Category Archives: Information

BMW To Unveil World Premiere Concept Car at the Monterey Car Week 2017

After an eighteen year hiatus, the ‘8 Series’ name returns to the BMW portfolio with the BMW Concept 8 Series shown on the Concept Lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this year. The BMW Concept 8 Series serves as a preview of a forthcoming BMW model – the new BMW 8 Series Coupe, slated for launch in 2018.

“The number 8 and cars like the Z8 Roadster and i8 have represented the pinnacle of sports performance and exclusivity at BMW,” explains Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG Harald Krüger. “The forthcoming BMW 8 Series Coupe will demonstrate that razor-sharp dynamics and modern luxury can go hand-in-hand. This will be the next model in the expansion of our luxury-car offering and will raise the benchmark for coupes in the segment. In the process, we will strengthen our claim to leadership in the luxury class.”

The BMW Concept 8 Series reveals much of what is yet to come. “The BMW Concept 8 Series is our take on a full-blooded high-end driving machine,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “It is a luxurious sports car which embodies both unadulterated dynamics and modern luxury like arguably no other. For me, it’s a slice of pure automotive fascination.” The BMW Concept 8 Series makes its North American debut after being first shown at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in late May. The BMW Concept 8 Series will be shown publicly at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering on Friday August 18th and on the Concept Lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday August 20th.

The aforementioned World Premiere BMW Concept vehicle also previews a new model that will come to market in 2018. The World Premiere BMW Concept will have its only North American public showing on the Concept Lawn of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday August 20th.

BMW will again participate in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion this year campaigning two historic cars driven by notable drivers. The famous 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL #25 will, one last time, be driven by former BMW of North America President Ludwig Willisch while the 1972 ALPINA 2002ti will be driven by none other than Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group Head of Design.

Why I’m Onboard with Performance Hybrids

The other day I had the good fortune of being able to drive an i8. It’s not the most expensive car I’ve ever driven, but far more exclusive than anything I get a chance for a go in. Okay, so I didn’t drive it that far. About two miles to be precise. I did, however, ride in it for about 20 miles. Thing is, I only needed those two miles to know that cars like the i8, these ‘performance hybrids,’ do indeed work.

Let’s talk about this because that’s what it feels like when stabbing the accelerator. Not all hybrids are your neighbor’s Prius, that is, cars that use electricity for the sole purpose of achieving higher fuel mileage. Those cars make such little horsepower and rely mostly on a washing machine of a little combustion engine. Not the i8.

The i8 has a much more powerful electric motor, making 129 BHP. Couple that with a 228 BHP 1.5L three-cylinder fed by almost 2 bar of boost, and you’re looking at 357 combined peak horsepower. The 129 from the electric bit is so substantial that when tottering around in EV mode with no gasoline being consumed, it has plenty of pickup and gets up to speed as quick as realistic necessity beckons.

Flick the shifter into the left position for Sport mode, and it all changes. The three-cylinder comes to life and- actually, let’s talk more about that engine. Sure, it’s three cylinders, and that sounds lame. But it doesn’t sound bad. From the outside it’s akin to a certain horizontally-opposed air-cooled German motor with it’s clatter emanating from the engine compartment. It’s really not as bad as you’d think. In the cabin, it’s no match for a V8, sure, but it does it’s best sportscar sounds rather well. Anyway, once the petrol engine ignites, this is a seriously quick car. About as fast as the M2 flat out. But the character of this power unit is in the low and mid range.

See, gas engines on their own make peak power at a high rpm. That’s always been their deficiency. BMW classics like the S54 from an E46 M3 is a screamer, but you have to rev it for it to deliver. Down low, where you actually drive everyday, it doesn’t have much.

Turbocharging somewhat solves this. Compressing air into an engine allows it to develop peak torque at incredible low RPM, usually under 2,000 even, to increase driveability and makes for an encompassing flat, power curve. But, turbocharging  introduces lag, the time that’s needed for the turbo’s to spool up and deliver that air when flooring it. Having driven cars that have been said to ‘virtually eliminates turbo lag,’ no, they haven’t; they hide it through clever automatic gearboxes. Lock a new 330i in gear manually below 3k and floor it. Yes, that’s lag for you.

This is where electrifying works. And also where it doesn’t. In a full electric car, you get this immense torque and throttle response, creating an almost ‘whiplash’ effect when nailing it. A BMW i3 even does it. Travel under 30, hit the electron pedal, and smash your passenger’s skull back into the head-restraint. But, electric cars have the disadvantage of gearing, being only a single speed. This righteous momentum cannot be maintained. Even a Tesla Model S  P-Whatever can’t maintain the acceleration it has to 60.  That’s why McLaren’s and such post trap speeds 10 MPH+ faster through a quarter mile, even if they’re identical time wise. Cars like that catch up quick after 60MPH.

So here’s why the i8 and it’s propulsion system works. By combining gas and electric, you get the best of both. That turbocharged engine’s problem of lag? Because the electric bit makes peak torque at zero RPM, and has instant response, there is none. Zilch. Even in a higher gear, say fourth at 30, foot the floor and it’s gone. And about electric motors running out of puff at higher speeds? The combustion engine keeps pulling hard so there is no real drop-off in the rate of acceleration. It keeps pulling and pulling. The six-speed auto ‘box also receives praise for it’s quick shifts and responsiveness, keeping the engine right in the power band to ride the wave of thrust.

Okay, it doesn’t have the zing and reward at the top end like that mentioned S54 gives, but for a modern, tiny turbocharged engine, it’s pretty damn good. It makes for a much more interesting driving experience than a just another humdrum appliance moving you. This is more like a hi-po microwave on the nuke setting.

Of course, I still prefer a high-revving naturally aspirated engine. But how many of those are left? Ferrari and Lamborghini discounted, there’s not many. As far as the new breed of small-capacity turbo engines go, this improves upon them. Let’s make it easy here: in the case of the i8, electrification improves the driving experience. Think of it as a bargain Porsche 918. They’re both hybrids, made of carbon, and four-wheel drive. One is a tenth of the price though.

So when I read rumors that the future M-cars will all be performance hybrids, I am welcoming the stage with open arms. If it’s done right, it’s exciting as heck. And I can’t imagine how much fun it’d be to, say, add 200 horsepower of electricity to BMW’s twin-turbo v8. I’m onboard with the notion of the performance hybrid. As long as they come with manual transmissions…

My Buddy Found this in an M3’s Oil Pan…

You don’t need to be a Nobel Laureate to know that E46 M3’s have a few issues. Let’s see, there’s Vanos, rod bearings, and cracked subframes to name a few. But when these cars work, oh man are they the bestest. I wrote that last sentence like a twelve-year-old, because that’s what an E46 M3 does to me; They make me feel like a kid again. I get all giddy inside and all I want to do is put my hands all over it and go fast. It’s one of the car fountains of youth. I’ll own one someday.

It was yesterday, however, when my friend on the other side of the country set about to take up a mountainous task: Changing an E46 M3’s rod bearings. It’s not his own car, but a friend’s. He used his own as a guinea pig to rather good success, as so he told. And now he’s applying his talents to another specimen. Hope he’s getting somewhat compensated for his journey to Mordor…But, this article isn’t about rod bearings though.

So I’m at work when he sends me the photo above. The caption? “This was in Harper’s oil pan…” Yikes. Doing the rod bearings does require dropping the oil pan. Normally, you should only have oil in there, not metal parts. These look like 9mm bullet casings though. What could they be from?  My friend has pointed to the Vanos system for fault. The car in question was bought with the prior owner stating that the Vanos had been replaced. Why was it replaced? Likely because it exploded, made obvious by the loose gaggle of parts. But, they didn’t fish out the parts that grenaded, just put new in. What are those metal pieces exactly? Could be a roller bearing in the oil pump or drive disc.

Either way, the amazing thing is that the car is fine. Who knows how long this debris has been in the pan. A win on BMW’s part for putting a shield in the pan to prevent the oil pump from sucking it up and distributing throughout the engine. That would’ve made things go bang.

I’m not saying everyone should drop their oil pans just to see if they have metal bits in there. Or you could drop your oil pan and find a gold Rolex. But maybe use it as a buying lesson. The prior owner DIY’d the Vanos, so when buying an E46 M3, make sure you really trust them as a mechanic. If the owner says he did “everything himself” but acts like a clown school dropout, maybe it’s best to walk away. The M3 in question though, it’s not giving up that easily!