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Thread: Andrew's non Z8 Roundel Articles

  1. #1

    Andrew's non Z8 Roundel Articles

    Andrew, I enjoyed your two write-ups in Roundel magazine this month.
    What a trip.
    It was nice that you could praise the M6 without having to flatter the body design.

  2. #2
    Sport Button On - DSC Off FWK-Z8's Avatar
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    I'll throw the issue in the trunk for Saturday & try and remember the hard bound Z8 booklets I received from Dr. Goeschel.

  3. #3
    The October issue is even better - I was especially pleased with both the pictures and the words - hope you guys will like it!
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  4. #4
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    I like the way that you were careful to avoid discussing your opinion of the design. As I commented on the trip, the design doesn't do much for me either, but I do admit that the Sepang Brown of your car really impressed me. I would have never considered such a color, but it was really beautiful in the warm light.

    Good work Andrew. One of the nice things about doing the past two Z8 Club trips is knowing that I'll have your Roundel article as a keepsake. Oh, Signore Pepe Nero is relieved that you did not mention his flight from Italy.
    Last edited by thegunguy; August 17th 2007 at 15:48.

  5. #5

    Here is the body of text from the story.


    I have to start out this story with a mea-culpa, I've never been a fan of the styling of the new 6 Series, and to my eyes the rag-top version just made Betty uglier. When I was told that I'd be able to borrow the M Division's soft top version of the 6 to join the Z8 Club's pilgrimage from Munich across the Alps to Brescia in northern Italy to watch the start of the Mille Miglia, I wasn't especially thrilled.

    The Z8 Mille Miglia adventure started M Division's HQ on the outskirts of the city where the Z8 Club were being given an early morning presentation on the new M3. The M3 looks jolly nice, but we weren't allowed to take pictures, much less take it out for a spin, so that is a story for another time.

    After the presentation I was shown to my car, along with the three other members from the Z8 Club who were kindly being lent M6's for the event. We were explained the many features that make the 6 an M, which include a lot of carbon fiber parts in the bumpers and overhangs to help centralize the weight, the M motor, transmission, suspension and lots of pretty trim parts. After being brought up to speed on all the M-goodness we are each sat in our cars and shown the much discussed iDrive, the only part of the car as controversial as its styling. It is much easier than I was expecting, but it is also less instinctive than I'd like. However the navigation is better than anything I've experienced in any car. Using the central knob to zoom to zoom in and out of the map is instant, and allows you to always know your exact position from 100 meters to 100 miles an inch. When you are commencing a two thousand mile drive that takes in a lot of Alpine back roads the nav system was the first thing that won my heart.

    Leaving M-HQ we head onto the crowded autobahns that ring Munich, and on south towards Innsbruck. Here the M6 really wove its spell on me with the M Division's mighty V10. I know this isn't new news, and much has been written about its prowess in the M5, but this was my first proper open road drive with one of these incredible engines. The car pulls smoothly and cleanly up to about 5,000 rpm, picking up urgency like a jet on take off, but as the needle swings past 5,000rpm it turns into a jet fighter on afterburner! The power of this engine is just amazing, a linear thrust that takes you right up to 160mph, and I'm sure it would do more, I just never found a clear enough bit of road to try. Ahhh the joys of autobahnstorming!

    Once we crossed the Italian border we peeled off the big roads and headed high up into the Alps on twisty scenic byways, giving me the chance to really play with the SMG-3. It is a quantum leap ahead of the SMG-2 in my old e46 M3, but like the SMG-2 this one also works best on the fastest shift setting, where it absolutely seamless. The acoustic delight of downshifting in Alpine tunnels makes you feel like you're in a Grand Prix, not a grand tourer, as the SMG perfectly matches the revs with a divine staccato bark from the V10. Another neat fighter jet like feature of the M6 is that both the gear and revs are both shown in a heads up glow low in the windscreen, so you know exactly where the force is at without taking your eyes off the road.

    The M6's athletic handling is brought into sharp focus by the mountain roads, and the way its two tons simply evaporates at speed is an absolute revelation. It corners and brakes so well that you really can drive it like a sportscar. Infact it works best when driven with gusto, turn in is very precise, and the steering always feels like it's glued to the line you intended to carve. The M6 is utterly unflappable even when squealing the tires on the endless switchback hairpins that wind up to the snow capped Alpine passes. The car is so well balanced and sure footed that the DSC never interrupted the flow once as I tried to get a little rotation using that wall of power in endless stream of second gear hairpins. The M6 just begs to be driven hard and fast, and it responds like a delighted race horse when it is. I always love to find a car's sweet spot, that range where it works best, where all the parts come together to make a complete, unified and harmonious whole. The M6's sweet spot is searingly fast while being delightfully unfurious, this is most certainly a driver's car. It's spell grows ever stronger.

    I was also awestruck by the car's night time ability. The headlamps turn with the wheels, and the zoomed in mapping on the nav screen shows you exactly how sharp the next corner is, making this one of the safest and best thought out cars to drive on the darkest of mountain roads. The heads up SMG and tach indicator also dims so as not to interfere with your night vision, while continuing to let you know exactly what the motor is doing.

    Behind the wheel I kept likening this car to a Gulfstream G550 jet, not just because of the wall of power but the fabulous cabin which is so reminiscent of the quality and feel of a luxury jet. It is one of the most comfortable and well designed interiors I have had the pleasure of riding in. You can have all the windows rolled down, and with hot air and hot seats on full blast, and the freezing freshness of the Alpine air on the snow covered high passes doesn't chill you at all. The chairs are just fabulous, so good infact that I didn't notice them once in a five day non stop drive! The last day we were in the car for over twelve hours, mostly Alpine on twisty back roads followed by a final sunset autobahn blast across the farmlands of Bavaria back to Munich, and both the Mrs and I never had even a moment of discomfort. On the autobahn at a constant 140-160 mph we found it more comfy to have all five windows rolled up, and our hats remained planted on our heads. There was very little turbulence in the cabin, though there is a certain amount of wind noise at those speeds, though that isn't of much importance to us here in America where a long stint at that speed will land you in jail. The rear seats are for really only for age nine and under if there are full sized adults up front. The kids in the back will be very comfy for a run to town, but I wouldn't want to try them out on a long journey. This car is really a very spacious all purpose two seater, but only a very occasional four seater.

    There is a deep trunk that swallowed our bags, though careful measuring of your luggage before hand is key to coming to play with cases that will fit in the deep but shallow space below the opened soft top. If you were buying this car I'd suggest take it to a luggage shop and try out some different cases to ensure you get the perfect fit.

    There are a couple of things that do bear mentioning on the downside. When you put the transmission into D and cruise the M6 just doesn't seem that happy. The auto-box short shifts clumsily below either the torque or power bands, making the car feel numb and dumb. The car is always happier if you use the paddles, even if you're driving slowly, as I found driving it around the little Alpine villages, and when we used the M6 as a camera car for shooting a train of Z8's crossing one of the high passes.

    The one serious complaint I have is the 'Power' button. You drive for a couple of hours with it on, and get used to how the car can overtake in very short spaces, then stop to fill up with gas, and have a coffee. When you jump back in the car you won't realize you haven't pressed it until you're lagging by a 100hp in the middle of your next overtaking maneuver! It is stupid to the point of perilous having a button than can have such a negative effect on the car's performance should you forget to press it, the car should simply have all it's power available all the time.

    Those two small things aside I was totally seduced by the M6's build quality, its power, handling and sheer ability as a car. It gave me one of the most wonderful and memorable drives of my life, and cast its spell very well. I can honestly say that it is the best GT I've ever driven, and I have both a Z8 and an SL500 in my garage. If you are considering getting one, do it, and to do the European Delivery Program. This is a truly incredible machine, but it really needs to be experienced on the roads where it can spread its wings and fly. Head to Europe and let it cast its spell over you from the best seat in the house as you enjoy the glorious vistas the joyous roads of the Alps.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  6. #6
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Roundel's print has always been bad. I don't think they send anyone to the press to check the output (compare the color of the scene with the M6 parked on the grass - purple?). It's almost like they purposely apply blur and use some weird color space. Forget any shadow details...

    Oh well, it's still a good mag for BMW fans, even if the photos are muddy.

    One of these days, you'll figure out how to take a good photo...
    Last edited by thegunguy; August 17th 2007 at 15:50.

  7. #7
    Sport Button On - DSC Off FWK-Z8's Avatar
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    I only wish they'd given you a Coupe, preferrably Indianapolis red.

  8. #8
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    There was a GORGEOUS M6 coupe at the M Division where we picked up our cars. It was an Individual (BMW NA please bring to the US!) in Ruby Black with Rust Brown leather and Walnut Amarone.

    It is the BEST combo I've seen on the 6. So RICH!

    Well.......we're waiting. When do you go to SC?

  9. #9
    DSC Off Gammaman's Avatar
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    Fabulous pictures Andrew, they do pop off the screen! I enjoyed the article as well. Makes me lust to do another Euro delivery!

  10. #10
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    Talking Oh Odin and Sleipnir!

    Andrew, I was reading this Oktober's issue of Roundel and enjoying the article very much as it was a stark contrast in tone from BMW CCA writer's typical chastising of the Z8. I thought to myself, "great article" on this beast of a Z8 (grease monkey's) and then I noticed the author -- YOU!

    Great article and I bet is was amazing to drive that beast of a car!

    What suspension tweaks does he plan for the future?
    Best Regards,

    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  11. #11
    Thanks, I'm happy to hear you liked it!

    I know that GM & Steve Dinan are planning another round of upgrades, which I mentioned in the story, but I'm not sure they know exactly what they'll be until its time to set it in metal, so to speak.

    Since the story it is out I'll post it here for everyone who isn't yet in the BMW CCA. My favorite six of the car in action in the Gallery.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  12. #12
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    Nice article/pix in Roundel on GM's car!

    so what is the HP that engine is making? Any dyno numbers?

  13. #13
    And here is another one - thanks to the Satch for yet another cover!

    With this Ring...A Tale of Two Alpina's

    Like every gas and oil blooded enthusiast I've always dreamt of going to the N?rburgring, so when Judy Ray of Driving Concepts invited me to join her on a pilgrimage to motoring's Mount Everest I jumped at the chance.

    Five months later, I'm settling into a brisk pace from Frankfurt airport to the 'Ring in a little diesel powered Garmin guided Golf. To keep me company on the ninety minute drive I flipped on the radio, and much to my surprise an American voice was chatting away. I listened a moment, and discovered it was Radio Eagle, the US Armed Forces station. They were talking about an upcoming 'Family Preparedness' meeting for a division called Old Ironsides, who were to ship out to Iraq the following week. These men and women face the very real risk of loosing their lives in the next few months in our service, and this is how their loved ones are 'prepared' for whatever may come. I find myself humbled by their bravery and their selflessness. That humility set the tone of my trip.

    The N?rburgring is said to claim over fifty souls a year, but unlike heroes going to war, none of these souls, or their loved ones, are prepared for it. This may be the holy grail of all race tracks, but it is also the one that you're most likely to meet your maker on.

    It took me just one lap in the passenger seat to understand why Jackie Stewart fought so hard to get the 'Ring removed from the Grand Prix calendar. It is a place that forgives nothing, no matter how brave you are. Any mistake can only have very serious consequences here, and even worse for those on two wheels. During the time I spent behind the Armco barriers to get the pictures you see here, I was walking on a colorful plastic gravel of broken car and motorcycle parts, each step a reminder of the constant toll this thirteen plus mile tarmac ribbon takes on the unlucky and the unwary.

    I have no shame in admitting to you that this rain soaked Armco alley was a bigger mountain than I was ready to climb. I was humbled by finally finding a road I didn't want to drive fast on, and I gained an enormous respect for my fellow BMW CCA & DE members who were brave enough to attack this place at full tilt though the rain and fog that swirled around us for the three day BMW club event. Talking of full tilt it's time to introduce two extraordinary drivers and two very unexpected 'Ring chariots. Robert Fassl in the Alpina B7 and Judy Ray in the Alpina D3.

    Robert has done around eight thousand laps of the 'Ring without incident in his long career as one of BMW M Division's test drivers. Judy, who is no stranger to our SoCal members, is a wonderful driver who has devoted much of her spare time to running Driving Concepts, a fantastic organization that does everything from putting first time teenage drivers on the right path to getting race ready enthusiasts up to SCCA speed. This year she turned the big six-oh, and to celebrate she came back to the 'Ring for the fourth time. She left with not one, but two of the beautiful blue 'Routineer' prizes for being amongst the best of the best.

    The cars in this tale of rain soaked skill and bravery are both from the house of Alpina. They are as extraordinary as they are different, Robert drove the elegant B7, and Judy athletic D3.

    The B7 is Alpina's luxury flagship, with a 4.4 supercharged V8 and a ZF automatic box that can be used manually via steering wheel mounted shift buttons . The car's most extraordinary feature is it's wall of torque, reaching 700nm at just 4,250 rpm, which seamlessly leads into 500hp at just 5,500rpm. This propels the large sedan with the urgency and vigor of a sportscar, and also allows the B7 to be drifted with the ease of a runaway rice rocket from The Fast and the Furious, as you can see on the cover.

    When I first jumped into Robert's car to shoot some moving shots of Judy, he deftly slid the car left and right through Adenauer Forst, the tightest set of right, left, right corners on 'Ring, at full speed in the pouring rain. The B7 slip-slided with a composure and stability that belies reason for a car of its size and weight. It's pendulum progress was so smooth that I wouldn't have split a drop of my coffee, had I had any. Robert then repeated the maneuver a dozen times for my camera, on exactly the same spot. Talk about being humbled by precision driving!

    This big sedan will take anything you throw at it, while keeping you both safe and unruffled in complete luxury, but that's enough from the right seat and behind the Armco, lets talk to the drivers.

    AM: ?Robert, when did you first drive the N?rburgring??

    RF: ?I first drove the N?rburgring Nordschleife in April 1986. It was an endurance test for the E30 325 ix. I thought I would never be able to master this almost fourteen mile track with all its challenges. It is so demanding with around 175 curves, so many blind corners, dips and bumps and fast stretches.

    It is nicknamed the 'Gr?ne H?lle', for some people it must be like 'Hell' (H?lle), but for me it's the ultimate challenge. There is not another racetrack known to me, that demands such precise driving skills, with no allowances for errors! I would class this track as 'The Ultimate Driving Experience'!?

    AM: ?How long have you been driving for BMW?

    RF: ?I started with BMW in October 1985.?

    AM: ?Your fellow test drivers nicknamed you 'The Rain God', can you tell us why you love the 'Ring in the wet so much??

    RF: ?The Ring is even more demanding and a challenge in the rain. Rain in the Eifel Mountains, the 'Ring home, is a pretty normal, so experience with it is inevitable. I'm not sure whether one can say it is perfection, but whatever the conditions, whether rain or shine, one must adjust and forever be aware of the grip, and slip threshold for absolute preciseness. When the track is slippery there are far more vaiables from damp to soaked. The track becomes a dancing partner, and in the wet you have to be even more sensitive to it's every whim. You must make it your friend and not foe. I respect this track, and I love this track!?

    AM: ?Can you describe to us the difference between the regular 7 series sedans and the B7 at the 'Ring??

    RF: ?The main difference is the enormous amount of torque - 700 Nm (560 lbs/ft) and 500 horsepower, which gives you warp speed acceleration from curve to curve. It always makes me smile seeing GT3 drivers gasp when they see the BMW emblem in their rear mirror appear from nowhere!?

    AM: ?What makes the B7 such a special car for you??

    RF: ?The B7 is an athlete in tuxedo. Alpina's subtle body panel changes and unique rims create sleek and elegant exterior, while on the inside it's tuned to perfection. One can certainly enjoy the sensational feeling of cruising along at 300 kph on the Autobahn, but it is really its ability as a sports-sedan that sets it apart. It's always a pleasure and a privilege to drive the B7 on the public roads, but it's even more of a joy at the Ring.?

    Thank you Robert, and thanks too for showing me the 'Ring at a pace I would never ever have the courage to do myself. As always the experts make it look so easy, and again I found myself humbled by a level of ability that I'd never even imagined.

    The D3 is another car whose diving nature is defined by it's torque, but the heartbeat of this very athletic and well poised 3 series is a supercharged 4 pot diesel. I did do a few laps in this one myself and was intrigued by the motor's very wiling nature. The redline comes at just 4,500 rpm, but surprisingly below 2,000rpm there isn't much umph, so you still have to keep it on the boil, but at those revs it is more of a purposeful simmer. When it is in it's powerband it is an absolute hoot, and gave me a glimpse into the storming Le Mans success of Audi's R10.

    AM: ?Judy, firstly congratulations on both your trophies! As my original BMW CCA instructor responsible for getting me out on track almost seven years ago, I was delighted to see you do so well . This was your fourth trip to the 'Ring, how different was it going diesel??

    JR: ?Sharing my love for motor sports has been my passion for almost 25 years, and seeing friends and students develop a similar passion is the best reward for an instructor. As to the 'Ring, each trip there is always different and always a challenge. I think that?s why we keep coming back, it creates a hunger that is difficult to satisfy on any other track.

    Going diesel with today?s technologies is not a performance compromise, I think it?s smart. The old concept of a diesel car simply don't apply today. The D3's performance is really strong, and the great news is that even with two drivers in the car most of the time, we weren?t sitting in the fuel line during our lunch hour like our gasoline fueled friends.?

    AM: ?You have owned several M3's over the years, tell us what makes the Alpina D3 such a special car??

    JR: ?As my students and fellow instructors know, I'm a driver of ?touch? not ?technology?. Each car has it?s own personality, some are wimpy, some are neutral, and some are strong-willed and opinionated. I like to find a car's nature, and then drive it accordingly. The Alpina D3, is one of those cars that wraps its arms around you and says, 'Let?s Go'!

    Besides the beautiful Alpina Blue color, the first thing I noticed was the amazing suspension ? responsive, firm but comfortable. As soon as you get into the car the fit and finish really impresses you with it's quality. The four cylinder supercharged engine has 197 horsepower and 305 ft.lbs of torque. The power band is between 2000-4000 rpm and red line was 4500 rpm, so on the track it did needed a fair bit of shifting to keep it in the powerband, but the low revs and massive torque keep it feeling like a gentle dance, not a frantic foxtrot.

    It did exactly what I asked it to do, the way I wanted it to do it, and never argued or talked back about it. It loved following in the B7's tracks and it did a heck of a good job at keeping up!?

    AM: ?You visited Alpina's home base to pick up the car, what were your impressions of this unique family business??

    JR: ?The entire experience was like a fairy tale, and I want to thank Andy Bovensiepen, Kris Odwarka and Conny Menzel of Alpina for their kindness and hospitality. Kris led several of us on a tour of the facility where we learned more about this fascinating family business, and their passion for motor sports. I met Andy several years ago when he was one the instructors at the ?Ring?, but didn?t realize his relationship to Alpina until the Auto Show in LA when the Alpina Z8 was introduced. Like all his family, he quietly goes about the business of engineering, building and driving some of the finest cars in the world without making a big fuss about himself.

    Alpina is the epitome of the personal touch to performance. Each engine is hand-built by one technician ? that?s where pride, responsibility and performance come together. The finishing touches personalize each ordered European Alpina with a wide range of colors, leathers, and trims. BMW and Alpina have found a wonderful relationship and the driver is certainly the beneficiary of their bond.?

    AM: ?When you aren't teaching, or tracking your day job is selling BMW's at Crevier in SoCal. How easy would it be for you to sell the Alpina brand, especially the diesel ones, in the US market??

    JR: ?Yes, I still have to make a living as I still can't persuade my cat to get a job! When I first meet a customer at Crevier BMW, I give them my card and say 'This is how I make a living.' then I give them my Driving Concepts card and say, 'This is how I have fun?. It has been a wonderful mix for all concerned and I'm happy to be with a dealership that understands the passion behind these great cars.

    When the Alpina Z8 came into the dealership several years ago, I was the first to dismiss it since it didn?t have a manual transmission. Then one evening following a ?show and tell? in south Orange County, I had the privilege of driving the Alpina Roadster back to the dealership through some hills, valleys and freeways. As I backed it onto the showroom floor, my Manager (Klaus) noticed a tear trickling down my cheek. What an amazing car! I sold quite a few of them as you can imagine!.

    When the Alpina B7 arrived, I was like a kid in a candy store and couldn?t wait to ?taste? it. It is everything I expected from Alpina, and more. I have always said the 7 series is the most misunderstood car in the BMW line. It doesn?t know it is a big car, it thinks it is a little kid out there having fun, and the B7 really builds on that.

    As to diesel in the US, it?s on the way and I think it is time. During a recent BMW Experience, we had a chance to drive the 5 series diesel and everyone was impressed with it?s performance. Between the engineers at BMW and Alpina, they have found ways to keep the performance levels high and the environmental impact low. Will it be a BMW or an Alpina diesel that is introduced first I don?t know. Whichever it is I know it will fly out of the dealership with the popularity of the new eco-friendly B99 bio-diesel mix here in Southern California.?

    Thank you Judy, it was a amazing to watch your rapid progress in the wet, and a great pleasure to see you win those two awards. I've done over 25,000 track miles in the seven years since you gave me the bug, and I'm still humbled by your smoothness and feel for a car at the limit.

    There ends our overview of two extraordinary cars from two immensely skillful, and fearless drivers. For my part I'm sold on the Alpina brand, so much so that my own Z8 already rides on Alpina's suspension. They have a wonderful knack for taking very good cars and making them really excellent. If you are in the market for a superb sedan look at Alpina B7, you'll only need one drive in it to be convinced. If the little D3 comes here it may well be my next daily driver!
    Andrew Macpherson

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