First Part and Second Part. I’m not an instant-gratification kind of guy. I have tremendous patience. That is, until I custom-ordered my first BMW. I thought it would be wise to order my 2008 328xi EXACTLY as I wanted it. My CA told me it would take 6-8 weeks depending on conditions in the Atlantic. Well, what he left out was the plant shut down over the Christmas holiday. So, what do you do with two months of waiting on your hands? You surf BMW websites, forums and blogs. And that’s where I discovered other nuts. Um, I mean, “enthusiasts.”

I’d never been much of a car enthusiast. But by January I was a regular poster on BMW forums and even started topics where others with January production runs could track their cars. Once your dealer provides you with your order production number (or VIN) you can track your BMW’s build through the BMW Owner’s Circle website or via BMW NA’s 800#. I called daily. Sometimes twice a day. I knew to the day when my car entered production, when it entered the body shop, the paint shop, assembly. I knew when it got transported from the factory to the port of exit in Bremerhaven, Germany.

That’s when it gets even harder. Once in port, you car sits there and waits for a spot on a shipping vessel.

Suddenly, I became an import/export mogul…tracking ships across eastern Europe and the Atlantic to guesstimate what vessel I would be loaded on (and when).

At last, I was loaded on a ship called the Otello. Myself and dozens of others with Bimmers on the Otello commiserated in online forums. I registered for free with shipping websites, tracking the boat’s every movement via satellite until it finally docked in NJ.

For the next couple of days, it was a guessing game. How long until my car made it through the VPC. At last, I received the call from my dealer. “The car will be here on Valentine’s Day. We’ll clean it up, get the registration taken care of, and you can pick it up first thing Saturday morning.” Saturday, February 16th. Christmas.

This is the third in a series of entries about the BMW experience from a non-enthusiast’s perspective.

Next up: Delivery.