The Vintage is a BMW gathering of classics cars. It happens every year around Memorial Day weekend. 2016 was its 13th installment. This year also marked BMW's 100th Year Anniversary, and we wanted to commemorate it accordingly. Rather surprisingly we decided not to go, due to work schedules, and planning, and recent home purchase. We found many excuses not to do it. This year the event was going to be in Ashville, NC slightly closer to home than previous years. However, one night we were watching a show on TV, that featured America's largest home, built by George W. Vanderbilt – the Biltmore, which ironically was located in Ashville, NC. And just like that we were ready to go!
We took this trip with fellow TexFest-ers and our fearless leader (Sherman) - i mentioned him earlier in my other article about my E28 M5. We were able to turn this not only into a car show event, but also a family trip, and that made it special with multitude of memories along the way. In addition, the drive included driving one of the most demanding roads in the country, which was a great opportunity since this year our home gathering Tex Fest (later on that), was on the other end of the country at the Three Sisters, in the Texas Hill Country. What a great way to commemorate our favorite brand!
Earlier in the first day of our trip I devised a game, where I played a dollar on the lottery in every state we passed. What I learned was that Alabama and Mississippi don’t play the lottery, I have some really stout friends, and my wife is a trooper. This wasn’t my first long ride in the M5, however this was my first time to break-down. I lost my clutch 30 miles south of Tuscaloosa, AL, 8 hours on the road. It turned out to be the clutch slave cylinder. Sherman with his camaraderie and experience jumped in my car and rev-matched it, while I drove his E28 M5 for the next 60 miles. Meanwhile, we were looking for a slave in stock. My trooper-of-a-wife found a clutch slave in Hoover, AL. From buying it, to installing it and cleaning up, it took us less than 30 minutes. From our rough math, Sherman took 15 minutes to install it. That has to be a record of some sort. We were lucky! And no I didn’t win the lottery.
Our plans were to pick-up a third car on the way up, so to re-pay my friend’s helpfulness we detoured to Nashville, while our wives took my recently fixed car and continued their way to Chattanooga, TN. That first day our total driving time was over 15 hours. In Chattanooga, the next morning we headed out to the Smoky Mountains to hit the Tail of the Dragon, through rain and fog, while more fellow TexFest-ers joined us on our journey.
The Vintage is one of the largest gatherings on the East Coast for vintage BMWs, and a lot of my cyber fellow enthusiasts join each other for some long weekend shenanigans including but not only driving. This year we were accompanied by rain, but as the Festmeister – Scott Sturdy said – Unless your car is made out of sugar, you'll be fine. And we were indeed fine, up in the mountains in Hot Springs, NC surrounded by cars from all BMW classic chassis.
This was my second to the Vintage, but yet it was unique experience, since I was also able to put a lot of faces to names. I was pleasantly surprised how many people knew me too. Apart from our little breakdown, the S38 under the hood performed flawlessly as a cruiser and as a beast all the way to the redline. It made me proud that I was able to build that engine single handedly over the winter months in my garage. The car transformed 180 degrees. This 2400 mile trip was the ground proof of that. And of course, we didn’t miss paying homage to George W. Vanderbilt’s amazing 226-room home.
Our trip started in Houston on May 19th and we passed through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. We left North Carolina on Sunday May 22nd to head back home to Texas. My best friend who also happens to be my wife, was my co-pilot.