Foundational differences: BMW car club has special appeal
(Editor’s note: During the month of February, the ClassicCars.com Journal presents a series of stories exploring car clubs and what they offer to the collector car community. If you have a car club story to share, see the note at the end of this article.)
There are a great many car clubs in the US and most offer many of the same things — a newsletter and perhaps a magazine, regional and national events, an online forum where people can interact, and meetings where members get together in person, usually over lunch or dinner, to discuss their favorite brand or model cars.
There is a single-marque car club out there that has all of those elements but also has an additional component that no other car club in the US has. That club is the BMW Car Club of America and that component is the BMW CCA Foundation.
The foundation is an organization that defines itself as a non-profit, tax-exempt charitable foundation created to establish programs to benefit the public in general, and BMW owners specifically. The vision is to be a living repository of BMW information and to benefit the motoring community through two ambitious initiatives.
One is the Tire Rack Street Survival program, which is operated in partnership with the Tire Rack, Michelin, the BMW CCA, the Porsche Club of America, and the Sports Car Club of America.
Street Survival is a teen driver-safety program, heavily subsidized by the BMWCCA Foundation, that offers an excellent way for new drivers to learn car control under adverse conditions and how to be the best drivers they can be. It is amazingly affordable and is available to any club member’s child who is 15-21 years old for a cost of only $95.
The other thing that the BMW CCA Foundation does is operate the actual BMW CCA Foundation headquarters. Located in Greer, South Carolina, just down the street from the BMW assembly plant, is the home of an extensive BMW-centric library, BMW company archives, a museum, and a great gift shop. (Multi-marque clubs, such as the Antique Car Club of America and the Classic Car Club of America, also have museums and archival libraries.)
Michael Mitchell, son of long-time BMW US media-relations executive Rob Mitchell, grew up around everything BMW. He was hired by the BMW CCA in 2001 as the curator of collections for what at the time was an idea for a foundation. The museum opened a year later, in April 2002, with two bookshelves holding books and magazines.
Since that time the foundation has grown into a 15,000-square-foot building containing more than 80,000 items — owners and service manuals, brochures, artwork, racing uniforms and bodywork, and more than 14,000 magazines. Since 2017, the museum area stages one major exhibition each year.
The first was “Heroes in Bavaria,” celebrating 75 Years of BMW Motorsport. In 2018 the exhibit was “Icon,” featuring the BMW 2002. Next was “Passion,” showcasing 50 years of the BMW enthusiast experience in North America and the 50th anniversary of the BMW CCA.
Opened in 2020 and running through this May is “Genesis,” the most comprehensive exhibit of early BMWs staged in North America and featuring 24 significant cars and motorcycles from the first 50 years of BMW history.
You can also take a virtual tour of the exhibit:https://bmwccafoundation.org/genesis-virtual-tour/
Opening in June will be an exhibit celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Z3 and featuring Z models from Z1 through Z8.
The next exhibit opening around June of 2021 is an exhibit to celebrate the 25th anniversary of z3. The exhibit will feature the Z roadster models from the Z1 thru the Z8.
These exhibits are of the highest quality and the Heroes of Bavaria was so impressive it was moved to the LeMay museum after its run at the foundation facilities.
All of the exhibits can be viewed online and through accompanying books written by former Bimmer magazine editor and BMW expert Jackie Jouret.
Finally, there is the Foundation gift shop. If you are looking for a special gift — a poster of a BMW racing team, signed by the drivers; BMW CCA clothing, old BMW factory brochures, BMW car models, Jouret’s books, etc., the foundation gift shop has it.
“We love the BMW CCA Foundation and really support it in several ways,” said Thomas Plucinsky, head of North American BMW group product communications. “We help the museum source cars for the shows, loan factory items for display, such as a currently a V10 F1 engine and a Ze body in white, and send them scores of documents and other items important to the history of BMW.
“We basically use the Foundation as an archive of the history of BMW in the US to give fans a place to see these items and learn about the BMW brand,” he added.
“You can learn so much about the brand and the passion for the brand by visiting, either in person, safety measures are in place, or online anytime and if you love or even just like BMWs, you owe it to yourself to do so.”
Whether you visit the foundation’s website or its museum in person, consider making a donation to help keep the lights on.
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