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By Jan Wagner - syndicated weekly columnist/photojournalist
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San Diego BMW Club Car Show,

including Autobahn West

 

 
Classic, mid-engined BMW M1 racecar at Spanish Landing Park, San Diego

One of the most enjoyable reasons to drive certain vehicles is to be able to belong a club that unites their owners. Clubs range from those that are more activity-based, like those whose members go off-roading or racing, to clubs that are for drivers of vehicles of one particular make or type Ė like antiques or sportscars. These family-friendly clubs provide their members with a wide variety of social and recreational activities to occupy their leisure time hours. For instance, in previous columns I have documented many San Diego Miata Club activities, including group participation in SCCA autocrosses, relaxing drives to scenic locations both in and well beyond San Diego County and an annual holiday party with a fun gift exchange.

 

One of my first experiences with a car club was in 1979. Living and working in a very small city in rural Alberta at the time, I was bored after work. A major leisure time activity there was going to bars to drink, but I just wasnít into that. I hate the taste of beer. Looking for something else to do, I jumped at the chance when a co-worker invited me to a meeting of the Lethbridge Sports Car Club. Iím glad that I did, because I got actively involved in autocrossing and have been participating in car club activities ever since. Iíve usually belonged to more than one car club at a time, which has kept me quite busy.

The opportunity for membership in car clubs is a significant incentive to buy the brands or types of qualifying vehicles. Furthermore, a particular model of carís competitiveness in autocrossing also drives my car buying decisions to this day. I have made several good, long-time friends over the years thanks to my memberships in these clubs. However, I do wish that more single women would attend events too. We need to work on that.


Spanish Landing Park, San Diego

One of the annual events of the San Diego Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America is the ďJack Cavanaugh Memorial Clean Car Contest & Auction.Ē This yearís event was held on the grassy, beautiful San Diego waterfront grounds of Spanish Landing Park. Despite the somewhat overcast, windy weather, there was a good crowd present and there were plenty of interesting automobiles on display.


Auction for charity

There was a big auction of generously donated BMW-related merchandise. All proceeds went to benefit the United Ostomy Association. Quite a bit of money was raised, as the attendees frequently and enthusiastically raised the bidding quite high on items.

 

In past years Iíve participated with a vehicle of my own, but currently I do not have a BMW so I just attended as an interested observer. My main goal was to take pictures of some of the beautiful BMWs so that I could show them to you. Thanks to the AutoMatters Web site (www.AutoMatters.net) you are finally able to enjoy expanded numbers of these photos.

There was clearly a strong sense of pride of ownership common to the club members in attendance. The vehicles were immaculate, inside and out. It must have been very difficult for the judges to select winners.

While I was roaming around and exploring, I discovered Autobahn West. No, I didnít stumble upon a high speed Internet connection to Germany while I was at Spanish Landing Park. What I did do was run into a pair of autocrossing friends from way back.

One of them is a fellow by the name of Dan Tackett. He has been well known to, and respected by, the national BMW community for many years. Dan has been a car enthusiast for as long as Iíve known him, which is a long time. Back in the mid-80s he used to autocross a Mazda Rx-7 GSL-SE. At that time I had just moved to Southern California from Alberta, Canada, and I also owned the same model of car. We both autocrossed them here in local Sports Car Club of America events. One difference, however, was Danís formidable skill as a driver. Competing against him was a humbling experience. He was so good that, no doubt because of his results, our model of car was reclassified into a higher, more difficult local class (thanks Dan!).

Dan has long been known as a Ďgo-toí BMW person. He regularly makes trips to Germany, is a frequent and welcome visitor to BMW there, apparently has bought seven BMWs through their European delivery program and knows Germanyís famous Nurburgring race track very well. He has contributed several articles to the BMW Car Club of Americaís national magazine. The bottom line is that Dan knows and loves BMWs.


 Autobahn West locates high quality, used BMWs for clients

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he and another long-time San Diego autocrosser and BMW enthusiast Ė Tim Yost, have formed a partnership to locate and sell high quality, well cared for used BMWs (and other interesting vehicles). Their business is called Autobahn West. Thankfully these two guys are not at all like stereotypical car salesmen. Instead of using high pressure sales tactics and pushing marginally acceptable vehicles on prospective customers, their stated approach includes learning what their clients really want and then finding them gently used, higher end vehicles that precisely match what they are looking for. In the process, they apparently do just about everything humanly possible to check and verify that these cars are in top condition.

While Autobahn West is physically located nearby in El Cajon, thanks to the Internet they are not limited geographically to Southern California. So, if you are looking for a gently used BMW (which is their specialty) or other similarly interesting car, I recommend that you visit their Web site at www.AutobahnWest.com and check them out. I did.


                                                         

Part way through the charity auction, a tour vehicle stopped for a traffic light on the major street next to where the auction was taking place. No doubt the tour groupís guide pointed out the BMWs arrayed on the grass, because soon a spontaneous exchange of friendly banter between the two groups began, as the tour members waited for the traffic light to change. At some point someone from the BMW group said something that prompted the tour members to start singing loudly in response, to the sheer and obvious delight of all present. It was a wonderful and totally unexpected, shared social experience between strangers.

As always, please share your stories and send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com. Enjoy the archives and more at www.AutoMatters.net.  Drive safely and do join me again next time.

Copyright © 2006 Jan R. Wagner Ė #192 AutoMatters

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