Let's be honest – it’s not that difficult to make a modern BMW look good. A few bolt-ons and that's pretty much all she wrote. This is why I have tremendous respect for those who decide to go the other way – instead of taking the easy road and buying a new-ish Bimmer, then throwing on the dentist's starter kit (lowering springs, tinted windows, and mesh wheels), they look to the past for something special and bring it back to its former glory.
It takes balls, ovaries – whatever you've got down there – to forgo what everyone else is doing and enter the extremely painful but very rewarding world of restoration. It really isn't for the weak of heart or short of patience. That is why Ill take this opportunity highlight some of my choice vintage builds from BimmerFest West 2016.
This car was not only my favorite vintage BMW in the show area of BimmerFest, it was one of my favorite BMWs of the entire event! At first glance it certainly doesn't seem like much but the owner of this car actually put a lot of detail into purposefully creating the patina you see here. The 1600's paint was strategically sanded down to the metal, rust was "grown", and then the whole thing got a fresh clear coat to protect it all. Each rust patch took about a week to do but I really like the end result.
My favorite thing about the car is the collection of items on the roof rack. It looks like just a bunch of stuff from a retiree's yard sale but several items actually have meaning. Take the boat wheel for example; that belongs to the owner's great-grandpa and will soon be turned into a clock. There's a story behind everything on this car and I love it!
ALPINA B9 3.5
This was easily one of the most rare cars at the event. The Alpina B9 3.5 was only produced between 1981 and 1987 and during those six years only 577 total examples were built! The B9 3.5 was Alpina's take on the 5-series at the time. The sedan's stock 2.8-liter engine was removed in favor for a 3.5-liter (hence the name) six-cylinder engine. Alpina then modified the cylinder head, added high compression pistons, and an upgraded cam, bringing the total horses to 245. 245 horsepower is pretty respectable now – I'm sure it was absolutely nuts in the 80s!
2002 tii WIDEBODY
I dig when someone not only restores a vintage car but actually drives it. This 2002 tii was built for street and track driving. The custom widened flares, roll cage, MOMO steering wheel, and Corbeau seats were all clues this car spends a lot of time on race track asphalt. The biggest clue, though, was the fact the owner didn't seem to want to pop the hood. While I appreciate a bit of mystery in a build, I'm sure this car's track day opponents do not.
Yes, yes another 2002 is on the list, but can you blame me? It’s practically a cult car! I found this awesome restoration of a 2002 Turbo at the Toyo Tires booth and I fell in love. It is definitely not everyday you come across a 2002 Turbo, especially one practically in showroom condition. For those who don't know, the 2002 Turbo was actually BMW's first factory turbocharged production car. It used the same engine as the 2002 tii but with a lower compression ratio to handle the boost. The 2002 Turbo came out just before the oil crisis of the early ‘70s, so in an effort to be socially conscious, BMW ended production shortly after it started. That meant less than 1,700 2002 Turbos were built.
By the way, the crazy graphics and fender flares aren't custom. This is how the 2002 Turbo came from the factory! This car is pretty much a full factory restoration save for the awesome rally lights up front. I wish OEMs still had the balls to build cars like this!