European Delivery, April 2002

In April of 2002, my wife Molly and I flew to Munich to take delivery of her new BMW, a 2002 325ci. The car is equipped with the sport package, premium package, Xenon headlights, Harmon Kardon premium audio, heated seats, Navigation system, and a manual transmission. The color is topaz blue with tan leather interior.

I have structured this writeup to include a blow-by-blow account of our trip. All pictures are links that if you click on them will open up a larger version of that picture. Words that are links will bring up a tip related to that thought or statement I'm making.

For more information on European Delivery, I highly suggest you visit Gary Ray's excellent website. He has a great section detailing the cost savings associated with European Delivery as well as his own writeup on his trip to get his 330i with his wife.
Gary Ray's Euro Delivery website

April 20th
After leaving Chicago on a Lufthansa Airbus A340 at 4:30 the previous day, business class thanks to my wife's frequent flier miles from work, we arrived at 8AM Munich time. This picture actually was taken on a different day, because that Saturday was cold and rainy. We managed to get information in the airport and figured out how to take the train to our hotel, the Hilton in downtown Munich. It was about a 45 minute train ride to Rosenheimer Strasse where the hotel was. After checking in, we took showers to try to feel a bit refreshed from the 8 hour plane ride. Both of us almost slipped stepping out of the bathtub. Then we took the train to MarienPlatz, only a few stops away to see the scenic downtown area. It was nice enough, but the weather wasn't cooperating. That area of town has the beautiful historic section but in the surrounding streets you will find many nice, expensive boutique shops. Lots of famous brand names and famous stores. We didn't think the prices were good enough to warrant buying anything, but it does provide for alot of window shopping. We tried to go to the world famous HaufbrauHaus beer hall but it was mobbed. Not a single open seat at any table, and it was deafeningly loud and SMOKY! We skipped it for another day. After a lunch of pizza that was o.k., we staggered back to the hotel unable to hang on any longer without a nap. This was of course a bad move and added to our jetlag later.

The rest of the evening was uneventful. Ate at a restaurant down the street that served chicken.

April 21st

Waking up at 2:30AM with nothing to do but watch the only channel in English (CNN) and then not being able to fall asleep until around 5AM sucks big time. When we finally got moving around 11AM, we took the train to Dachau, the concentration camp. The train ride was easy enough to get connections to and then we had to take a short bus ride to the camp. We really were beginning to find the trains easy to figure out, despite the language barrier. The camp was of course sombering, but interesting. It wasn't nearly as bad (if there are degrees of bad with concentration camps) as Auschwitz. I believe Auschwitz was one of the ones where the most people were killed. Dachau was more for political prisoners although near the end of the war it had all kinds of people there. A film is shown at fairly regular times, in English and German.

When we came back and got some lunch, we discovered that we had alot of time left that afternoon so we went to see the BMW museum. Again the train took us right there. The stop is for the Olympic Park. Once you exit the train station you can't miss the BMW towers dominating the sky. The museum was kind of a disappointment for me. I was expecting more classic BMW's, especially race cars. However, the museum is really geared toward the everyday, non-enthusiast. Most displays have audio recordings where you can plug your headphones in and hear an audio track (in English) explaining things like how anti-lock brakes work, why BMW's are safe, blah blah. Booooring. They did have an '02 Turbo, M1 procar, 3.0CS, and some pre-WWII BMW's. The format of the museum is.....interesting also. Its a big circle that spirals upwards. You have to see it to understand it. The gift shop is fairly good though. Lots of neat posters (that I wish now I had purchased), die cast models, old brochures (I picked up a dealer brochure on the euro E12's that was neat), and post cards galore. Prices are reasonable.

The rest of the evening was spent preparing for getting to the European delivery pickup center the next morning. As it would turn out, we didn't get there until later than expected because the hotel employees gave us directions to the Munich BMW dealership instead of the Euro delivery center.

April 22nd

The big day! And we were exhausted from another night of no sleep and watching CNN! We got moving around 9AM but like I said, the hotel employees when I asked them where the street was that is in the European Delivery packet, directed us to the BMW of Munich dealership. We took the train there and realized the mistake when we exited the train station. Oh well, we had planned to come to that dealership anyway so I could grab some German BMW brochures and see what they had as far as cool accessories. I grabbed some brochures, but I ended up getting more later at the European delivery center. And they had some cool clothes, official BMW jackets. Only 400 euros (roughly $360 US)! What a bargain. I could get a nice North Face jacket for that in the US. No thanks.

When we finally arrived at the Euro Delivery center (about a two block walk from the train station) it was around 11AM. We were escorted in by the receptionist who took our passports and the letter that was in the Euro Delivery confirmation packet. We went upstairs to the cafe where they were very helpful and helped ourselves to some food. Even though we asked for "stillwasser" (still water, tap water), we got something else. After about a half hour, a guy came out to greet us and explain everything about the car. I had been telling my wife (and other friends of ours who were curious about euro delivery) that you're instructed in how to operate the features of the car by a friendly BMW representative who speaks perfect English. This guy was definitely friendly, but his accent made his English hardly comprehensible and he was very strange. I'm not even joking that he would explain each thing no less than THREE TIMES! We sat at the table with him while he drew out directions to the BMW factory (where we had been yesterday to the museum) so we could get to our factory tour that began at 1PM that afternoon. Then he drew out the directions again. Then he did it one more time. Then after discussing some of the insurance paperwork that comes with the car for driving in Europe, he gave us directions again. And we hadn't even seen the car yet!

After a while, we were led into a clean, garage type room where my wife's car was. It was beautiful, and quite stunning in the topaz blue. We had purchased a German NAV CD from the Roundel classifieds so he loaded it into the trunk Nav CD deck. I wanted no part in listening to him any longer, plus since the car is a coupe, I could argue that I didn't want to stuff myself in the back seat so I'd let them talk. So while I took pictures and filmed my wife in the car, he then proceeded to point and spit out random sentence fragments while he tried to explain how to work the Nav. I believe she said everything he said was punctuated with the phrase "Zee.... you just punch it, Ja!?". Oh boy.

We only drove a few miles up the road to the BMW factory where we had been the day before to see the museum. This day we had our factory tour, promptly at 1:15PM. The drive over in the car was great, but short. We would get more time with the car the next day. We met the tour guide and the other tour participants (maybe 20 people) in the reception of the BMW Museum. This tour was one of the most excellent parts of our visit to Germany. I had set it up a week after we ordered the car in January. I had to call a number from BMW NA and leave a message with my name and email address, and the date of our visit. The tour guide first brought us in a room where we were told we could not take pictures and we had to wear lab coats. You're given ear piece's with receivers that you put in the lab coat pocket. The receivers pick up a signal from the tour guide's microphone. It gets alot of interference from the metal in the factory walls which blasts static in your ear, but it still helps you to hear the tour guide in the loud factory. So anyway, we began the tour in the stamping plant. It was fascinating to see these huge machines, nearly 30 feet tall, stamping flat sheets of steel into 3 series trunk lids (this factory produces the 3 series). Next, we saw the unibody chassis being constructed out of other pre-stamped pieces by robots. The robots are massive, and very powerful. They lift the completed chassis after it is welded together like they're lifting a pack of gum. I won't give away much more of the tour, but I'd just like to say that my favorite part was seeing the completed body of the car come down assembly line and mounted on a completed drivetrain. The amount of precision and synchronization required to get the right drivetrain with the customer's engine choice, transmission choice, suspension (sport or normal), tires with wheels, etc to mate with the right body style, interior colors and trim choices, at that exact moment in the factory, is truly spectacular. Its even more spectactular when you consider the fact that each 3 series (at least in Europe) has nearly 2000 configuration options on it!

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