TACH Visits the BMW Museum
15 October 1998
Spartanburg, SC-October 7, 1998
One of the benefits of traveling to motorsports events around the country is the ability to visit the various automotive museums around the country. My route to Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans required that I travel through Spartanburg, SC. For those of you who follow automotive news then you already know that Spartanburg is the United States home for assembling the BMW Z3 roadster.
The architecture of the BMW museum or zentrum, is a sweeping crescent shaped, floor-to- ceiling glass building. From the interstate the building is an eye-appealing landmark of construction.
The history display of BMW's involvement in automotive history is presented in small but informative doses. The companies' involvement in the development of motorcycle, aircraft and automotive powerplants is put together in a snapshot chronological fashion. For the engineering enthusiast the visit will not be totally fulfilling. On the other hand for the person who knows little about Bavarian Motor Works the museum succeeds in informing John Q.Public of not only the engineering abilities but also the vast global network that makes up BMW.
The obvious centerpiece of the visit is the 15 minute virtual factory tour of the production assembly line of the Z3 roadster. The three screen movie theater, veteran cinerama fans will be in heaven, is strategically placed so that upon exiting the area you walk straight into a fully assembled Z3. The sales pitch during the movie is subtle and is neatly intertwined with engineering images of perfection. The perfect advertisement.
For those that remember the James Bond movie "Golden Eye" the original Z3 (chassis 001) ,that Pierce Brosnan drove, is proudly displayed requite with the license plate "007." I asked the museum host, with tongue firmly in cheek, to point out the various accouterments of machine- guns and laser-guided missiles that Bond used in the movie. She informed me that several "kit" Z3's were used during the movie. Not knowing if this was true or not I politely nodded my head in agreement.
Moving on from the James Bond car to the BMW engine display is a welcomed change. Each powerplant is displayed with the intended purpose as well the designer's history and evolutionary progress of the powerplant.
All in all, on a scale of 1-10, the display is an 8. While I would not drive 100 miles out of my way to make a return trip anytime soon, I would recommend that if you are in the Spartanburg area a quick side trip is worth the time. Admission to the "Zentrum" is a reasonable $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for senior citizens, students and BMW owners as well as BMW CCA members (proof required). The center is open Tuesday-Saturday 9:30am-5:30pm. On Thursday the hours are extended to 9:00pm. Tours of the assembly plant itself are not available to the public, however you can write to make an inquiry at P.O.Box 11000, Spartanburg, SC 29304.
David Treffer -- The Auto Channel