Located just a short distance from the BMW Museum and Welt (famous as the company's European delivery center) in Munich, Germany, is BMW Classic. According to the German automaker, "BMW Classic coordinates all activities that are connected with the company's varied and successful history covering everything from the historical archives, assortment of aeroplanes, communication, the museum and BMW's role in the international club scene." In a nutshell, BMW Classic is tasked with archiving, restoring and preserving the company's ninety-year manufacturing history.
Earlier this year, the BMW Classic Center opened its doors to the public offering a full range of classic parts, restoration services and vehicle authentication. While local dealerships will continue to stock late model parts and accessories, BMW Classic is tasked with keeping an inventory part supply for vehicles (including motorcycles) that are generally more than fifteen years old. Not only are 30,000-plus components kept on hand, but the tooling that is relevant for subsequent fabrication is held at the facility as well. In addition, there are on-site restoration services, using 100 percent original parts, upholstery and paint, at prices that are very competitive to local shops (especially when you consider that BMW Classic Center is a one-stop shop for a turn-key restoration process).
While the downstairs shop area is in a constant flurry of activity, the multi-story warehouse – where much of the really good stuff is stored – is unfortunately closed to the public. However, thanks to a special invite, Autoblog was recently escorted on a private behind-the-scenes tour of the facility.
Viewed from the outside, the building is nothing spectacular. Yet, hidden inside its concrete walls are several floors of immaculately restored and preserved engines, motorcycles and automobiles. In addition to some of the company's most classic offerings, such as the BMW 507 and BMW 328, we stumbled over Isetta microcars and mint-condition 2002 race cars. We found the famed E53 X5 fitted with a V12 LMR powerplant (the 700 horsepower SUV clocked a record-setting 7:49 lap around Nürburgring at the hands of Hans Stuck nearly a decade ago) and a pristine street-ready McLaren F1 (parked yards away from its race-ready F1 GTR siblings). Look past the James Bond's genuine E38 7 Series (with highly-custom rear-seat driving controls), and you will see the fluorescent orange nose of the 1972 BMW Turbo Concept – the vehicle that inspired the BMW M1, arriving just five years later.
Our favorite has got to be an unassuming 1987 E32 7 Series, (aka the "Goldfish" 767), fitted with a prototype 6.7-liter V16 rated at 408 horsepower. The only hint to its potency are custom gill-like air intakes on each rear quarter panel – its massive engine is so long that the engineers were forced to move its cooling system to the trunk.
Take a long look through our extensive gallery, and let us know which ones are your favorites.