“Quality in automobile construction can only be created where tradition and progress are combined.”
The idea of BMW Group Classic can hardly be expressed any better. And even this idea has already developed into a tradition. The concept originates from a BMW advertisement to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the automobile – 50 years ago.
BMW Group Classic coordinates all the activities of the BMW Group which are associated with the history of the company, its products and three brands. The relevant classic activities of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce are unified under the auspices of BMW Group Classic. The platform is formed by the classic mainstays of museum, archives, club support and the BMW Centre, as well as event organisation and specific classic communication. Classics from the BMW Group’s own collection are not simply housed in the museum, they are on the road at events throughout the world.
BMW Group Classic succeeded BMW Group Mobile Tradition in 2008. When this department was originally established in 1994, it focused on the preservation of historic cars and motorcycles as mobile testimonies to eras in the history of the BMW brand. As the global boom in classic vehicles developed, new fields of activity opened up, such as technical support, organisation and participation in events, and contemporary communication of historic information.
BMW Group Classic is directed towards growth and adopts a customer-centric approach with a flexible range of offerings. We are already in a position to forecast that the portfolio of BMW automobiles and motorcycles will increase disproportionately to the general market development over the coming years. The number of historic cars with the white-and-blue emblem amounts to an estimated 600,000 – it is however very uncertain how many such cars actually exist. There are additionally some 70,000 motorcycles with classic status. This means that approximately every tenth BMW machine built up until the 1980s is still on the roads today. And every year, the number of BMW classics increases significantly. One key reason for this development is the strong sales growth of the BMW brand since the 1980s. Rising figures are also projected for the other two brands MINI and Rolls-Royce.
While MINI and Rolls-Royce form the focus of building up the classic vehicle collection and the database of historic information, the activities surrounding the BMW brand are set to be more extensive. The international perspective we are seeking to create involves the creation of a BMW Classic Centre network with service bases in all the key markets. Intensive cooperation with the dealer organisations and the BMW Clubs provides an important platform for this endeavour. Some 200,000 club members are important brand ambassadors and multiplicators for this concept and BMW Classic reciprocates with special offers in return for their commitment.
Making dreams come true: The BMW Classic Centre
BMW Group Classic is also acknowledging the desire of many enthusiasts to own a vehicle as close to the original as possible and in absolutely immaculate condition – this is evinced by the burgeoning interest in classic BMW and Rolls-Royce vehicles. The BMW Classic Centre has been available for friends of the BMW brand since autumn 2008. The big advantage for customers who take their vehicle to the original manufacturer is complete service from a single source. The Classic Centre possesses the theoretical knowledge of the vehicles, the technical know-how, the original BMW parts and the infrastructure necessary to integrate all these aspects systematically. Classics in immaculate condition have been sold since autumn 2010 alongside the service and restoration activities.
The challenges are as varied as the vehicles. These aspirations are seldom simple. For example, the owner of the 3.0 CSi wants to have an automatic transmission as a replacement for the manual gearbox originally installed in his coupé dating from the 1970s. Because this combination was never marketed, independent service centres were unable to meet this requirement. The BMW Classic Centre saw the situation rather differently. In February 1972, BMW had fitted the high-powered coupé with an automatic transmission as a pilot project. However, this version never got beyond the prototype stage. The BMW restorers had rapid and unrestricted access to documents in the Group Archives, giving them the capability to reproduce this version – true to the original. However, a project like this takes time because some components have to be purpose-built.
As is the case with new vehicles, the different operations are carried out by the appropriate specialist divisions. At BMW Classic, this takes place primarily in the manufacturing network of the BMW Group. Specialists in Munich take care of the mechanical and electrical components. The BMW Plant in Dingolfing looks after any work necessary on car bodies through to paintwork. Motor-sport vehicles go directly to BMW Motorsport GmbH and the specialists of M GmbH, come into play for BMW M vehicles.
The capacity of the Classic Centre is limited. BMW Classic set up the project “Customer Workshop” in order to meet the rising demand. The aim was to make the new services and products more local and less centralised. The first partners are already on board. In 2009, the BMW Classic Centre launched its first joint venture in Switzerland. The BMW dealership in Zurich Dielsdorf has been servicing a growing number of BMW classics in its catchment area for some time. This has resulted in increased demand to provide a professional service for the vehicles. The BMW dealership in Düsseldorf then followed suit with the BMW Classic Centre North Rhine-Westphalia providing support for a large portfolio of BMW Classics in the region. More national joint-venture partners joined up in 2010. The BMW dealerships in Hanover, Hamburg and Nuremberg, and BMW Automag in Munich signed up. A suitable partner was also identified in the founding country of classic vehicles – the United Kingdom. The BMW Park Lane dealership in London has been established for classic cars as “BMW Classic at BMW Park Lane” since 2010.
The “Customer Service Centre” project is gradually being extended to other regions in Germany and to other countries with potential for classic cars and “youngtimers”. The BMW Car Club of America alone now has more than 70,000 members while the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America numbers some 50,000 members, who are each estimated to have between three and four vehicles of their own. BMW Classic wants to meet the interests of this large group of customers in a strategic approach.
Parts supply: focus on post-war classics.
An extensive parts service has existed for Rolls-Royce, MINI and BMW for decades. While customers’ requirements for the two British heritage brands have been primarily catered for by independent providers, BMW Classic has been the first point of contact for decades when customers have wanted to procure original spare parts for the BMW brand. The range of original BMW parts for classic vehicles has been undergoing a continual process of expansion. The inventory of parts currently numbers around 40,000 components – most of them are parts for classic cars that came on the road after 1948. Starting with the BMW R 24, the parts list is becoming more and more complete as the models became more recent. This single-cylinder motorcycle was the first BMW vehicle to be produced after the end of the war, and series production started up again with this model. The latest offspring from BMW series production to be taken under the wing of the experts at BMW Group Classic is the third generation of the 5 Series, which rolled off the assembly line until 1995. Intensive contacts with brand clubs, drivers of BMW classics and market analysis provide the experts with the knowledge they require in order to identify the needs.
Generally the responsibility for supplying motorcycle parts is transferred to BMW Classic 20 years after production comes to an end, and BMW Classic takes over responsibility for automobile parts when a model series comes to an end depending on the volume. The easiest part in this process is relocation of the existing stock of components. Physically, they remain in the central BMW Dynamic Centre in Dingolfing and only the organisation is transferred to BMW Group Classic. However, this also entails responsibility for the tools and production machinery used to manufacture the parts. And the decision on the future of these resources needs to be considered very carefully. When the means of production are scrapped, it is no longer possible to readily manufacture parts to original specifications. This not only affects tools with which BMW itself manufactured the parts. The experts at BMW are also in a position to determine the fate of important production facilities at suppliers. Pressing tools for bodywork parts and highly complex shapes for model-specific components are right at the top of the list of priorities for production facilities that are worth preserving. All the tools relevant to re-manufacturing are put into store.
Vehicle expertise: first-hand certificate of authenticity.
BMW is one of the few manufacturers to offer comprehensive and detailed vehicle expertise for classic BMW automobiles and motorcycles. The vehicle expertise provides information about the originality and status of classic vehicles. Frequently, modifications that have been carried out over the years during repairs or restorations are difficult to identify. BMW Classic has the expertise to check historic BMW automobiles and motorcycles for their originality. The experts at the BMW Classic Centre work closely together with their colleagues from the BMW Group Archives to develop BMW vehicle expertise. Important key data on a vehicle’s history can frequently be reconstructed there. BMW vehicle expertise is an important tool for correctly assessing the market value of a classic BMW. It gives the client correct information about the value of their prized possession and provides a reliable basis for negotiating a sale or purchase.
Pit stop with the professionals: The BMW Group Classic Motor Sport Department
Motor sport with historic vehicles is experiencing an unbridled boom. More and more competitions are attracting competitors and the public alike with their magic. One or more vehicles from the BMW and Mini model ranges almost always take part in the competition. BMW Group Classic set up its own Motor Sport Department in 2010 to make sure that the vehicles are always ready to take to the race track. This department provides the same comprehensive service for classic racing cars as BMW Classic already offers for road vehicles.
The specialists regard their main customers as owners of racing cars from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Anyone who owns such a powerful car also wants to drive it. The drivers develop ambitions to match the event and these aspirations hardly fall short of those held by the racing drivers from the heyday of these classics on the race track. And the situation today is no different to yesteryear because a component can still fail or break when subjected to the rigours of racing conditions. Obtaining spare parts to the required quality is not an easy matter for highly specialised racing vehicles. This is where the specialists at BMW Group Classic Motorsport are pleased to help, even to the extent of re-manufacturing special components. If damage to the vehicles or wear and tear is more extensive, BMW Group Classic also offers maintenance, repair or reconstruction.
Reconstruction: Mini Cooper and BMW 1602 as demonstration vehicles.
The specialists built two competition vehicles as demonstration models. Firstly, a Mini Cooper S Mark 1 model year 1964, which can be used for circuit racing. And secondly, a BMW 1602 touring car from the 1970s. The two cars were recreated new from scratch, i.e. starting with the body shell. While the Mini was modified to be a racing vehicle, the 1602 already has a racing history.
The Motor Sport Department at BMW Group Classic is meeting the growing demand to provide competent and authentic service for motor-sport classics. No wonder that many of the erstwhile stars of the racing tracks and rally routes have survived and still have an active life today. They come overwhelmingly from the period between 1960 and 1990 – three decades when BMW and Mini were playing a defining role in motor sport.
Experience history at first hand: The BMW Museum.
More than 120 original exhibits in 25 exhibition areas are the central focus of the BMW Museum redesigned in 2008. Development lines highlight the dynamic performance and innovative force of the BMW brand in a history spanning more than 90 years. The concept for the exhibition is not based on history as a closed chronology but progresses in the form of development lines which start in the past, lead to the present and facilitate forecasts. Media and dramatisations highlight these development trajectories and transform them into a meaningful experience.
The concept enshrined in the interior architectural concept of the museum is based on a system of ramps sweeping dynamically and weightlessly through the space. The ramps connect 25 exhibition areas encompassing seven main thematic areas. This provides visitors with a continuum of illuminating insights into a specific subject. Visitors move forward on this system of ramps in the same way as they would move along a road. The ramp takes them through time and space and provides the setting for dramatic presentations extending across areas and pointing forward to the individual exhibitions. However, nobody is compelled to view the exhibition in a particular sequence. Visitors are given the opportunity to structure their own individual pathway through the museum.
One kilometre of horizontal and vertical museum experience.
The tour through the museum is about one kilometre long. It starts in the low-level extension where the permanent exhibitions are located, and ends in the top section of the world-famous “Museum Bowl”. This is where temporary exhibitions on a variety of different subjects are staged. Visitors already encounter the facades of the “BMW Square” in the foyer. These are configured with satinised glass panels and are 13 metres high. LED technology with more than 1.7 million light-emitting diodes is deployed behind these facades, bathing this central square in bright light. Selected film sequences and images are screened on the 706 m² area of facade which relate thematically to typical BMW “Sheer driving pleasure” and create a monumental table of contents for the entire museum.
Specific houses are dedicated to the overarching themes of design, engineering, model series, motor sport, motorcycle history and brands. The houses consist of various rooms at different levels presenting different aspects of a subject. For example, the “Engineering House” is divided into the rooms “Engines”, “Lightweight Construction” and “Aerodynamics”. Each house has its own identity, which is also highlighted by a dedicated design appearance.
Personal time travel with style icons.
The development trajectories of the brand and the company are demonstrated evocatively by the style-defining vehicles that BMW has manufactured during the past 90 years. Big favourites with the public are the Isetta, the BMW 2002, the R32 motorcycle, the BMW 328 and 507, but also the H2R record-breaking vehicle. Cars, motorcycles, racing cars, engines and components demonstrate the product diversity, continuity and innovative force of the brand.
A tour is highly recommended for those visitors who would like to gain an in-depth insight into the development trajectories of BMW. This takes approximately 1 1/2 hours but the tour can be shortened for private groups depending on the particular focus of their interests. The maximum number of participants on a tour is always 15 people. Exclusive private groups can be booked for groups of between five and 15 people.
The exhibition concept permits visitors to take a pathway without a guided tour so they can experience the exhibition areas of the museum independently. The Cicerone Service is available during the visit as a contact. And if visitors want to recharge their batteries during their tour, the Café M1 in the BMW Museum provides a wide range of culinary delights to suit every taste.
Junior Museum: Educational Programme for Children and Teenagers.
Proactive engagement with selected exhibits in the BMW Museum is the centrepiece of the educational programme presented by the museum for groups of children aged between six and 13 and teenagers above the age of 14. Analysing the exhibits from different perspectives develops several different areas of knowledge relevant to education, such as engineering, history and design. A tour round the museum lasts one hour and takes the form of a dialogue, where the content is matched to the existing knowledge and interests of the participants. The tour ends with some exercises in practical applications and design at the Creative Workshop in the BMW Museum.
Concentrated knowledge of a century: the BMW Group Archives.
The BMW Group Archives provide a centre of competence on all issues relating to the history of the company, brand and product. The core function is the systematic collection, presentation and academic evaluation of all documents which are important for the company history.
Documents include manuals, brochures and spare parts lists on all the products manufactured, and they combine with a comprehensive collection of files to form the main focus of the archive material. There is also a portfolio of some 200,000 photographs and 5,000 films which are professionally administered in the Historic Media Archives. The BMW Group Archives also have a comprehensive portfolio of literature with some 4,000 books and 1,000 magazines dating from 1891 to the present day. The Archive Library also contains a stock of non-fiction books and journals on business, engineering and mobility history, as well as BMW plant magazines and customer magazines. The entire literature archive can be researched online in the Archive Database. Around 4,000 documents such as all BMW Annual Reports, employee magazines, early customer magazines and selected items of product material are also digitised and accessible to anyone for viewing online by going to http://www.bmw-grouparchiv.de/
The BMW Group Archives also offer a service tailored to individual requirements. Anyone interested in particular aspects of the product and company history of the BMW Group will find the most important documents when they visit the archives and they will receive expert advice. The library stocks can also be studied in the reading room. The BMW Archives can be accessed by visitors after advance registration has taken place.
Owners of classic vehicles can obtain information on the origins of their vehicle from the archive. Delivery documents dating back to 1923 allow virtually any BMW car and motorcycle built to date to be traced back to its origins. The manufacturer’s certificate and the certificate providing this information in a handsome presentation document are very popular with vehicle collectors. Reprints of original car manuals from the pre-war period through to cars and motorcycles up to the 1970s also provide helpful information. In addition, the BMW Group Archives also hold remainders of original car manuals and brochures from the 1950s to the 1990s. Original car manuals, reprints, films, various print products and accessories can be ordered from the Online Shop.
Multiplying sheer driving pleasure: communication and events.
The most attractive functions of BMW Group Classic include communicating the fascination of historic automobiles and motorcycles throughout the world. A key aspect of this task is therefore communication in all its facets. The most important partners include around 640 brand clubs with some 200,000 members across the world. In numerical terms, each of them has a BMW dating from past decades – the number of historic cars bearing the white-and-blue emblem amounts to at least 200,000 – and it is very uncertain how many such cars actually exist. There are additionally some 70,000 motorcycles with classic status. This means that every tenth BMW machine built up until the 1980s is still on the roads today. And every year, the number of BMW classics increases significantly. The BMW 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series from the first and second generations with their big production runs already number among the “youngtimers”.
BMW Group Classic fosters intensive individual contacts with clubs, owners and fans. It also issues the magazine BMW Classic live twice a year, supplemented by special issues focusing on specific subject areas. Various book projects are also part of the mix. Numerous books have already been published on vehicles, engines, company history and the BMW Tower - known locally as the “Four-cylinder”. Moreover, the online service from BMW Classic is a permanent source of information that can be called up at any time. The information is continually being updated and can be accessed under the address www.bmw-classic.com
The Techno Classica in April 2010 sounded the starting signal for the successful campaign “Joy never ends”. BMW advertised for its cars and motorcycles from the 1970s and 1980s on posters, in advertisements and with film clips. In a viral film series, BMW also gives an entertaining and amusing presentation showing the everyday performance of the legendary BMW 3.0 CSi on a five-day trip from Munich to Marseille. The aim of the campaign was to foreground BMW recent classics to a young, style-conscious target group as an exciting alternative. The other focus was to present the range of services provided by the new BMW Classic Centre for the restoration of BMW classic cars and “youngtimers”.
Events of all types provide a communication medium that is deployed intensively. Classic BMW automobiles and motorcycles appear as highlights at rallies, races, exhibitions, fairs and BMW and MINI club events throughout the world. BMW Classic features as organiser, sponsor and participant. One of the most famous events is the annual Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. This is a beauty competition for automobiles with the richest heritage in the world. The patronage and organisation provided by BMW Group Classic has transformed the Concorso into one of the most prestigious events for classic automobiles across the world.
BMW Classic has also fostered a long track record of vehicles from its collection lining up on the starting grid at historic races and rallies. A Mini Cooper S dating from 1969 competed in the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique driven by Rauno Aaltonen to celebrate the centenary of the world-famous rally. Traditionally, BMW classic cars also take part in the annual Mille Miglia, with the victorious BMW 328 starring in the limelight. Cars and motorcycles from BMW Classic are also an integral part of the scene at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival held in the United Kingdom – the list is limitless.
Re-opening the BMW Museum after a period of refurbishment created an event venue with a unique atmosphere. BMW Classic hosts concert series here as well as offering various rooms in the BMW Museum as an atmospheric and unforgettable venue for a wide variety of outside events. The capacity of the rooms ranges from small groups in the Café M1 to the BMW Square with space to accommodate up to 340 people. Individual expert guided tours transform the events into a cultural experience in an environment populated by original exhibits.