“At about midnight the night before Legends, we had to pull the car apart.” Brandon Janssen might make folks from the postal service envious with his determination to get to Legends and Festorics; after traveling more than 9,000 miles in August alone in his Topaz E39 Touring over three cross-country treks, he wasn’t about to let anything keep him from rolling it onto the display lawn at Legends.
His experience Thursday night (and early Friday morning!) with his 2003 6MT 540iT M Sport started more than 300 miles from Monterey at his Lake Almanor, California, home. “Sixty miles into my drive, one of the airbags in the SLS rear suspension blew out as I was passing through Chico. This put the Touring almost literally on the ground in the rear,” Brandon recalled. “Since it wasn’t rubbing at all, I limped the car to a friend’s house in San Jose. We started working on the car at midnight. I couldn’t find anyone with a spare airbag available at that hour, so the only option was the airbag on my other M Sport Touring that was 35 miles north in Hayward getting frame work done.”
So at about 4:00 a.m., Brandon and his friends drove north a bit and essentially stole one of his own airbags off of his own car to piece together this blue beauty, determined to be at Legends in less than five hours. “At 6:10 a.m., we had the Touring back together in San Jose, just enough time to make Legends,” he recounted. “So I skipped even cleaning the car before leaving and drove straight there, arriving at the Nicklaus Golf Club at 8:17, with just enough time to wipe down the car to make it presentable on the lawn.”
Brandon is no stranger to troubles on the road. Although those aforementioned 9,000 miles earlier in the month were fairly smooth, covering fifteen states in just twelve days can take a toll on a fifteen-year-old car. “I bought the car in May with 240,000 miles on it,” Brandon explained. “Along the cross-country trips, it broke through the 250,000 mile milestone, but just shy of 200 miles after that, it broke down in Gallup, New Mexico. All in all, my troubles on all three trips were limited to a headlight bulb, a taillight bulb, an ambient-air temperature sensor—it was not negative 40 degrees Celsius outside—and a fuel pump.”
It was not Brandon’s first year at Legends and Festorics, but this time he was bringing his car to the display lawn. “It’s amazing to have a car on the lawn for this event,” Brandon exclaimed. “I’m glad it wasn’t being judged after all we went through to get it here, but it was great seeing it on the lawn next to so many other great cars—great for all different reasons. Some were new, some old, some unique, some with their owners’ special touches and preferences. I Ioved the quantity and quality of OEM and tuned German cars, including the Audis and Mercedes. There was also some great commentary by emcee Jason Cammisa. But I think the best part was to get out and see my Bimmer friends and family.
“Festorics was amazing,” he added. “I have heard great things about it, but it exceeded expectations. That was a lot of fun, and really an honor to have the Touring parked with so many beautiful 2002s, E24 sharks, E30 M3s, and even Z8s! But there were some great conversations had while watching race cars scream by maybe 20 feet in front of the BMW CCA hospitality corral. So the cool BMWs, like that gorgeous red M1 in the tent, were really a bonus!”
He didn’t take long for him to get in two Legends Of The Autobahn events and a BMW CCA Festorics weekend. Brandon has only been a BMW CCA member for fourteen months, but he’s been a BMW fan for more than fourteen years! “My buddy in high school had a silver-on-black E39 540i/6. He gave me a couple rides after football practice, and wow, what a fun car! But I didn’t get to drive a BMW until a couple years later when my good friend bought an Imola-on-black E46 M3 SMG; that car was the one that got me hooked. I really wanted a BMW, but didn’t buy one until about six years later.”
In addition to the two E39 Tourings, Brandon also has a 2001 silver-on-gray E46 330ci five-speed. His first BMW was a 2001 Sienarot-on-beige 325ci convertible five-speed, followed by a royal-blue-on-pearl beige 1988 535iS five-speed. Two automatics followed: a 1996 318ti and a 1987 Zinnoberrot-on-black 325i convertible—but it’s the Touring model that has captured his heart for now.
“I have always loved that shooting-brake look,” Brandon explained. “For the E39 Touring, it’s the long, sleek roofline. But it’s also a do-anything type of car. It’s a utility vehicle for me, in a design I prefer from a driving perspective more than today’s SUVs and SAVs. And it holds everything: people, gear, and parts—and lately, a lot of parts. I really got lucky finding this Topaz blue example. There were only four like it in Topaz, and it’s literally one of one in the Topaz-on-beige combination. The professionally done manual swap was the perfect icing on the cake.”
Even though he pilfered from his Alpine White M Sport Touring to get the Topaz Touring ready for Legends, he’s going to be turning his attention to that one now with the goal of having that white Touring shining brightly on the Legends lawn in 2019. “I will absolutely be at Legends,” he affirmed. “I am hoping to have the Alpine White Touring ready, including an S62 swap!”
Recognizing Brandon’s determination to get to Legends this year, we have no doubt that we’ll see him and his alpine white Touring there next year!—Kyle van Hoften