By Michael Mitchell, Museum Curator, and Len Rayburn. Photos by Mike Ura.
The Ultimate Driving Museum launched The Power of M: Celebrating 50 Years exhibition on Friday, May 13. This is the first exhibition under the new museum name, but the sixth overall for the BMW CCA Foundation.
Starting the night with a kick-off reception, museum staff and trustees ripped off the paper from the windows and opened the doors, ramping up anticipation by keeping the lights low. When the lights came up, guests entered the display hall featuring 25 magnificent BMW M cars and one M motorcycle, with plenty of art and memorabilia arrayed throughout. However, one vehicle remained shrouded until the end of the evening.
A Year of Work
The Museum team spent most of the past year to carefully select the vehicles for this display and determine to how best tell the story of 50 Years of BMW M. From classic to modern, M vehicles and memorabilia were collected and curated to give visitors the most complete experience possible.
As the evening progressed, guests heard about BMW’s M history in the U.S. from Jackie Jouret, Creative Director and author of the exhibition book; Tom Plucinsky, BMW Group Product and Technology Communications; and three former M Brand Managers: Erik Wensberg, Larry Koch, and Matt Russell. The panel discussed how BMW’s performance-oriented M brand was formed, the significance of the various cars in the display, and several other stories about the history.
Guests had their suspense lifted along with the cover of the hidden car, unveiling a late edition to the exhibition: the 2022 BMW Art Car, created by Jeff Koons. The artist had previously created the 2010 E92 M3 GT2 Art Car that raced at Le Mans. BMW worked with Jeff again for a new creation in 2022. This time, 99 identical BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupes were created for The 8 X Jeff Koons. This is the first time that “Art Cars” were created by BMW for the public to purchase. While it’s unclear how many will be delivered to the U.S., but all 99 were reportedly sold around the world in only 6 minutes. Museum Curator Michael Mitchell said they were lucky to be able to display one in the museum. He emphasized that it won’t be on display for long. Anyone who wants to see it in person will need to visit the museum before June 6, when it will be returned to BMW.
On Saturday, May 14, the exhibition opened the museum to a larger crowd. Jouret presented information about the cars in the exhibit to the new guests. Several of the cars’ owners were present, sharing stories about the cars.
In the exhibit, guests get to see five race cars, a 2002 turbo, five special-edition M3s (including the Cecotto E30 M3 to an E90 CRT, five generations of M5s, an M1, an X5 M, a pair of Zs, and several coupes ranging from the E9 Batmobile, to the M8 Safety Car).
The Power of M exhibit will run through January 21, 2023.
Upcoming Open House
If you are coming to town for The Vintage in Hot Springs this weekend, the museum will host an open house event on Friday, May 20. Tickets are still available at: The Power of M – The Vintage Open House 2022 Tickets, Fri, May 20, 2022 at 10:00 AM | Eventbrite