San Diego Chapter’s Clean-Car Contest Brings Out The Best

Weather is not usually a factor for the members of the San Diego Chapter and the various events we are treated to throughout the year. 2019 has been a different story, however, as an exceptionally wet winter dragged on; indeed, two solid months of May Gray and June Gloom seemed to negate spring entirely. In a rare set of circumstances that hasn’t occurred in over a decade,  the San Diego Chapter’s Jack Cavanaugh Memorial Car Show, Clean-Car Contest, & Charity Auction, typically held during the second half of May, was cancelled—and subsequently rescheduled for the final day of June.

Postponing an event will always influence participation, but even with a month-long delay, this year’s clean-car contest was like any other: An intimate group of BMW appreciators were treated to an impressive array of rare, special, and immaculately well-preserved cars in a picturesque setting: a warm and sunny day at Spanish Landing Park, which sits on the shore of San Diego Bay.

As we noted last year, the San Diego Chapter’s Clean-Car Contest is one of the best local events, whether serving as an introduction to the BMW CCA for the uninitiated, or a perennial gathering that’s not to be missed, which it has become for many loyalists. At the yearly spring event, it’s just as much about the cars as it is about the people, with some truly incredibly BMWs getting their yearly dose of sunlight and appreciation, and their owners a chance to socialize among the like-minded.

Whether you’re interested in the cleanest of the clean, or the most well-preserved example of an otherwise conventional BMW, the clean-car contest has something for everyone. Looking to showcase your newly-purchased M car after carrying out a painstaking detail session? This is the place to do it, with a crowd that will likely appreciate your efforts. From old to new, with everything in between, it seems like the mix of BMWs at Spanish Landing is always changing; there’s almost always a nearly complete assortment of the newest M models, typically in an array of BMW Individual and rarely-seen colors, while the generations of yesteryear enjoy even stronger representation.

Even with a very eclectic crowd, and a healthy number of cars sitting on the grass as unjudged displays, the competition for the actual concours is fierce. If you’re looking to cast off and embark on your first foray into a concours, this is a good place to start and learn—but this doesn’t mean that you should forget the Q-Tips and Speed Shine. Door jambs, the carpet beneath your floor mats, and even the crevice formed by the adjustable forward leg support in BMW sport seats are all going to be scrutinized by gloved experts with years of wisdom. When the rags are put down, all bets are off—hope you didn’t miss a spot!

Judges Mike Burger and Pedro Leon, both of whom have been doing this for years, examine the engine bay of an E34 M5 finished in Calypso Red Metallic over Individual Champagne upholstery.

Every year since the M2 exploded onto the scene, at least a few have graced the clean-car contest with their presence. This year the model once again saw strong representation, with examples in Long Beach Blue, Mineral Grey, and Alpine White. While some owners have kept their cars stock, there was one rare M2 Performance Edition present, which featured essentially the full catalog of BMW M Performance parts. San Diego Chapter president Lisa Goehring also brought her Alpine White European-Delivery M2, which is also almost fully loaded with M Performance bits; Lisa and her car won the Clean class.

The full array of modern rear-drive M cars was also on hand, with more than a few F80 M3s and F82 M4s basking in the San Diego sunshine. Interestingly enough, the majority of these current M cars were finished in BMW Individual colors, such as the stunning San Marino, Tanzanite, and Laguna Seca blues, while there was also a limited-production M4 CS wearing exclusive Lime Rock Grey.

The clean-car contest is also an opportunity to explore the middle ground between old and new, or models I have colloquialized as modern classics. These include masterpieces like the E46 M3, the example below being a Dinan Signature car that has received the highest honors at this very show, along with BMWs like the E34 and E39-generation M5s. These special cars, which are currently experiencing renewed interest and appreciating values, are all here as well, some wearing modifications and rare parts that would be impossible to procure today, while others have been maintained in their stock configuration with no deviation. There was even a Z8 in rare Topaz, the much-traveled roadster owned by Roundel editor-in-chief Satch Carlson. “I keep running into people who have never seen a Z8 in real life,” says Carlson, “so I have to keep bringing Nancy Drew to every event I can think of.” (Why Nancy Drew, you ask? “Because on the very first page of the very first Nancy Drew mystery published in 1930,” says Carlson, “we are introduced to an independent young woman who drives a blue roadster. She is, like, sixteen years old, she drives a bitchin’ roadster, and for some reason she doesn’t have to go to school. No wonder she was my first feminist hero!”)

Beyond the BMWs, specific models, and idiosyncratic owners, Spanish Landing Park is also transformed into a place where some find inspiration amid immaculate paint and spotless wheels. This year Los Angeles Chapter member Kyle van Hoften and his awesome E30 M-Technic convertible graced us with their presence for the first time, and it sounds like he—and perhaps the car, unless he brings one of his other BMWs—will be joining the fun again in the future.

It’s also a place to catch up with old friends, like the 1600 full cabriolet that was featured in a certain music video several years back—not to mention the veteran BMW CCA members who have seen it all over the years, with more than a few stories to share.

Although the show focuses exclusively on BMWs, the fun isn’t limited to just one marque. Every year, something interesting makes an appearance, and this time it was a Citroën 2CV. Looking at the scene below, one can’t help but think it’s time to break out the baguette and aged cheese—exactly what the owners did, after removing the seats for use as picnic benches.

This year the Jack Cavanaugh Perpetual Award went to an incredibly special car, brought by one of the bedrock members and supporters of the San Diego Chapter—a 3.0 CSL owned by Carl Nelson, proprietor of La Jolla Independent. There’s no need to explain the importance and history of the 3.0 CSL in BMW culture here, but having a real Batmobile present at our little concours is a perfect illustrator of just how special this event is.—Alex Tock

Clean
Lisa Goehring 2016 M2
Super Clean
Gary Collins 1991 M5
Master’s
Vincent Gormally 1985 M535i
Jack Cavanaugh Perpetual Award, Judge’s Choice
Carl Nelson E9 3.0 CSL

[Photos by Alex Tock.]

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