Hey BMW fans. Just wanted to tell you about an amazing car meet I was at recently. The day starts like any other cars and coffee morning, but this one was going to be unique. I’m about to go meet my brothers and sisters, most whom I’ve never met before….
I hit the autobahn and at 100-150mph, the blue sky and bright green German landscape passes pretty quickly. No drama, no fuss, and no inattentive or inconsiderate drivers hogging the left lane. They know how to drive here and they know fast cars are coming. I’m going to miss driving in Germany when I eventually leave.
Before I know it, I roll into Frankfurt. I’m on my way to see my friend Amar and his wife, Nina. Amar owns Luxus car detailing business in Cassellapark, Frankfurt, and last year had an idea to have a barbeque and car meetup. So, he invited a group of 1 Series car friends from his Facebook page and a bunch of BMWs showed up in various shades of black, white and orange.
“We had a BBQ last year and we had about 25 cars coming here” Amar told me. “It was our first event and it was so good, that when we posted photos and videos on FB and Instagram, I had other owners contact me to do this again….so I thought why not!”
This year Amar decided to up the ante! He put the call out in March and soon the responses rolled in – 25 cars are coming, 33 cars, then 39 cars, and then 45. But he wasn’t satisfied and made more announcement, finally hitting the magic number of 50 cars responding that they would show.
Now most of you would think 50 BMWs at a Cars and Coffee, even if they were all ///Ms, wouldn’t be that big of a deal….
As Chris and his wife Laura, owners of an orange BMW, tell me “in Germany we call this Benzin-Gesprächen.” Roughly translated it means “petrol talks”. It’s when a bunch of petrol heads come together at one place and they speak with each other about the same car or the same passion.
What makes this petrol talks special is that the passion shared here is the 2011-2012 BMW 1 series M coupe.
Made for about a year, with 6000+ cars built for the entire world, getting more than a handful to one location could be pretty difficult.
Knowing how rare these cars are, Amar and his wife (they own a black 1M) decided to sponsor what may well become an annual event, a “1M Cars and BBQ.” “This year we have cars from across Europe including the UK, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium and one from USA,” said Amar.
James, from the UK, drove his 1M more than 500 miles to be a part of this year’s event.
“I saw the photos last year and Amar asked me to get some other English (drivers) to be here this year, but I’m the only one to drive 10 hours to get here,” he said. “I’m so pleased I did, it’s been absolutely fantastic with fantastic people. Just seeing 48 1Ms in one place, the lineup in the photos, was just fantastic.”
In what is possibly a world record outside the BMW factory in Leipzig, Amar was able to assemble an amazing selection of 1Ms in a surprising number of colors.
Having been to a lot of car shows and events in the US and here in Europe, I must say Amar and Nina put together a class act, with event t-shirts, an open fridgestocked with drinks, desserts, and a food truck grilling up some great hamburgers and German bratwursts.
When I asked him why he would put something like this together, without any corporate sponsorship or help, basically at his own expense, he tells me “First of all, I love to share with other people. It’s in my character. For me it’s to give something to the guys out there, the 1Ms.”
“I’m in Frankfurt, so this is actually the middle point of Europe you could say and I just came to the conclusion last year “why not”? I just want people to come here with their 1Ms, have a nice day, and relax, chill and meetup!”
For hours I milled around taking pictures and listening to all the languages being spoken. When able I joined in conversations about mods, miles per gallon/liter, suspension settings, tunes and tires…everything petrol heads talk about. As the only American, it was nice being a part of such a large multinational gathering of car enthusiasts…all here because of one unique car.
An original 1M owner now for seven years, I already know what a great car it is, but everyone I talked to wanted to tell me how special the car was.
Oliver, from the Czech Republic, told me “I like the driving, it’s very direct, it’s light, it’s a little beast. I’ve owned it four and a half years, I would never sell!”
Chris, from Germany, smiles as he looks at his car “the 1M is a special car, especially in Valencia Orange. I like the shape of the car and the N54 engine, it’s the best engine. The sound and the look. I like the original rims… It’s a special BMW 1 series car.”
I look at his wife, Laura, and ask if this is Chris’s baby? She laughs. “Yes, it is his baby. I’m his second baby so… I’m allowed to say that.”
Ironically my wife has told me the same thing whenever we discuss our 1M sitting in the garage, hiding from the rain, snow and sun. Or when we park in the empty parking lot across the street instead of closer to the door like most other drivers who aren’t so OCD about their rides.
Mark, rolling in a beautiful black 1M with M stripes from tip to tail, also from Germany, says to me “It’s very compact and nice looking. The design of the car is timeless. Only one year of production but today, it is still a good-looking car. The 1M is very specialized, I don’t want a car you can find in town very often.”
As I look around at an unbelievable collection of black, orange and white 1Ms with some purple and light green cars sprinkled about, I wonder how Mark feels seeing so many versions of his car.
“I drove here last year and it was a bit smaller, we were about 25-30 cars….and now it’s double, almost 50” he said. “It’s a big community and we stay in contact all the year and we are very happy to meet again each year…it’s like a family.”
Hearing some laughter, I see James getting some good-natured ribbingabout his UK-spec car being built wrong. “Chatting to the other drivers they all think someone’s put my steering wheel on the wrong side. That seems to be the running joke at the moment. For the group photo I even had to stand on the wrong side of my car…otherwise if I stood on the right side, I would have messed the photo up.”
In the background Amar is speaking in German, telling everyone what the plan will be to drive up to a large hill at the outskirts of Frankfurt, where we would have a photo shoot. Sadly, some owners have to leave before the grand finale photograph, leaving some beautiful rides out of the picture.
As you can imagine, getting almost 50 cars through a major German city was an exercise in chaos management, but with only a few detours and confusing moments, we rolled out onto the autobahn, leaving Frankfurt for the countryside.
That’s where the true impact of the event became evident as this car has such a mean look on the road that it overwhelms other daily drivers. I’ve never seen so many 1Ms on the road. Buzzing all around me were identical twins to my VO 1M, then the white 1M with roll cage and fairings that looked like it was ready for the DTM race, a super shiny black 1M with classy M stripes, a beautiful wrapped 1M in light frost green, and some purple 1Ms that looked really sweet rolling down the autobahn.
As many photos as our passengers were shooting, people on the streets were shooting twice as many. It seemed every passing car had a phone or camera aimed in our direction.
As blown away as I was to see all those cars weaving in traffic, exhausts burbling like angry bees, it was the Brit, James, that said it best. “I suppose as we love the car so much, seeing so many on the road in front of you, the presence of the car, it’s more about the feeling that it gives you. It’s such a special car….and having all these cars together was simply amazing!”
When we arrive, the photographers line all the cars up almost perfectly for the ultimate shot, showing 39 cars all in a line, alternating colors of bright orange, deep black, pure white and a few other colors.
Seeing so many 1Ms lined up made me appreciate that even though we all came from different lands, when it comes to these rare beauties we’re brothers and sisters, all speaking the same language behind the wheel.
I asked Laura how she and Chris felt about seeing so many twins to their rare baby here. “I think it’s also not about being better, it’s just about sharing opinions, sharing the same lifestyle, sharing the same interests, and I think event like this makes it special. It’s not like I am better, I have something like this that is better…it’s just like sharing something you both love, not just one person…a team thing.”
I couldn’t have said it better. I’m glad I came.
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“We’ve got 10 different countries here today with about 48 1Ms, as far as I know maybe the (unofficial) world record. I must admit next time I think we could get some more and really hit the record, as there aren’t many in the world, a limited edition…I think we will have the record!
Sadly, I won’t be here as my tour of duty working for the US military ends and my baby M and I head back to the states. But I’ll be rooting for Amar, Nina and their team to break this year’s unofficial world record of 48 1Ms at one event. Stay tuned!
[Photos by Rick Bumgardner]