Road America Fall Vintage Fest 2016 - Pt. 3 Some bigguns.

Our no-holds-barred, partially-in-your-face coverage of Road America's Fall Vintage festival continues today. Let's get to the continuing!

A whole tent full of identically similarly painted Mustangs. Somebody likes orange, because the size of the tent and field of cars this team brought to the event implies that they didn't go with that color just because they got a deal on a couple of gallons.

Easily mistaken for one of the above Mustangs, but no, that's a Mini Cooper. Anything you want to know about it can be found on the show card below.

A March Can-Am (isn't it?) car that seems to be at all the Road America events. Really pretty livery, too.

A perfectly-proportioned rear tire should have some sidewall. Wagon wheels are stupid.

For half a second, I thought this might be an Allitalia-liveried Lancia Stratos. But nope, it's an Alfa Romeo, which is still pretty cool, with its louvers and poking-out roll bar and whatnot.

The dash of the Alfa. The clock still works after all these years! Classic Italian workmanship.

Hey! An M Coupe! Gather round, children, and I'll tell you a story. After BMW made the Z3, which was a cute little convertible with a modest engine, a small group of engineers in BMW's M division re-designed it in their spare time and after hours. Their design added a roof, making it a classic shooting brake, and stuck into it their most powerful engine. After four appeals to the bosses, they were finally allowed to put it into production, so long as it shared as many parts as possible with the Z3, to keep costs down. So, all chassis parts from the windscreen forward, and lots of interior parts, are identical to the Z3. Everything behind that, less so. Adding the roof made the car 270% stiffer than the convertible Z3, and the massive rear fender flares butched up the looks a lot. Power for the U.S. version ranged from 240 horseponies to over 300, depending on production year. The shade of silver on the wheels of this one (assuming they're original) indicates that this is a pre-2001 version with "only" 240 horsepower in a 3000 lb car.

People either love or hate the design. A common nickname for these is "the clown shoe". I love these things, and a lot of the styling cues remind me of a Spitfire (you know - the old WWII fighter plane), which is no bad thing. Plus, its got the long nose, tall-in-the-back shape of 1960s hot rods that makes it look like it's always about to wheelie.

Worldwide, only five thousand of these were built over the entire production run. By way of comparison, ten thousand DeLoreans were originally made, so you're twice as likely to see one of those out on the road as you are an M Coupe. In America, where hatchbacks still make people wrinkle up their noses because we are morons, BMW had trouble selling the 2800 examples that were built for our market. Fast forward fifteen or so years and now prices are going way up, with very low very mileage examples worth more than when they were new. You can get a decent one with about 100,000 miles for maybe 20 kilobucks, at the moment.

So, in the end, it was a high performance car that only the engineers at BMW ever wanted to make, the bosses didn't know how to sell, Americans didn't like to look at, with few ever built. This is a recipe for an appreciating classic. Get yours today!

There's always room in the trailer for some goofy crap.


Steve Miller said...

Having had a Volvo 1800ES, I'm always warm to the form of a shooting brake though I have no idea of the derivation of the name.

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