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Thread: Z8 Driving Experience

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Z8 Driving Experience

    The "Z8 Driving Experience" was a a wonderful ?thank you? given by BMW NA to us, their approximately 2,500 Z8 and Alpina owners.

    It was essentially a two day car control clinic held at BMW's Performance Center at Spartanburg, South Carolina, which allowed us to find the car?s limits, and feel the nature of the it?s behavior at those limits, in a very controlled and safe environment.

    Ben Burrell managed the Z8DE, as well as many of the other BMW driving courses. Ben was a life long road racer, with a huge amount of experience as a driver and instructor, and was a master at making the DE easy, enjoyable, and very confidence inspiring experience for us all.

    From the moment we stepped off the plane we were wined, dined, and generally made to feel like kings all at BMW's expense. Along with the drive time and constant entertainment BMW showed us their 2.5 million sq ft assembly plant in town which is really awesome to see in full swing.

    The Z8DE was a huge value add for any original owner, and really made the Z8 all the more special and unique because of it. BMW finished running the DE in the early spring of '05 when many of the cars they were using had to be decommissioned due to EPA preproduction prototype rules. The serial numbers of the cars we drove there were all in the first batch of 30 made, cars # 60008-60031. (nb: I didn't get the VIN of the Stratus car that arrived on the second day).

    A big thanks to Ben, Bill, Christy, and BMW NA for making such an extraordinary effort to make us feel so special.

    Full photo essay here and below are some happy snaps of the two very memorable days.
     
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  2. #2
    Z8 Novice Klint's Avatar
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    Great Pictures, Andrew!

    I like the red z8 with cream interior, what a great colour combination for such a vehicle...

    Thanks for sharing them with us.
    Clint

  3. #3
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Ya, Andrew, love the pics! Did Ben mention "the earing story" ? Did you find it for me? (There's a reward : ) Thanks for the write-up. What car were you in? is it in any pics?

  4. #4

    Wink Yes, we all started to look, for about 10 secs....

    So it was you guys who lost it! He told us they've had everyone for months scouring the place, but it remains a mystery!

    Christian and I shared a silver/red and a black/creama car on day one, then the stratus/crema day 2. That's Christian doing the donut, which wasn't an officially sanctioned move, but Ben was very understanding that we needed some unique images for the site!
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  5. #5

    Thumbs down A final note on the DE cars.

    During the event we all asked what would happen to the cars, as no doubt all of us thought there may be a bargain beater to be had after their tour of duty was up. Everyone who attended the DE over it's 3 year run was told the same tale; the cars were all to be broken up or returned to Germany because of an 'EPA rule demanding the destruction and/or deportation of prototypes'.

    Well, many of the DE have since appeared and been sold without full disclosure on EBay, mostly by dealers in the south east. It's my guess that they went to auction with all of the rest of BMW NA's used fleet, and were snapped up within the trade.

    Personally I think it a little shady to sell these cars on without some kind of recognition of the beating they were subjected to at the DE, but maybe I'm just being oversensitive.
    Speaking for myself, I know I'd be greatly displeased to come across this information here some months after buying what I thought was a gently pampered and loved car!
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  6. #6

    I read today that Ben Burrell had passed away.

    I don't know any details, but it is certainly a great loss to all you knew him. Ben was a wonderful instructor, and an incredible host. He made the weekend we spent in Spartenberg an incredibly memorable one, and I know all of us who knew him briefly through the Performance Center will wish his family all our sympathy.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  7. #7
    Team Z8 KenZ8's Avatar
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    Ben was a true gentleman, a talented driver, and a fabulous instructor. I can often hear his voice urging patience on the tight turns when I compete in autocross events, and am deeply saddened at his passing.

  8. #8

    Does anyone have any other pictures or memories of the DE to share?

    Like an endless precession of ghosts the Z8 DE cars keep coming up for sale on EBay, Autotrader etc. This nice part is that it keeps the memory of that wonderful event alive, so if you have any pictures or memories from the DE please share them with us.

    I dug back into my old files, and threw together these other pictures of the Z8's in action at the Performance Center that didn't make the original edit.
     
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  9. #9
    Sport Button On - DSC Off gutMD's Avatar
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    Andrew,
    Thanks once again for more great photos.

    Looking at the photos I noticed that the DE cars were fitted with the old Michelin Pilot Sport tires and not the Bridgestone run flats which led to the doming problems.

    Any insight as to why this may have been? Were the run flats not available yet at this early point?

    Even though these cars were driven hard it would be interesting to know if strut tower problems are less of an issue which would be further proof of the causative role of the Bridgestones.
    ---------------------------------
    Regards,
    Gary
    2002 Topaz // Crema

  10. #10
    This was obviously some time before we knew of the doming issues, it was simply a case of the Michelin's being a much better all round tire, the guys the Performance Center had a very low opinion of the runflats because they didn't work as well as a performance tire, wet or dry. There was also little chance of the car hitting a pothole, curb or any other nasty obstacle at the PC, obviously it is very 'car safe' even if a car was to head off the tarmac. However the very early Topaz/Black Z8 at the Zentrum by the PC does have very badly domed strut towers, so it is something that should have been apparent. Oddly enough the doming did turn up on some of the pre-pro cars that were tested on the N?rbergring, but the engineers just blamed the drivers, and left it at that!
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  11. #11
    Here is another look at the DE thru Z8Doc's eyes, he went about one year into ownership, and had stunning weather for both his days there as you can see!
     
    Andrew Macpherson

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