Features: Peter Griffiths – Wish you were here!

If you’re not already familiar with the popular website which has a skull and cross-pistons for a logo then they are purveyors of news, reviews, a quality and trusted classifieds section, and a (roughly) monthly Sunday Service which is usually held at a venue which can hold a goodly amount of its readerships cars.

A week ago I attended the BMW HQ Sunday Service as I did last year, at which a McLaren F1 LM graced us with its presence. This year was the same arrangement by which you put your name on the list on the website and if you turn up in the morning and you’re not on the list then you’re not getting in, son. If you pass this simple test then you find yourself a place to park. If you get there early enough you can park on the upper level, even if you’ve a bog-standard euro-box, and find yourself parked next to some special metal.

I was duly directed towards the lower car park area. No problem really as there is usually some great metal down there once the top level fills up. Now I’ve no idea about you but I get just-above-averagely excited about these things, stopping short of butterfly stomach, but nonetheless you never know what’s going to turn up or happen. A nice burst of frisson of pleasure on a sunny Sunday morning.

Variety is the spice of life with the old school mixing amongnt the new boys

So I parked up next to a Honda Integra Type-R as the owner was going around polishing up the wheels and chatting with his companion. As I stepped out of the car it was nice to see a Hawk kit car in the shape of a Lancia Stratos which really would pass for the actual thing in most instances. Whatever you feel about kit-car imitations, they’re not my thing; it is good that they are somebody’s thing because it’s fun to pretend.

When myself and a couple of friends attended the Silverstone Sunday Service which was located at the Porsche Centre there was a small tour laid on around the museum section of the Centre. There was also a more interesting and nicely cheap opportunity to be a passenger in a Panamera Turbo and be taken for a ride around the slippery inner-track of the Porsche test circuit nestling in the crook of Chapel Curve. Unfortunately there is no facility for any such fun at BMW HQ but there is an indoor breakfast laid on and a small display of special cars inside and outside of the main building.

Starting from where I was it was only natural to take a trip towards the Mosler MT900 which had been directed into the same car park as myself and was gathering a crowd due, I’m sure entirely, to it’s being silver and shiny. This had nothing at all to do with its being two metres wide, almost five long, and headline-grabbing performance figures. I would hope no-one would begrudge anything like a Mosler attending an event like this, for me it embodies the spirit of the event which seems to me to have very much moved on from TVR and Porsche obsession and snobbery. It is the first Mosler which I’ve met in person and it made a fairly cold impression which sits alongside an admiration of its ability and quality.

It wouldn’t be a Pistonheads meet without a BMW E28 M5

Next up I proceeded to take stock of the lower car-park to check what was around and looked likely to make an early exit. You are never going to see everything that turns up at a Sunday Service because while you’re in one section something might come and go. Apart from that you also have the opportunity to chat with the owner about their pride and joy. This is my favourite part of the day because they can divulge information and show off to their hearts content in mutual understanding that you would do the same about your own car.

A tastly modded E21 hides amongst supercars

Later during the day I was admiring a very original Mini Cooper S Mk II and taking what nobody would consider to be arty or considered photographs when the owners friend offered to open the bonnet for a closer look in comparison to a Vauxhall-engined (spit) Mini two spaces down. How could I refuse? The old thing had been in the same hands from six years old and had my favourite used patina to it, not dirty, not damaged and not rotting, just nicely dulled and it seemed content as a car. The owner appeared and proceeded to open the boot and show me all the extras which the Special Projects section of Mini had welded in, removed, and made room for. I made the requisite noises which are expected of a person who knows little to nothing about what the other person is saying yet is genuinely interested.
This was all going on at the upper level where there were no less than four E46 M CSLs parked up side-by-side and back-to-back alongside four E30 M3s of various iterations, at least two Sport Evo models and one very original ‘base’ M3 which was particularly refreshing to see. On the same row as these more modern marvels were two fantastic representatives of rock’n’roll’s finest decade in the form of a big black 5 series and a playdoh-yellow ‘Batmobile’ 3.0 CSL which sat next to each other as incongruously as Keith Moon and Harold Wilson as if they had become firm friends.

Bavarian Heaven? A gathering E46 CSls & E30 M3s

Originality has its place

This was when it became time to meet up with fellow tweeter @PawnSacrifice aka Matt Biggs who described himself as the thuggish chap in the red t-shirt and so two twits collided in reality and took a fresh tour of the place. We took to admiring a 997 GT2, a personal favourite, and his very own BMW Z4 with tasteful mods and performance upgrades with which he had arrived early enough to park on the top level with his similarly be-carred friends.

This rendezvous was a new experience, personally, but not one I was worried about what with being fairly secure in my sanity and enthusiasm about all things automotive. Many conversations went unfinished and cut short on the understanding that they would be one day, and we just blethered on and on in the company of a lot of fine metal and lots of other motorheads. It was, in confession, a relief that Matt wasn’t a nutter and it certainly bodes well for future motoring antics. Not that I’d be able to keep up with him at all! This is what twitter and the interweb is all about, the conduit for bringing together similarly enthusiastic people who can reasonably argue the virtues of different brake-pads or who was the greatest BTCC driver of the mid-nineties.

Two Bavarian classics, with one thing in common: Both owners have unmatched enthusiam

The Internet is a weird and wonderful place which has revolutionised my personal experience of motoring, let alone life itself, and the motoring community is exploiting it to its fullest. Without it I wouldn’t be represented on this site, and you wouldn’t have seen these cars which were present a week ago, which in turn wouldn’t have been gathered. Long may it continue to expand and enlighten!

Almost perfection?

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