We only did one event this year. We had planned on doing the March Augusta event and then catching the December Charleston event when the tour looped back our way. Didn’t do it in Charleston, but had we known that 2008 was going to be the last year BMW did the Drive we would have made the effort.
High Tech Registration - But the execution left a lot to be desired though. First the touch screen is not very precise, usually the cursor showed up about a 1/2 inch below where you pressed your finger. You enter your name and then you are presented with several possibilities as to who you might be. Only one matched both my first name and my last name, so I picked that. The next screen showed my name and address and asked for me to re-enter my phone numbers. When I did and hit enter, it said reservation not found. The kid behind the desk said put your cell phone number in the home phone spot and vice versa. That worked. (03/35/08) A Few Good Cars Await - The event starts at 9:00 AM and when we arrive at 9:30 there is no crowd. There was a nice selection to pick from, but I went straight for the one car I knew I wanted to drive. Any thing after that would be gravy. (03/35/08) Strapped In - The fellow put us in our first car of the day offered to take our picture once we got loaded up. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, we let him, even though I was ready to go - now. Note the big fat steering wheel... (03/35/08) M3 Coupe - 414HP V-8. Yikes! This car should be illegal, but I'm glad it is not. Just the exhaust note alone is enough to make the hairs on your arm stand up. Not deep throaty Detroit rumble, but raspy, race car purposeful. One suggestion, when you mash the go pedal to the floor you should already have your head back on the headrest or it will be snapped back to it. This is as close as you can get to experiencing a catapult launch from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier on land, unless you drag race funny cars on the weekend. This is not us in the car, but the couple that drove it after us. (03/35/08) Dilithium Crystals - These fellows just came back from driving the M3 Coupe. The one guy was explaining to the other how at about this point on the car, to people standing on the side of the street, it starts to get out of focus and streaky looking just like the Starship Enterprise jumping to warp speed. (03/35/08) X3 3.0i - After the thrill ride of the M3 Coupe Donna asked the car assignment person for something a little slower for our second loop. He had just the thing, an overly tall, bloated little vehicle that rides on a chassis that is closely related to the M3, an X3. If any two vehicles built off the same platform can be any different, I'd like to know about them. (03/35/08) Your Hatch Is Open - After a mile or two in the X3 I noticed that bug looking thing in the center of the gages. Looks like a door is open warning light, so I pulled into a bank parking lot and checked all the doors, they were closed. The rear hatch segment is brighter than the rest, so I checked it too. It looked a little open, but I could move it one way or the other, so I finished the loop without mishap. (03/35/08) 650i Coupe - Car number three was BMW's big Coupe, comfy with gobs of power. If I traveled to and from work via the Autobahn this would be my commuter car. (03/35/08) Viridis Vespula - For some reason the mascot for the local Single A baseball team the Greenjackets showed up. He handed out 2008 schedules and wandered around giving people high fives. (03/35/08) Z4 3.0i - Our fourth ride of the day was this Z4. It was a bit chilly still at 11:30, so we were the first to drop the top. This car had an automatic transmission, there was a 6-speed version around somewhere too, but we never did drive it. (03/35/08) Pop-Up Video - The Z4 didn't have an I-Drive, but it did have something as equally confounding. You had to figure out how to navigate the navigation system and the terrestrial & satellite radios with the standard set of the typical BMW cryptic sound system buttons. Note the fine layer of pine pollen with greasy fingerprint accents. (03/35/08) 528xi Sedan - Although the X3 we drove earlier was the "slowest" vehicle we drove, this 528, our car #5, felt slower. It wasn't though because our friend Carol got about a 5 minute head start on us and we caught up to her less than half way around the loop. The traffic lights probably helped too. (03/35/08) Caught Ya - Not only did we catch Carol, by we passed right on by her. We didn't get too far in front of her though because a couple of miles down the road there was some bridge construction that closed one lane. (03/35/08) Zoom-Zoom - We had quite a Master's Miata Club contingent show up. The Green car is Carol's, the blue RX-8 is Kurt's and you can't see Stacey's car because he had to park out along the driveway. (03/35/08) You Again? - It was lunchtime and there were more people driving, so when Carol went out for a second loop, this time in a 650i Coupe, we had little to choose from, so we picked our little friend here. Car #3, the 3.0i Z4 we drove a couple laps ago. (03/35/08) Motor Home - This was not a BMW, but the home away from home for the crew that are traveling the country. I didn't walk around back, but I'm betting that there were pictures from 1997 through 2001 on that side of the motor home. (03/35/08) Big Top - The food has always been good at Taylor BMW, but the last couple of years it has almost been worth it just to come over and eat. (03/35/08) Full Lot - At around 12:30 they stopped sending cars back out on the course. They were gathering them all up for the Survivor's Drive. They put a breast cancer survivor in every car and gave them a police escorted lap. (03/35/08) Survivor's Drive - The cars are all lined up and ready to roll on a police escorted lap. While I think this is a great idea, the timing was wrong. Lining up the drivers and getting them in cars and waiting for the Sheriff's Deputies took a 2 hour chunk out of the middle of the day and prime driving time. Next year I hope they do it first thing in the morning or last thing of the day. (03/35/08) 750Li - This was our car #6 for lap number seven. Of the three variations of the 7 Series on hand this was the least desirable from the folks there to drive. Hard to believe that a $79k automobile would be undesirable, but everyone wanted to drive the $122k 760Li with it's big V12 engine or the Alpina B7 with it's supercharged 500HP V8 and the price so high that if you have to ask, you can't afford it. (03/35/08) 535xi Sports Wagon - For our last loop of the day we hopped in this car. It rode nice, had plenty of pep and there was lots of room in the back to tote stuff. If we lived in an Estate instead of a subdivision we would be proud to park this in the circular gravel drive in front. (03/35/08) Like This - Didn't drive this one either because of time constraints, but it is still my favorite BMW. The M3 is awesome, but overkill, this car with the sport package would be perfect for everyday driving (03/35/08) 1 Eye - This is the headlight of a 135i. I wanted to drive one of these but it wasn't available yet for the Ultimate Drive. The dealer did have two on the lot that you could look at, or buy if you were so inclined. I think I would spend the extra five grand and get the 335i Coupe which I think is better looking. (03/35/08) Signature Car - This year's Signature Car was an X6 which also wasn't available to drive. It is so new the dealer didn't even have one on the lot. If you do the Ultimate Drive after March 25th you can find my and Donna's signature on the center of the "trunk" lid. (03/35/08)