23 September 2022

BMW M turns 50 this year and Canberra fans are beaming

| James Coleman
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BMW cars

Don’t go changing: the familiar face of BMWs. Photo: John Havelock.

Some letters make a car sound sporty just by tacking them onto the end of the name. R, for instance. Or S. Even T and V. Although it may not sound very impressive at face value, M is undoubtedly on the list.

Car enthusiasts the world over have come to hold ‘M’ in high regard ever since 1972, when BMW established ‘BMW Motorsport GmbH’. Its mission was simple: make BMW cars and motorbikes go faster. It’s still doing it 50 years later.

The Canberra region is marking the birthday with two celebrations, starting with German Auto Day on Sunday, 25 September.

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Hosted by the Mercedes-Benz Car Club ACT at Queanbeyan Park, the annual event draws hundreds of cars from all the great car manufacturers of Germany, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen. But this year, there’ll also be a unique display to celebrate 50 years of BMW M, made up of cars from across Canberra and beyond.

M will also receive its own dedicated display at the Canberra BMW dealership in Phillip from October, spanning generations of the cars.

“We will have a rolling display of special BMW M cars during the month of October,” Canberra BMW Marketing Manager Izi Tanewski says.

“The display will include all six generations of M. We invite everyone to come in and take a look.”

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Ian Oliver has collected cars for decades and his garage currently includes an eclectic collection of brands from Rolls Royce to Ford and even an amphicar. But one attribute ties them together – achievement of some level of greatness on the racetrack.

Naturally, there are two M cars in there, starting with the oldest one in Canberra, a 1986 E30 M3 sedan. He’ll be contributing this to the dealership display.

“This is the very first M-series car to be introduced to Australia, nicknamed the ‘Screamer Beamer’,” he says.

“The idea behind the first BMW M3 was to make a racing sedan available as a street version. It became one of the cars to win the most motorsport titles in the world, especially in Europe.”

His particular example has lived most of its life in Canberra, after originally travelling from the factory to America in left-hand drive format. A previous owner imported it and had it professionally converted locally. Ian bought it about five years ago.

“It’s not a restored car – it’s been extremely well looked after, to the point it has all the original decals.”

His other M is a 2005 E60 M5, purchased brand new from the local dealership. It’s powered by a V10 engine similar to what BMW was putting in their Formula-One cars at the time.

“For a while, it held the record as the world’s fastest four-door sedan, an appealing characteristic for guys into performance cars.”

The official 0 to 100 km/h acceleration figure is 4.7 seconds, but subsequent testing revealed an even faster 4.1 seconds. The top speed is 305 km/h with the M Drivers package.

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Ian says driving them around Canberra never fails to draw attention.

“It’s a real conversation starter. Not everyone’s into it, but Canberra has a very large population of car enthusiasts.”

And even many who aren’t car enthusiasts benefit from one of BMW’s developments every day, such as the ‘Heads-Up Display’, or HUD. They may not have invented it, but they certainly refined how speed, navigation instructions and more could be projected on a windscreen.

“That’s just one example, but a lot of the technology they put in their cars is world-leading stuff,” Ian says.


The latest BMW M3 overlooking Canberra at the National Arboretum. Photo: James Coleman.

Ian will bring both Ms to the German Auto Day, but he’ll be taking another of his collectibles to the ACT Holden Day, also held in Queanbeyan on the same day (Sunday, 25 September), for while he has many cars, “I’ve only got one bum”.

German Auto Day is on at the Queanbeyan Town Park on Sunday, 25 September, from 8:30 am to 3 pm. Entry is by gold-coin donation.

ACT Holden Day is on at the Queanbeyan Showground on Sunday, 25 September, from 8:30 am to 3 pm. Entry is by gold-coin donation, with funds going towards Rise Above Capital Cancer Relief.

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