spankers 2016 LCI 40th Anniversary edition.

The event, held jointly by the BMW Drivers and BMW Touring (motorcycle) clubs for the first time, was also the pre-cursor to numerous cars and bikes making the drive south to Melbourne as part of the Zundschlussel Run.

A representative of each generation of 3 Series was lined up for the Run, while around 120 BMWs helped send them off in style at the Show and Shine, with a healthy serve of Bavarian beauties a healthy serve of Bavarian beauties shining on the grass before the swaying masts of the Rushcutters Bay marina.

This was the first time Woollahra Council had opened the venue to a car show, it’s previous hostings limited to car parking for the kick-off of the Sydney to Hobart sailing race, but due to the show supporting the Variety Children’s Charity, the grass was festooned with not only some very special cars, but also some pretty special motorcycles.

“We were very pleased with the turnout,” said BMW Drivers Club President, Bob Williams. “It is the biggest show we have had and the venue is spectacular. To have one of each 3 Series model represented here is pretty special, and they weren’t the only cars that stood out!”

Case in point is the museum-fresh E9 “Batmobile”, a stunning example once housed in the museum in Germany and now living in Australia. Truly droolworthy.

One car destined for the Show and Shine had been a quirky three-wheeled Isetta of one of the club members, however the car developed a mind of its own that morning and simply refused to start, as cars do from time to time.

“It was also great to have the BMW Touring Club along. While I admit many of our club don’t know much about bikes, there were some really special ones there, including one of the first motorcycles BMW produced, the 1923 R32. It will be

The birthday bash was alive with 3 Series models that ranged from well-worn to showroom fresh

1973 BMW 2002

KEN ALCHIN’S 2002 has been his since 1988 and it’s far from standard. Keen observers of the model will know the spoilers, flares and sideskirts aren’t factory, but you’d never know standing next to it, thanks to a top bit of fibreglassing from Ken’s panel beater.

“The flares are from the 2002 Turbo, and you can still buy them, so I had them shipped over, painted and fitted. It originally had a black spoiler on the boot lid, so I had my panel beater mould it to the shape of the boot with fiberglass.

“He also custom made the skirts, the nose spoiler and other parts to blend it all in together.

It was originally Fjord Blue, but he added some pearl to make it a bit shinier.”

The overall effect is that the car is unmistakably a 2002, but has the subtle touches Ken wanted to set it apart and make it really his.

“The thing I like most about it is driving it. Everyone gives you the thumbs up. I used to own a Porsche 911, but everyone gave me that finger (holding up the middle digit), now they give me this one (the thumbs up)…” Ken says, laughing.

This 2002, with over 500,000 miles on it, is driven, not hidden. It was a daily driver, though now Ken is retired, it is reserved for special occasions.

“I’ll be buried in it,” Ken promises.

1988 E30 M3 Evo

ONE OF the most desirable of all the 3 Series family is the E30 M3 Evo. Ron Laura’s example is even more enticing due to the left-hand drive car boasting some very small numbers on the odometer. This M3 doesn’t just look new, it smells it!

“This model is becoming so desirable, because it is just one of the best of the M3s, even now. It drives so beautifully and there are so few left of this model, that the market for them has skyrocketed.

“This car has less than 23,000kms on the clock and, as you can see, it is like new inside and out. You can always tell the age and condition of a car by the original rooflining and this one is perfect.”

Only 505 were built, with some ending their lives on the racetrack and there were no Australian-delivered examples.

All this adds up to a car that is close to the top of the tree when it comes to desirable 3 Series BMWs and, while this car is part of a collection of BMWs, it is still a stand out. It is also for sale, as Ron heads back to the States to take up lecturing at Harvard – the Professor owns a fleet of 32 BMWs and Lancias!

part of the Show in Melbourne we are heading for on the Zundschlussel Run.

“Overall, we are really happy with how the event went and being part of the Run down the East Coast to Melbourne is great thing to be a part of.”

Melbourne ahoy!

An even dozen cars made it to the finish line of the inaugural Zundschlussel Run in Melbourne, having completed the route from Rushcutters Bay. The event was open to both BMW bikes and cars, the bikes taking a more direct route, covering 250-300km per day, while the cars took the scenic mountains and coastal route. It’s a well-timed event, with participants arriving in Melbourne for the Moto GP weekend at Phillip Island or, for a different take on horsepower, the BMW-sponsored Caulfield Cup races.

Each of the six generations of 3 Series were scheduled to make the drive to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of the model, but unfortunately we were down an E36 at the finale, the owner instead deciding to bring along his E39 5 Series. The E39 was also represented by the very tidy M5 of Edward Forgacs, a car which enjoyed a significant power and torque advantage over the rest of the field. Its 294kW still represents a healthy punch today, and even the newly-launched F30 generation 330i was still over 100kW shy of the old stager.

Star of the show might well have been Allan Day’s beautiful black E21 3 Series JPS. “It blew a fuel pump relay along the way, so we hotwired it and it seemed okay. It’s still hotwired”, he laughs.

Because this is an original 1980 German motorsport car, the part will need to be ordered in from Germany. It’s something quite special, with the engine having been lifted an inch and a half in factory to cope with the lowered suspension. It also runs on larger 15-inch alloys. “I’m the third owner, and I’ve had it 20 years,” he says. He’s not afraid to put it to good use though, racking up around 2100km on this run. “It’s not as clean as it could be under the bonnet because we had a diversion down near Mallacoota where the police had closed the road at a crime scene. That meant driving it through 18km of forest roads.”

In case you were wondering (and I was) what a Zundschlussel is, it’s apparently German for ignition key.

Each of the six generations of 3 Series was scheduled to make the drive

1985 E30 John Player Special

MATTHEW DIMOS has a special reason for owning his 1985 E30 John Player Special – his parents owned one when he was a kid! Now he has his own.

“It’s hard to know exactly how many were sold through the dealer network, but BMW suggests it’s less than 15, so it is a reasonably rare car. There are numerous replicas out there, but this one is genuine.

“From factory, the JPS Specials came with the BBS wheels, Recaro seats, limited-slip diff, black paint with the gold accents, JPS steering wheel and badges, different spoilers, etc.

“This car is almost completely original, including the cassette deck. My favourite part of the car is the tape holders – nothing says 1985 like a tape holder!

“The only thing I have done is update the suspension to allow it to handle better. It took me ten years to find this car – my parents had one new, which was unfortunately stolen and consequently written off. It is so difficult to find a genuine car, especially in this condition.

“I bought it from a BMW collector in Ballina (QLD) – I flew up there (from Sydney) and drove it back. It hadn’t been driven in ten years and yet made it, no problems.

Typical BMW…”