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Thread: The Z8 Owner?s Club Inaugural Weekend in Munich.

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    The Z8 Owner?s Club Inaugural Weekend in Munich.

    (NB: this is a re-post because I just realized the original has mysteriously vanished!)

    It was the Z07 concept car that BMW showed at the 1997 Tokyo Car Show that started it all. It was love at first sight! I knew immediately that this was the machine for me, it was everything I wanted; an open top two seater with classic lines, BMW reliability, and the promise of awesome performance.

    I followed it?s development with an eagle?s eye through spy shots, press releases, and James Bond?s silliness. I finally bought mine after it had been out for a year, as a good Scot I just don?t believe in paying those exorbitant mark up?s to be first in line. When I did eventually find myself one at a price I was happy with, it was everything I hoped it would be and more as a car, but after my first few drives I started to feel very lonely! xxxxx

    I didn?t know, nor could I find any other owners, or even anyone else who felt like I did about the car. I tried to find a Z8 website to chat with other owners, but try as I might, I couldn?t. After two months of feeling very alone with my car I decided to start one on my own site, and that is how <> came into being.

    I first heard about the Z8 Club when I got an email in broken English asking if I could use some of the pictures from my website for a new owner?s club website in Germany. Of course I said yes, delighted that someone somewhere was trying to do something to bring us owners together. At that time I had no idea where this one random email would lead, but knowing the magic that the internet has woven around my passion for Z8, I guess I should have been prepared!

    Here in the US we?ve had several Z8 meets through website, with anything from two to seven cars turning up, so when a second email arrived asking if I?d like to come to Munich for the inaugural weekend of the Z8 Club, and that there would be as many as sixty cars present I knew I just had to go!

    Scroll forward a couple of months, and I?m jumping into a cab at Munich Airport, wondering for the first time if I?m crazy! All I know is I have to get to the Hotel Kempinski, and from there everything will unfold. Much to my delight the cab driver speaks perfect English, and he tells me that it?s the best hotel in town. I breathe a deep sigh of relief, and start feeling a little easier about my mad weekend dash from LA.

    Moments after settling into my room I get a phone call from a girl called Sylvi. It turns out she is the wife of J?rgen Wunderlich, who is also a founder of the Club. She invites me downstairs to drinks in the bar, and introduces me to J?rgen. Sylvi had grown up in Canada, and speaks perfect English, so she took me under her wing, and told me the Club?s tale.

    The dream to form the Z8 Club was born in 2003, when Olaf Hetze bought his Stratus and Crema Z8. Olaf isn?t just a casual enthusiast; he lives and breathes cars in his job as a Special Project Manager at BMW?s M Division in Munich. He also wanted to find other enthusiasts to enjoy his passion with, but in Germany there was no Z8 website or club, so he decided to start one.

    To track down possible members he started scouring the net, seeing who was buying Z8 stuff on Ebay, or mentioned the Z8 in any BMW forums. After a few months he found J?rgen and Reiner L?slein, very active members of the Z1 Club, as well as being Z8 owners. Together the three contacted all the possible members they could find online or through friends, to see what kind of interest there?d be in coming to Munich for an inaugural Z8 owners Club meeting. Since I was standing in a room full of over a hundred happy Z8 partiers safe to say the interest was positive!

    Forming a club in Germany isn?t something done lightly, especially one that is officially sanctioned by BMW. A club has to be formed as a legal entity, complete with court papers, President, Secretary, Treasurer and two other Officers, in the same way that we form a corporation here in the states. The books must also be audited every year to maintain its legal status, so it?s a huge responsibility and commitment of the part of the founding fathers.

    Happily for the rest of us this means there?s a Z8 Club run by enthusiasts who work within the company that made our car, with incredible access to everything that we could ever need, or need to know, and a wonderful welcome waiting in Europe.

    The evening was a hoot, I met many owners, including Carsten, who was volunteered to be my ride for the weekend. After hours of laughter, Z8 stories and a much delicious Bavarian beer, I headed to bed to prepare for the unfolding of the weekend!

    9.00 am, and the cars gather at our first rendezvous at BMW?s M Division. We are to tour the hallowed halls where everything from the F1 motors to our motors are created. This is no ordinary event, like a tour of the Spartanburg plant in SC, getting into the M Division is about as easy as getting to the gold bars in Fort Knox, and then being greeted by the President!

    Prof. Ulrich Bruhnke, the President of M Division, did greet us, and he spent his day off sharing his passion and excitement with us. His pride and belief in his team is both wonderful and infectious, as are his ideas about what they could build given the chance. Like the rest of us, he too dreams of a new BMW supercar, and even has a nickname for it, ?The Enzorillo?, the Enzo Crusher!

    After meeting the president we were all dispatched into the countryside in new M5?s and M6?s, and after a 20 odd mile loop came back to meet three of the key men involved in creating our cars. Herbert Hoeltsche, who was Head of Assembly, Wolfgang Kreinh?fner who was Head of engine development for the S62, and Franz-Armin Gollob who was the Z8 Project Leader. It was wonderful to hear the pride they each had in being picked to be on the Z8 team. The Z8 was a personal triumph for every man involved in it?s build, and being on the team meant that you were being honored as one of the best in the company.

    Next we were served a delicious lunch in M Division?s own restaurant, after which we set off across town to the main offices. Here all seventy cars were arranged for an official portrait, and for me it was quite a surreal moment seeing so many Z8?s all in one place at one moment. After this we headed to the Mobile Tradition Building for the official forming of the club ceremony, followed by a private tour of the incredible Mobile Tradition Collection. It was just breathtaking seeing all those incredible cars up close and personal, I didn?t want to leave, and by the time they eventually shooed me out the door it was almost dinnertime!

    At around 8pm we all reassembled in the ballroom at the Hotel Kaminski for an incredibly glamorous black tie sit down dinner that was an unforgettable Bavarian feast! There we were joined by many key figures from BMW, including several members of the team who built the Z8. The party alone was worth the trip!

    On Sunday all 70 Z8's, accompanied by two immaculate 507?s, drove to the Austrian Alps for a final farewell lunch. Leaving Munich we headed south through the chic Tegernsee area to our first rest stop. After a brief photo break we followed the River Isar south towards the Austrian Alps, but sadly the weather turned, and the skies opened as we got to the foothills.

    The next leg of the journey was just spectacular, we drove along the roaring River Loisach, which led us up a steep sided Alpine valley to our final destination, the Freihaus Brenner. This is a traditional Bavarian mountain lodge set on a lovely knoll with a panoramic view across the lakes and mountains, and made perfect place for the farewell lunch.

    From here the cars all went their separate ways, many to Austria and Switzerland, and others all across southern Germany, one was even taking the sleeper train to the very north. I felt rather sad to seeing everyone wander off; it was a party I just didn?t want to end. I wished we were all headed south, to Tuscany, then up to Monaco, Cannes, St Tropez then back to Munich all the way along the backbone of the Alps. One day!

    After lunch I headed back into Munich with Carsten, who had been my ?pilot? all weekend, and a couple of other cars. As we left the restaurant the clouds opened, and a crystal blue sky graced our drive back into Munich. The recently rained on fields sparkled at us in spectacular style as we flew across the open countryside, and Munich looked like a fairy tale town bathed in the golden glow of the evening?s sun.

    That evening I had one final treat in store, Franz-Armin Gollob and his wife showed me around the town, Munich is such a stunning city, and I can?t wait to return!

    (story as published in Roundel - and there is also a full photo essay over in the Gallery here)
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  2. #2
    Z8 Madness 2112's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    I remember when I went absolutely Ga-Ga over the Z07 in 97' or was it 98'?

    I still think it is spectacular, but I am a firm believer the final production product is even more beautiful. Usually the concept is never equaled, let alone surpassed.


    BTW, thank you for this post and this site Andrew.
    2000 Red over black
    heavily modified for performance. Although, not to the level of GM's car

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