It’s something of an age-old question: You win the lottery and are allotted five precious garage spaces to store five of the very best Bavarians. What do you choose? This is a game my friends and I play en route to car shows and meets around the Boston area. Each of us presents different stipulations of dream garage scenarios, which we answer, debate, and present again (if you don’t already do this with your car buddies, I highly suggest it).
Let’s tackle my dream five-BMW garage. In order to guide my selections, my garage would be broken down into five separate categories, with one for each car: overland, daily driver, canyon cruiser, dedicated track car, and classic. This allows for a diverse selection of some of the best BMWs ever made.
I’ve been on a major overland kick recently, scouring the country for Defenders and FJ60 Cruisers. However, if I had to get a BMW to overland with, what would it be? With so many different choices over the long history of BMW X-cars, this spot made for a trickier choice than I realized. Some options include the F15 X5, E83 X3, and G07 X7, among countless others.
The E53, the first-generation X5, would be my choice. With different diesel and gasoline variants, I would opt for the three-liter M57 turbodiesel. Providing users with endless torque to conquer steep inclines and rough terrain, the M57’s known reliability provides peace of mind when off the beaten path. Wedge in all your gear, add knobby tires, a roof tent, and a #VanLife sticker, and you’re off to tracking down the best microbrewery this side of the Hudson.
Next up is my daily driver. Those who know me know that I am a massive wagon nut, and luckily for me, BMW has provided its fair share of killer Touring models over the years. The E61, while not the most popular of the wagon choices, is my pick as my dream-garage daily.
As far as drivetrain is concerned, the Touring variant limits your combinations. However, I would have my E61 with the famous N54 (or infamous: let’s just pretend that the N54 is reliable for now). I would spec it with all of the available M Sport options, a six-speed gearbox, and xDrive. There’s nothing quite like a big family hauler with a stick. In order to get me to and from the ski hill on weekends, the xDrive system with winter rubber, should dispatch any less-than-ideal road conditions. To complete the look, a ski box on the roof would allow for bonus space, and help with accommodating other guests.
For my canyon cruiser, I’m going to go with a much less obvious choice. The goal for this garage spot is the ultimate street car, and for me that’s a car in which I can use all of the power, all of the time. The E30 320iS, or “Italian M3,” would be a cracking little canyon-ripper, but an oddball choice, given the number of established Ms out there. Something about a stock-looking, narrow-body E30 with a complete M3 drivetrain (albeit in short-stroke two-liter form) is seriously appealing to me.
The Italian M3 is the ultimate sleeper: completely normal-looking, not out of the ordinary at all—a standard E30. I’d have the sedan, just in case anyone else wants to join in on the fun and further the sleeper look. The E30 platform is small and balanced, and with a proper S14 under the hood of a four-door, I can only imagine how much fun it would be.
Dedicated Track Car
Here is where some serious creativity can come into play. With so many iconic track-day BMWs to choose from, I should feel bad for cheating—but the Mclaren F1 GTR Longtail has to be the best car ever. Stunningly designed, the car debuted far ahead of its time. The GTR variant, and furthermore the LT, gave the already blisteringly fast F1 additional grip and downforce to dominate racing circuits the world over.
On top of its iconic design, the power plant behind this purebred is just as staggering. The S70 is one of the finest engines BMW has ever put together (I know, Earth-shattering statement). With different derivatives showing up in the V12 LMR and 850CSi, the S70 has powered some of BMW’s most recognizable vehicles. Through its application in the McLaren F1, the revolutionary V12 allowed the car to retain the title as the world’s fastest production vehicle for over a decade—and to this day, it’s only been eclipsed by models with forced induction. For me, the F1 is the only track toy I would ever need.
Finally, my classic: This is the category that I struggled with the most. Being a 23-year-old, I find myself much more attracted to older Bimmers than new. I have come to appreciate a car’s simplicity, over-engineering, and usable power. Among 507s, E24s, 2002s, and the like, I’ve always found it impossible to choose just one classic BMW—that is, until this past fall, when I got to see, up close and personal, a racing legend.
The timeless 3.0CSL in Batmobile specs has to be BMW’s most iconic racing car. With its striped livery, hollering straight six, and classic aero, the CSL would be the perfect classic to complement the rest of my oddball garage. Both the street car and the race car are brilliant in their own way, but something in me flipped after watching a CSL rip around the Performance Center at O’Fest in 2019. What it lacks in tech, it makes up for in style. It looks like a proper classic racer. I will never get used to just gawking at the sculpture of this car. The boxed fender flares are absurd, doing their best to rein in the massively wide tires front and rear. The engine bay is completely stripped down to the bare basics; there is nothing inside this car that doesn’t absolutely have to be there. Watching a 3.0 CSL fly around the Performance Center track makes me think back to racing drives of old, in which drivers held the beast on the ragged edge to shave tenths of a second off their lap. The 3.0CSL is the ultimate classic BMW.
After hearing mine, what is your dream five-BMW garage? With such diversity produced over BMW history, what did I miss?—Tucker Beatty
[Photos courtesy BMW AG, Gooding & Company, RM Sotheby’s.]