The annual BMW Car Club Concours d'Elegance was held at the Montecasino Piazza, with its beautiful Tuscan architecture forming the back-drop, as a perfect setting for the show. The South African love affair with the blue and white roundel started when a German immigrant brought the first BMW motorcycle to South Africa in 1928; it might not have been a car but it was a BMW nonetheless. Four decades later, assembly of BMWs in South Africa was started by Praetor Monteerders and by 1975 BMW AG realised the potential and bought him out, establishing BMW South Africa and the first BMW plant outside of Germany.
The Piazza was chock-a-block and could not accommodate one more BMW without infringing on municipal safety regulations. This meant that the overflow had to park on the grass area. It wouldn’t be a Concours without the South African specials, they were all present and accounted for, the E12 530 MLE (the first BMW to adorn the M plate), the E23 745i (sporting the M88 motor as first used in the M1), E30 333i and the E30 325iS (the final iteration pushing out 155kW). The Henna red 333i parked on the grass sure was a looker, probably the only one that I’ve seen in this hue.
With only five M1s that I know of in South Africa it was a real privilege to have two at the Concours both having been driven there. Other rarities included the 700 Hans Stuck replica, that is a true tribute to the winning car of the 1960s. Even rarer than the 700 was the off-white 2000 Cheetah that Marek Letowt’s father brought; it was manufactured in the then Rhodesia.
Evolution 2 Motorsport, specialists in servicing BMWs as well as building, preparing and restoring older racing BMWs; part of their display comprised of a Batmobile which they unveiled at the 2012 Concours as well as the Tony Viana Winfield E30 325i Shadowline that they restored. If that was not enough they unveiled a replica of the Group A Schnitzer BMW 635CSi the first racer that they have built (over the last five years) that they own and intend to campaign. Mixing it up with these racers was another Batmobile which is campaigned in the historic racing series by Graham Nathan. Last but not least in terms of the racers was the Jägermeister E30 325iS owned and campaigned by Don Salt in the BMW Car Club Race Series. The engine is from an E36 328i, the five-speed gearbox and front suspension from an E36 M3, rear suspension from a Z3 coupled with a limited-slip differential.
The Concours however is not just all fun and games, it is definitely the most prestigious event on the Club calendar but it is also the most fiercely contested BMW competition off the race track. Jack Kaplan’s 2002 Turbo cleaned up nicely taking the following classes: d’Honneur Modified, Best Classic and Best 2002. It also happens to be the only running 2002 Turbo on the African continent. The folks I interacted with during and after the Concours reckon that it was the best Concours they attended, if the number of participants and spectators is anything to go by then I would have to agree. A hearty job well done to the organisers at the BMW Car Club Gauteng, l know that many are already starting to count the days to next year’s Concours.
By - Johann Venter Images - Racepics