A Utopian Enclave Of BMW Passion In Southern California

Back in 2015, the online automotive community was taken by storm after a video posted by BMW detailing an anonymous and secret collector went viral. The secret BMW Collector, as the video was titled, has since been removed from YouTube, perhaps adding to the mystery surrounding the warehouse full of rare and special BMWs, many of which were captured double-stacked on lifts. There were wide-bodied 2002s, an assortment of Alpina models, dozens of sets of rare and sought-after wheels, and more engines on stands than one could count, while another area had shelves overflowing with dashboards, seats, gauge clusters, and other interior bits, with many of the individual pieces tagged and labeled.

Who was this mystery man, and where was this incredible facility? A few privileged individuals in the Southern California BMW scene were likely already aware of Rey Rivera, Reyn Speed Shop, and the treasures housed within, while the rest of us were enthralled—but also left wondering.

We’re now a few years removed from The secret BMW Collector video appearing on YouTube, and in the time since, Rey has opened the doors to his shop for other BMW and automotive enthusiasts to bask in the presence of the mechanical embodiment of his life achievements. In March 2019, the LA Chapter organized an open house at Reyn Speed Shop, where over 125 attendees were able to acquaint themselves with what was previously a well-hidden collection.

While navigating to Reyn, you pass through a nondescript industrial park made up of unremarkable buildings that host numerous small businesses. Those with sharp eyes may spot a vintage BMW or two parked in front of Rey’s shop, but otherwise, there’s essentially no indication that one these surrounding structures shelters some of the rarest and most remarkable BMW models in the brand’s repertoire.

Saturday, March 9, was a bit different, however, as even arriving substantially before the official start time, you saw a few BMWs already parked diagonally on the street in front of one particular building. Still, though, the impressive array of contemporary, modern classic, and vintage BMWs forming en masse on the pavement outside would be no preparation for what you were about to be greeted by inside.

After checking in at the sign-in desk with a few enthusiastic LA Chapter volunteers, you make your way through a nicely designed and well decorated office that could easily be among the best in the business—if this was a public shop open to customers, which it is not. Moving into the garage, the atmosphere changes, and suddenly you find yourself surrounded by more rare and notable BMWs than you can easily take in at once.

On the left is an S38B35 on a stand, its exquisite headers in full view, while off to the right are 2002s and New Class sedans stacked two-high on hydraulic lifts. The walls are adorned with brand ephemera, posters, and signs, both old and new, while artwork inspired by the legendary Ed “Big Daddy” Roth is also sprinkled in throughout—the vintage and somewhat archaic term speed shop instantly applies.

These exquisite Italian Borrani knock-off wire wheels were mounted on a Chamonix BMW 2000CS parked out front.

But what about the cars? In the now-four-year-old YouTube video, Rey can be heard mentioning roughly 45 cars, with the total moving up to 55 when parts cars are included. Walking in a daze through the facility in 2019, the numbers make sense. While we were too mesmerized to count or to even take note of the full range of models, Rey’s further description of a collection from around 1960 to 1988 seems perfectly accurate, with the only twin-cam engines present being lusted-after M designs like S14s or S38s—and a handful of S54s.

There are E21s, 2002s, E9 coupes, New Class sedans, and even some New Class coupes. There are M3s and Alpinas, including an E24 B9 3.5 in what appeared to be stunning condition, like a good portion of others stored inside.

Although Rey mentions restoration in the original video, the collector goes on to say that today, it’s more about preservation, and the story behind each individual car. That’s why Rey retains the keychains the cars came with when he procured them, and it also explains why emotions and memories tied to certain vehicles are so important to us as enthusiasts.

It’s not just the cars, though. For parts geeks, Reyn Speed Shop is another version of paradise altogether. In the main area of the garage, there are easily a dozen or more engines, many of which remain in long-block form, sitting on stands. Carbureted and fuel-injected M30s sit shoulder-to-shoulder among M10s, S14s, and S38s. Wiring harnesses and intake manifolds largely remain present, while the physical condition of the power plants, especially the uniquely aged finish of each valve cover, tells a story all its own.

Behind plastic curtains are rows of shelves stacked high with more parts, ranging from exhaust headers and manifolds to speedometers, trim pieces, panes of glass, and anything else you can imagine. Rare parts no longer listed on realOEM? They’re probably here, and they may even be labeled. The same applies for almost anything you can think of—seats, individual fasteners, steering wheels, and more. NLA? The term may not apply at Reyn.

The BMW 700, the air-cooled economy model widely credited with saving the company from bankruptcy, will be celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Lightweight and nimble from inception, the 700 proved a viable challenger in various realms of period motorsport competition, and it wasn’t long before BMW introduced a sport model in 1960, the same year that the car won its class at the Hockenheim 12-hour race with Hans Stuck Sr. behind the wheel.

Initially conceived with production of nineteen units planned, the 700RS was designed as a competition variant of the 700. The introduction and subsequent success of the New Class sedans would result in only two examples ever being built, but the nearly one-off racer would go on to find more success in road racing, rallying, and hillclimbs. Of the two made, Chassis No. 2 is owned by BMW; it wears a distinct shade of silver paint after reportedly being rebuilt at some point. Chassis No. 1, which was driven to victory by Hans Stuck Sr. in-period, is owned by Rey, and was on display at the open house.

Mahle BBS, Campagnolo, Cromodora, and various other makes and designs of wheels are stacked high on shelves. Some of us are perpetually hunting for whatever wheel design happens to be the current object of our obsession, changing sets with the seasons, while Reyn Speed Shop retains a veritable archive of factory and aftermarket designs from across the decades.

A summary of the morning spent at Reyn Speed Shop wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the people who attended the event. Initially limited to 100 people, interest was greater than initially anticipated, and the LA Chapter soon made arrangements for 125 people. BMW enthusiasts came from all over the region, including healthy representation from San Diego, but also some rather far-flung places, with visitors driving from as far as Las Vegas and Phoenix to experience the shop and meet others. At least one attendee, an LA native, also joined The Club for the very first time, exclusively because of this event.

By the end of the day, the lineup that had initially been just a few BMWs upon arrival, now stretched almost the entire length of the block, and contained an extensive model representation. While Reyn Speed Shop and the collection within focuses on models from the golden age of the brand, attendees from a myriad of different backgrounds showed up in force, behind the wheels of everything including a current M4 with competition package, a few clean E46 ZHP coupes and sedans, a number of E30s—including at least six M3s—an incredibly clean E46 M3 with competition package, a slick-top and cloth interior, an Estoril Blue F31, remarkably clean 2002s, and too many others to mention.

Above all, however, we want to thank shop owner Rey Rivera for his generosity and graciousness in opening the doors to his private collection, and BMW CCA LA Chapter president Delight Lucas for organizing the event and making it happen.—Alex Tock

[Photos by Alex Tock.]

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