We gathered in the cafeteria, waiting for our delivery specialists. While I was talking about Nikon lenses with the 5-Series Englishman, we were interrupted by a couple of the others in our group who had seen my car. They pointed me to it. It was sitting there all pretty, in a room of its own. I had to go see it. Then I came back to resume the lens discussion, only to be interrupted again. Jonathan, my delivery specialist told me that it was time to take possession of my car.
We stopped on the way to my private delivery room to get my luggage from the reception area, then continued to the little room. It housed my car, a table, and a series of cabinets with “stuff” associated with new car deliveries. I took a few pictures, then settled down with Jonathan to go through all the explanations and orientation. I was ahead of the game in that I had already read the owner’s manual I had downloaded from the BMW web site. Furthermore, already having had two other BMWs, I was quite familiar with the way things were done in Munich. I gave Jonathan the Florida license plate I brought up with me. He affixed it to the back of the M3, thereby making it official.
During the course of chit-chat with Jonathan, I found that he had delivered 7-Series BMWs to movie personalities Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner.
This process was much more thorough and much less choppy than dealer deliveries. After all, a salesman already has his commission in his pocket by the time the car is delivered. New car orientation is more of a pain in the ass—a necessary evil—than anything else. So, they tend to rush through it, often forgetting important things. Furthermore, there are things they don’t really know all that much about. Jonathan paired my Bluetooth cell phone with the car, and knew exactly why it was doing some unexpected things with the address book that it downloaded into the car. It was quickly apparent to me that dealing with a delivery specialist is the way to go.
I would later discover one more thing that really impressed me, which I didn’t immediately notice. More about that in a little while.
After taking delivery, I reluctantly left my car, which had 2 miles on the odometer, to have lunch with the group. The Z4 Couple, having no delivery to occupy their time, had gone over to the Zentrum to look around the museum. They were the only ones of the group I encountered when I got to the cafeteria. Jonathan told us to go to conference room “C” after we picked up our complimentary lunch. Then, he was off to find the rest of our group.
Once in our private lunch room, I took a picture of the Z4 Couple (below). When I did, Nancy asked, “What are you going to say about this picture? This is the Z4 Couple?” Yeah, Nancy. That sounds good to me!
Three of us started our lunches while, one-by-one, the rest of the deliverees returned. Jim, the driving instructor, rejoined us. Convivial chat centering on BMWs and racing ensued. Jim, of course, was the star of the show, given his monster truck and drift racing experience. He had actually driven a monster truck on I-85 one time! During the drift racing discussion, I asked him how many sets of tires he goes through in an afternoon on the track. The answer was, “Typically twelve sets of tires.”
After lunch, we said goodbye to The Z4 Couple, Bill and Nancy, who, having already done the Zentrum tour, were going to head back to Atlanta. Meanwhile, the rest of us were told to follow Jonathan over to the Zentrum in our new cars. It stopped raining long enough for it to have been a pleasant drive. When I glanced at the fuel gauge, I received another pleasant surprise, to which I had alluded earlier. As opposed to the typical urine specimen jar of gas that one typically receives in a new car delivered by a dealer, BMW had filled the tank.
Once there, we met our tour guide, Barbara. Barbara, a redhead, has been there about three years, as disclosed to this reporter in a later interview. When she got the job, her mother asked, “You mean you’re going to get paid for talking?” Barbara turned out to be a good tour guide. I was hoping that it would just be we Performance Center Delivery people who would be on the plant tour. Alas, that was not to be case—a Baptist church bus had pulled up and unloaded a busload for the tour at the same time.
We bid Jonathan farewell as we departed on the tour. As I thanked him for the smooth delivery, I advised him to apprise future deliverees that he had delivered cars to Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, and me!
Barbara and her dutiful security guard took our cameras and any cell phones that had cameras in preparation for the plant tour. We would also be given purse inspections by the stalwart security guard. Fortunately, I left my nice Gucci shoulder bag at home. We were issued radio headsets so we could hear Barbara’s narration above the din of the plant.
As for the plant tour itself, you really need to visit the plant to get a feel for the efficiency and cleanliness of it. BMW manufactures X5s and Z4s there. Before the Z4, they built Z3s there. A completely new production line was built for the Z4. Whereas the Z3’s manufacture was 25% automated, BMW has upped the automation percentage to 90% on the Z4. We did not tour the entire plant, seeing mostly X5 assembly. The robotics were impressive. The shop is non-union, but based on what we were told, the company treats its “associates” very well.
After the plant tour, which concluded at around 2:30 PM, we were at our leisure to tour the museum and, of course, the gift shop. I briefly did both. Among the items I bought at the gift shop was an umbrella. Yes, it was raining again! I also bought a baseball cap. In the South, you get demerits for driving around the countryside out of uniform, and a baseball cap is regulation gear. And thus, suitably equipped I left to bond with my new M3.
I’m now in Boone, NC. The drive up was nice, except for some thick fog in the mountains around Blowing Rock. (Apparently, the rock wasn’t blowing hard enough.) Instead of screaming up I-77 or I-26, I chose to take the back roads–the U.S. 21 variants (21, 221, 321, 421). This was partially to comply with break-in requirements. The new M3 owner is exhorted to stay below 106 mph and 5500 rpm for the first 1200 miles, and to vary the engine speed frequently. Another good reason to take the back roads is that they’re curvy, wet, and mountainous in many places. With a new M3, that appealed to me, even with North Carolina’s statewide 55 mph limit.
I came to Boone because it is central to some good hiking territory. Also, the Blue Ridge Parkway runs right through this area. One of these days, I’ll get around to doing some hiking. But first, I’m going to get to know the M3 very well. I might or might not be back with further stories from this trip, depending on whether anything interesting happens. So, I’ll sign off for now and hope that this story has been informative as well as entertaining.