Finding Fun At Funfzehn Auto

Even with “new math,” one plus one is still two. But on Sunday, April 28, one plus one equaled three—or maybe even more—in Southern California when the LA Chapter teamed with an Orange County landmark of BMW service, Funfzehn Auto, to hold a chapter meet and Funfzehn open house.

Funfzehn opened just three years ago when BMW CCA member Kenneth Sutton (@funfzehnauto) parlayed his fourteen years as a technician at a BMW dealership into opening his own shop. “When I started my shop, I envisioned it being more than just a repair-and-maintenance shop,” Kenneth explains. “I saw us being part of the community, supporting and enhancing the local automotive passion. I love these events; they bring out so many great people and cars. We service more than just BMWs, but partnering with the BMW CCA really flowed, especially with so many customers already being BMW CCA members. It was great to see so many friends and to meet new ones, too.”

Six of the nine E30 M3s at the event.

Mike Perlman’s (@mikemeasandwich) E23 7 Series.

Michael Irkhin (@i.michael) in his M-Technic E30 convertible.

We’ll make an exception for this non-BMW—an ultra-rad Renault 5 Turbo, one of the rawest embodiments of the term homologation special. (@bperiodcorrect)

“So many” ended up being more than 200 people, young and old, members and non-members, friends, families, kids, and even pedestrians walking by who were awed by the gathering of more than 75 BMWs (and a handful of Porsches, Lamborghinis, Corvettes, Ferraris, and even a Renault Turbo—special thanks to Bryan from Period Correct for the last one.

Some might recoil at the concept of non-BMWs at a BMW CCA chapter meet, but hey, go take a peek in your garage or recall your first or even second car—for most of us, there’s a non-BMW in there. And some BMW CCA members don’t currently have a BMW—but they do have automotive passion. The same is true of nearly any BMW CCA-hosted autocross, events which host a widely varied collection of vehicles being driven to their limit.

Former Sandlapper Chapter member Johnny Valencia’s E36 M3 is now in Southern California—with him.

One member who was impressed by the meet has been to his share of events—and has run a number of them as well. Johnny Valencia (@southerngermanation), now a partner with Gear One agency, recently moved from one SC to another: South Carolina to Southern California. “This meet was more than just a typical ‘car club meet,” Johnny recalls. “This was an event! Having a shop host a group of like-minded enthusiasts and welcome them into the shop—the full shop—was impressive. Kenneth had everything open for all to self-tour and absorb. I was very impressed with his approach and this opportunity the club helped to create.”

“And let me add: This wasn’t just for BMW cars. Mixing in other car makes with owners that can appreciate them and learn about the BMW world and how the BMW CCA integrates with others…? That’s gold!” he continues. “Major props to the LA Chapter for their continuation of breaking out of the mold with club meets and events. I now look forward to seeing what is next and attending the scheduled events versus seeing if they’ll fit into my schedule.”

(Johnny put his car where his mouth is and left his E36 M3 with Kenneth for some additional improvements.)

Mike Perlman is another BMW CCA member now calling SoCal home. “I only moved to California ten months ago, but was able to find community quickly within the BMW CCA LA Chapter,” Mike explained. “The BMW community is incredibly inviting out here; whatever you bring to the table will be appreciated, but being in the club, you feel that even more.”

Mike Perlman (@mikemeasandwich) (left) and Eric Sorenson (@official_e_sorenson) (right) admire Maureen Barnett’s (@since.five) E30 M3.

Mike arrived and parked just a few feet away from a Lamborghini, Ferrari, and an E30. “I really enjoyed the event at Funfzehn Auto. Even an under-the-radar car like the bone-stock 1979 E23 733i I drove brought four people to my driver’s door even before I could get out. It’s events like this that gather the best enthusiasm of the BMW and car community.”

Rial and Maureen Barnett, also Porsche fans with their own Porsche 911S, brought Maureen’s new E30 M3 which she recently purchased from another long-time BMW CCA member, Fred Larimer. “We’ve been members about ten years,” Maureen says. “The best part of the club for us is the camaraderie, especially with BMW nuts! I’ve owned an E36 M3, and E46 M3, and an E92 M3, and was thrilled to get such a great example of this E30 M3—a definite bucket list car. I might autocross it or some light track time and car shows with it, but it’s such a beautiful example, I want to keep it that way.

“This was our first time at a show with that car,” she continues. “It was amazing to see nine E30 M3s there, but I was also impressed with the ‘modern M’ display inside which featured a 1M, an M2, F80 M3, F82 M4, and an F90 M5. I thought the event was great. I was really impressed with the actual shop, the glass walls, how clean it was. I loved seeing the equipment, but that’s what we car people are into. The event was really well attended and staffed with club volunteers and people from Funfzehn. We knew where to come in and where to park easily. I’m glad we went—and we’re looking forward to it every year.”

Member Michael Irkhin (@i.michael) backs his M-Technic into a front spot.

Inside held a ‘Members’ Modern Ms gathering.

The chapter and Funfzehn will have to plan it when Maureen and Rial aren’t off racing their Warsteiner-liveried 2002. In fact, the weekend following the Funfzehn event found them at Laguna Seca racing the 2002 in the B-sedan light class with their Down Draft Racing team (@downdraftracing).

Included in that “modern M” display was the F90 M5 LA Chapter member Mishel Kesheshian (@mishel1773) drove. “I’ve been going to meets for years but at the BMW CCA events, I get to connect with so many like-minded enthusiasts who are as excited about all things BMW as I am,” Mishel explains. He definitely knows many things BMW—he also has an E30 M3 and E39 M5 along with a new twin-turbo X5 in the family. “Thank you, Kenneth and team, for opening your doors to your wonderful shop!” Mishel added.

Emerson Barnett enjoying Mom’s new E30 M3. [Photo courtesy of Rial Barnett (@rial.barnett)]

The LA Chapter hosts plenty of members-only events, but some events, like this one, are open to the public. Trevor Gomes (@tgomeski) arrived a non-member in his new-to-him F80 M3 and left as one of the newest members of the BMW CCA. “I hadn’t been to a BMW CCA event before this weekend, but heard about it the day before at a Cars and Coffee,” Trevor said. “I really enjoyed the energy there. I brought my girlfriend, Mao, and she had a great time—even falling in love with a nice M2 Competition! Glad I joined and looking forward to membership!”

These events don’t run themselves. Kenneth put in many hours of work (and dollars—the chapter and club thank you sincerely, Kenneth.) before and during the event, but the event also ran smoothly with BMW CCA members helping out. Eric Sorenson, himself an auto technician, arrived early and helped set up and guide cars as they arrived.

“I like the friendship that comes with these events, the BMW family atmosphere that comes with the meets, like seeing old friends!” Eric described. “I’ve been working on BMWs since the late 1980s, including being an auto technician for more than thirty years, repairing all makes and models, but have always had the most love for BMW. I enjoy volunteering and giving back at events, contributing to a great environment for members and guests. BMW CCA is like family—and not just because my two daughters are members, too!

Jarrod Coleman’s (@project_f31) F31 328d.

Another member in attendance, Jarrod Coleman (@project_f31), sees a wide range of benefits from the club and these events. “As a BMW CCA member attending these events, it truly allows us to grow through networking and creating lasting friendships,” he mentioned. “Events like this at wonderful shops like Funfzehn show us how strong our local automotive and BMW community are.”

Jarrod wasn’t wrong; the following weekend, he ushered a handful of members up to an event he was supporting at the Compton airport, providing members a unique experience of a day on an airport tarmac!—Kyle van Hoften

[Photos courtesy Kyle van Hoften.]

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