A happily married couple goes to Munich to pick up two F80 BMW M3 sedans at the BMW Welt. Their BMW European Delivery story can be found below. My wife and I managed to talk ourselves into purchasing his and hers manual transmission 2015 BMW M3s. Having done an epic European Delivery mountain pass driving adventure with a 335i back in 2008, I knew European Delivery was the only way to go for getting a new BMW. This is where the story begins…
The trip was Thurs to Thurs, Oct 9-16. Unfortunately due to unknown obligations with my reserve unit, I had to schedule the trip with arrival several days before the delivery at the Welt and leave only 3 days after delivery. The original plan was to arrive the morning of the delivery and spend a week with the cars (or one of them).
The itinerary we executed (cliff’s notes, see posts below for the complete narrative and photos):
Thursday Oct 9 – We fly from Atlanta to Newark to Zurich.
Friday Oct 10 – Train from Zurich to Lucerne. Arrive at Cascada hotel. Explore Lucerne (Chapel Bridge, Lion of Lucerne, etc…) Eat dinner at Stern restaurant.
Saturday Oct 11 – Family friend takes us on a drive in country side up St Gotthard pass & to locally-famous Glasi Hergiswil glass factory. Jet lag nap. Dinner at Old Swiss House where they cook wienerschnitzel table-side.
Sunday Oct 12 – Train back to Zurich to pick up rental car. Drive to Vaduz castle in Liechtenstein. Dip into Italy and back to Austria to drive Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Arrive outside Munich to sleep before delivery.
Monday Oct 13 – Drop off rental. Dual delivery at Welt (same agent, same time). Factory tour. Explore Welt. Dropoff wife’s M3. Drive mine to Nurburgring Hotel am Tiergarten.
Tuesday Oct 14 – Day trip to Vianden, Luxembourg. Castle tour plus lunch in town. Back to Nurburgring visitor center for info, souvenirs, explore. Drive 3 laps on Nurburgring tourist session in evening. Dinner at Pistonklause.
Wednesday Oct 15 – Day trip to Bruges, Belgium. Stopped in Netherlands on the way. Belfry tower climb, canal boat tour, Belgian waffles, shopping.
Thursday Oct 16 – Drive to Frankfurt. Wash car at self wash. Dropoff my M3 and taxi to airport to fly home.
Day 1-3 (Pre-Delivery): Zurich, Lucerne, St Gotthard pass, Glasi Hergiswil, Liechtenstein, Grossglockner High Alpine Road
The story begins with our arrival in Zurich and subsequent train ride to Lucerne for the weekend. The original plan was to fly to Munich and take immediate delivery followed by a week with the cars (or one of them). That plan changed to a split itinerary where we traveled sans-M3s for the first half of the trip and then with my M3 the second half. In Lucerne we spent Friday exploring with the highlights being the chapel bridge and the Lion of Lucerne followed by dinner at Stern restaurant. On Saturday, the plan was to meet a family friend to go up to Mt. Pilatus but the weather was far to foggy to waste the time and money (same for the steamboat). Instead, she drove us into the countryside where the weather was clearer to places like the St Gotthard pass (I was able to drive her car on this pass as well).
On the way back to Lucerne, we stopped at the Glasi Hergiswil glass factory which is apparently a very old local favorite. We saw the factory in action (hand made, blown glass etc…) and bought some great items in the factory store such as a wine glass that is angled precisely so that the wine will not spill ascending the mountains in the cog trains and an iPhone dock (hey…have to adapt with times…right?). When we parted ways back in Lucerne, my wife and I absolutely crashed due to jet lag. Missed the remainder of shopping hours…that probably saved us an expensive wristwatch bill… The evening was concluded with dinner at the Old Swiss House (visited by the likes of Frank Sinatra, “Mr. Matrix” Keanu Reeves, Richard Nixon, and many others). There they prepare their infamous wienerschnitzel table-side with an unbelievable amount of butter. Prepare for a heart attack. Excellent food though. The best we had the entire trip. Though according to our family friend (a Swiss local), not a typical traditional Swiss dish.
On Sunday we left on a train back to Zurich to pick up a rental car (only one open on Sundays and we didn’t want to pay for 2 days in Lucerne not driving it). Because of the split itinerary, I had to rent a car to be able to drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria since we would not be back down that way with the M3s. It would have been cheaper to take a train straight to Munich, but I needed to cross this one off my bucket list since i missed it on my last ED. Our rental car was an Alfa Romeo Guilietta diesel with a manual trans and nav (thankfully…don’t attempt driving in Europe without navigation). I had selected a BMW 1er or Audi A3 but this was what we were assigned. Not a bad car by any means and sporty enough for my purposes. We started by driving to Vaduz castle in Liechtenstein. Charming town there but not much else to see and you can’t go inside the castle as the royalty still resides there.
Next, we drove down into Italy (Brenner pass I believe) and back up into Austria to Heiligenblut at the foot of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road (an automotive bucket list item for me). The Grossglockner pass has limited opening hours and requires a 34 euro toll. It is well worth it though. Surprisingly there was not a single snowflake on the pass. We drove to the dead end with the visitors center, museum and parking deck. There you can see the glacier. We were practically the only ones there at this hour as it was getting dark. After we left here, we took the pass north which turned out to be the real gem. A very long distance with many, many curves and deadly drop-offs. This is part of the high alpine road that is most depicted but unfortunately for me I had to do it in the dark which added an element of danger. There were even tunnels bored through the mountain at extremely high altitudes. We were the only people on the road at this point. The sheer amount of epic mountain/valley scenery throughout Switzerland, northern Italy an Austria is mind boggling. I actually grew weary of seeing towering mountains and charming valley villages.
Day 4 (Delivery): BMW Welt, Factory Tour, Drive to Nurburgring
We stayed outside Munich on Sunday night after driving all day. The drive into Munich on Monday morning was terrible. Traffic is pretty bad commuting into the city. We barely made it to the BMW Welt by the check-in deadline for my delivery (9AM for 10:30 delivery). The Welt staff was very accommodating to us. When they discovered both my wife and I had deliveries that day (my wife’s was at 2:00PM) they made some calls and arranged for us to take delivery at the same time with the same BMW delivery agent at my original morning appointment. We then proceeded to the premium lounge for a bite to eat and the wait. I was able to catch a glimpse of my Yas Marina Blue M3 from one of the windows in the premium lounge.
At our appointment time, we met with Benjamin Gregori who appeared to be in his early 30s like us and was great to work with. At the meeting area we caught a quick glimpse of my wife’s Alpine White M3 w/18’s…but no matter as we were on the way down to see the two M3s in person. Of course…no descent down the delivery area stairs is completed without the requisite BMW HQ photo as it is framed by the Welt’s windows. We were both very excited when we spotted our his and hers M3s rotating together in the spotlights. The official photographer was happy to get our photos both together and separately. If you haven’t noticed, my wife’s Alpine White on Sonoma Biege is among the rarest of color combos ordered at this point (especially configured with the manual transmission). Mr. Gregori asked if we both wanted a tour of our cars but upon realizing how extensively I had researched the car, he walked my wife through hers while I did my tourist thing and took a hundred or so photos. He was kind enough to use my phone to take pictures of us on the parade lap together before exiting.
After the parade lap we moved outside and took some more photos before valeting the cars. There was an immediate swarm of gawkers. We even had folks taking selfies with the M3s and the valet attendant ended up yelling at people to stay away front the cars (though I told the folks it was OK and feel free). The BMW Welt staff was very accommodating, once again, and brought the cars back out for some more photos after we went on the free-for-delivery-customers factory tour (which is fascinating and you get to see the M4 being built). They even lined them up for us in front of the double cone and helped us take pictures. They were the front desk staff so we appreciate them stepping away to help us out. Before leaving, we decided to go ahead and leave my wife’s M3 with the Welt for redelivery. It was just going to be a lot of driving with us in separate cars and we only had one cell phone unlocked and on a German sim card. Plus, my wife wanted to spend time with me in the car together and not by herself.
Day 3-4 (Post-Delivery): Arrival in Nurburg, Luxembourg Day Trip
After the delivery day wrapped up, we hopped into my Yas Marina Blue M3 and started our journey to Nurburg where we would base ourselves out of for the remainder of the trip. After 5 hours or so, we arrived at Hotel am Tiergarten which sits a couple hundred meters from the Nurburgring. You can see the track and hear cars at all hours of the day (but not loud enough to disturb your sleep). The hotel is run by Sabine Schmitz family (of ring taxi fame) and consists of multiple buildings. It appeared that they had acquired neighboring houses over time and converted them. I obtained a prime parking spot for my M3 upon arrival and after eating at the excellent Pistonklause restaurant inside the hotel (where there were many local ring instructors and drivers congregating) we called it a night.
On Tuesday morning I explored Nurburg a bit on foot while my wife was getting ready. The BMW M test center is located in town with some eye candy visible in the showroom. Since the touristfahrten (tourist driving) sessions did not open until 5:15PM (I believe) we executed our plan to take a day trip to Luxembourg since it is not far away. We stopped for a few countryside photos ops along the way. The rolling hills were somewhat anti-climatic after being surrounded by towering alpine mountains in Switzerland and Austria. We toured the Vianden castle which is the primary attraction, followed up by lunch in the town below. The castle has been destroyed and rebuilt and reconfigured numerous times so I got the feeling that what I was seeing was hardly original. Frankly I was a little disappointed. Nice place but the history of restoration was too cryptic for me to feel like I was somewhere that had been standing for nearly 1000 years.
Day 4 (Afternoon/Evening): Return to Nurburg, Nurburgring
Upon returning to Nurburg, we visited the Nurburging visitor center and ring werk complex. There we got information about the track tickets and shopped a bit in the stores. They seemed to have very little stock of shirts and were out of many sizes but there were some cool souvenirs to be had. These were the ones I wanted most to take home from the trip as the Nurburgring was my number one priority. At the ring, there were a plethora of 911s. Most of which seemed to be GT3s. To drive on the ring, you merely need to purchase a ticket from the manned kiosk by the toll gates or the visitors center. The ticket is loaded electronically on a “ring card” which you scan at the toll gates to enter the track. The queue always moved quickly. Each run was 27 euro per, or 4 for 100 euro. I got 3 laps in decided to call it quits because I was still miraculously alive and the car unwrecked. My wife was going to drive but once she saw just how chaotic and fast the course and other drivers were, we both decided it was too unsafe for her to attempt it given she has no track experience, no rear wheel drive experience, and wasn’t even familiar with basic performance driving concepts like apexing.
The Nurburgring was unreal. It was better than I imagined. Complete driving nirvana. And the M3 was right at home on the track there. Very balanced and just ate all the hard late braking and mindless flogging I could throw at it. I drove with all of the nannies on due to my inexperience with both the track and the car. For the first run I used my M1 setting with the rev matching which made me sound like a pro. For subsequent runs I used my M2 setting with sport plus everything (or whatever it is called). This car seems to make you look like a superhero on the track.
We finished off Tuesday evening by eating at the Pistonklause restaurant again. The food was excellent. Service a bit slow but there are so few staff working it is understandable. Again, lots of ring drivers and instructors eating there after touristfahrten ended.
Day 6 (Post-Delivery): Netherlands, Bruges Belgium, Return to Nurburg
On Wednesday (our final full day in Europe) we headed out on a day trip in my M3 to Bruges, Belgium with my wife driving the first part of the trip on the autobahn (she did 120MPH at one point…fastest she had been but I hit the speed limiter myself the day before at 155MPH actual and 167MPH indicated). Along the way we discovered we were only minutes away from the Netherlands (we had originally considered Amsterdam for the day trip) so we made a slight detour and explored a little to add another country to our visited list. The Netherlands villages and cities look so much different than most of the other countries we were in. Very tidy and modern yet still aged homes. Very IKEA looking I guess. We got back on the road and continued on to Bruges, Belgium. Some say that it is very touristy. And it is. However, we wanted to see the very old preserved features of the city even if it was a tourist destination. You can easily see most of what the city offers in one day. Not much point staying there.
We climbed the spiral staircase in the belfry. It gets very tight near the top so much so that if someone is coming down you may have to go down a bit to be able to let them by. The building is a feat of medieval engineering and towers over the city. A medieval skyscraper if you will…providing spectacular views. Definitely worth the price of admission and the sweat. After shopping for a bit (chocolate a must) we finished the brief tour of the city by taking a canal boat tour. This is also a must do and a great way to see the city sights. Unfortunately, we missed out on the Brouwerij de Halve Maan (Half Moon Brewery) as it closed at 6PM (the tourists vanish about this hour because most shops and attractions close at this time). We cancelled our reservations to eat at Park restaurant due to time limitations and took a bus back to the parking lot where we got in the M3 and headed back to Nurburg to pack up.
Day 7 (Dropoff): Car Prep, Frankfurt Dropoff
On Thursday morning, we left very early to head to Frankfurt for the drop off of my M3. I wanted to have enough time to wash the car first as required by BMW (smart regardless). We arrived with 1.5 hours to spare and I wasted all of that waiting for a nearby self serve car wash to not open. Apparently they did not open the wash until 9AM. I headed to a rumored self service car wash about 15min away in Offenbach am Main and spent 18 euro on tokens to get the car acceptably clean. (Each token good for 104 seconds of soaping/washing). By the time this was done we were an hour late to our drop off appointment but I was told that it was very common for people to run late and they were very accommodating and understanding. Once we finished the paperwork and turned in one of the keys, they called us a taxi (due to time limitations) and we headed to Frankfurt airport to fly home to the US. Our overall driving statistics in my M3 were pretty impressive. 1856km driven with a combination of autobahn cruising at low and high speeds, high speed blasts, Nurburging runs, my addiction to acceleration, putzing around through construction zones (of which there are MANY) and small villages all resulted in an average of 21MPG. Not bad at all for a car with close to 500hp (realistically).
Trip Summary: An epic delivery of his and hers M3s
Overall the trip was epic. Lots of driving…but we were getting cars…why wouldn’t we? The new M3s are fantastic. We are very satisfied. Though I wish my wife could have driven hers around, I think it worked out better to drop hers off because of how much time was spent on the road and our lack of a second cell phone to maintain comms. This was my second ED (first for my wife) and I will never buy a new BMW without taking delivery in this fashion. It is a no brainer. We are taking redelivery at the Performance Center in SC when the cars make it over here. Why not? Double up on the awesome deliveries if they are willing, right?
Videos from the trip of my M3: