[Publisher’s note: Please check out our gallery of pictures from MX1 and look forward to our full review in the upcoming issue of Roundel.]
Mike Smiley met me at the hotel at the start of the second annual MX1 Enthusiast Weekend and ferried me over to the BMW CCA headquarters building for Saturday’s Cars & Coffee get-together, with me linened up and dandified in Concours Pink, complete with dashing stylin’ fedora. (Yes, the difference between what I look like in such an outfit and what I feel like I look like is vast and depressing, but vanity is an evil affliction.)
You may wonder, as I do, how the 2022 sequel to MX1 2021, the April get-together that celebrated the BMW CCA’s newest chapters, the M Chapter and the X Chapter, came to carry the same MX1 title as last year. I thought it should be called MX2, but perhaps no one anticipated the success of the first event, which pretty much demanded a repeat. Maybe someone envisioned the burden of adding numbers forever, and decided to just stick with MX1, or perhaps we still had MX1 T-shirts in inventory and didn’t want them to go to waste, but in any case I’m not buying the marketing response to the question: that the 1 signifies that we are all one club, with one common passion, and one something something something.
So MX1 it is, and it seems to have become a tradition worth repeating: Hangin’ out at CCA HQ with friends, talking about cars and enjoying a beautiful day—which means we ought to think about moving this event to late May or June. Man, in April, the Upstate can be downright chilly!
Anyway, Smiley is the friend from North Carolina who bought my beloved BMW Z8, Nancy Drew, so it’s a situation like being friends with your ex-wife’s new husband (you are his ex-husband-in-law, I suppose). In this case, she is much better off, I must admit; I was living well above my station at the wheel of a Topaz Z8, but now she is in the care of someone who can afford to look after her properly. I was pleased to see the beautifully restored black leather behind the seats and around the roll-over hoops—40,000 miles of top-down driving will do that—and I am truly glad to see Nancy Drew in good hands.
But more important than my reunion with a beloved roadster at MX1—I think the Z8 is accepted at such events because of its S62 M engine, or maybe it’s just that old “one club” line—was the chance to mingle and meet so many BMW enthusiasts, especially those in the X Chapter. Yes, the M Chapter is pretty much a no-brainer, isn’t it? The BMW CCA is all about passion for the marque, and for that Freude Am Fahren that we know so well.
But the X Chapter? How much passion do people feel for X cars?
Heh. That’s a question people have been asking since 1999, when BMW rolled out the groundbreaking (and ground-pounding) X5 for the first time. I remember that there were anguished wails over the notion of the company building a truck. The horror! What are we going to do if someone shows up at a driving school with an SUV?!
I was able to answer that particular question by explaining the launch of the car. Yes, they had journalists driving through some gooey red Georgia clay. But then we drove to Road Atlanta, where they turned a horde of journos loose on the track with those V8 X5s. Hey, somebody else’s car, somebody else’s tires, and surely they have insurance? Here, hold my phone and watch this.
Today, of course, nobody has any doubts about the performance capabilities of any X car in the BMW lineup. In fact, I have created some fond memories of bodacious X-perience (somebody stop me!), from X3s on the AlCan to an X6 M cross-country dash, and my advice to any track rat who sees an X car in the mirror is, “Move aside.” That stems from a day at Circuit Of The Americas, where we were flogging everything M with abandon. I was making my way down the long back straight—it must be half a mile or more—with the pedal pegged in an M2, when it was passed by an X5 M carrying four BMW Performance Center instructors, who were laughing at my little car, the meanies.
However, size matters, as they say, and I have a particular fondness for fast cars that fit my stature, so I went on record with the controversial X2. I called it the true successor to the BMW 2002. Heresy!
But think about it: The 2002 is generally regarded as the world’s first sport sedan. It was suitable for a young family who could afford one car, so it had to carry four people, size regular, and a reasonable amount of their stuff, for a road-trip weekend or a grocery-store run. It had to have the proper balance to deal with varying driving conditions, including snow and ice. And it had to provide satisfying Walter Mitty driving performance.
I think that the X2 fills those roles quite well (the X1 does, too, but I am seduced by style. Remember that fedora?), at an affordable price. Yes, it’s a front-wheel-drive car, sharing a Mini platform, but I am an old hand at this FWD bidness, so I’m fine with it. Besides, you can get it with xDrive, with which I am even finer, still mourning my 325iX. (Maybe a 325iX would qualify for the X chapter; I’ll bet they’d welcome your electric BMW iX, too!)
This explains the enthusiasm of X Chapter BMW devotees, I think, and I was especially glad to hang out with a few of the New Jersey contingent for a while. (I think they’re from Jersey, anyway.) When you trace the evolution of the X cars through BMW’s history, you’ll find all-wheel-drive versions of every series, sometime in an X model and sometimes standard models. Moreover, now you’ll find X cars with two-wheel-drive, causing BMW marketing gnomes to come up with terms like sDrive, short for X No Longer Means What It Once Did.
I say that it’s not the nomenclature that binds us, X-car fans or M-car junkies; it’s passion. Just do as I do: Rip off the badges and drive.—Satch Carlson
[Photos courtesy Jon van Woerden.]