What could be better than nearly 50 M cars among a sea of other classics, spread across the grounds of Glenview Mansion in Rockville, Maryland, on a beautiful fall day? Yeah, that sounds pretty great—and on a crisp October Saturday at the 2022 Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show, it was absolutely fantastic.
Since 1962, the Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show has been the premier non-judged automotive event of the DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) region. The show is presented by the mayor and council of Rockville, and includes 32 regional car clubs, which for 2022 meant over 625 vehicles on display, ranging from classic Fords to vintage Ferraris, antique Rolls-Royces to historic Range Rovers. At this year’s show, two anniversaries were celebrated: 60 years since the inception of the show itself and the 50th anniversary of BMW M.
Given the significance of BMW M’s 50th anniversary, James Laws, a Rockville-show committee member as well as vice president of BMW CCA’s National Capital Chapter, made the suggestion that this year’s Special Display Group should celebrate BMW M. The committee agreed, and Laws set to work making it a reality.
Laws has been representing the BMW community on the show’s committee for the last seven years and has been attending the event for nearly 30. He recalls, “I remember taking my son for the first time when he was twelve, so I’ve been going for 28 years.” His son continues the tradition, now bringing and showing his own vehicles at the event.
Laws describes the Special Display Group as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” This year’s group—consisting solely of BMWs that in some way, shape, or form have been influenced by BMW’s M division—was positioned at the show’s center, with the event field’s terrain forming a natural amphitheater around the automotive gems. Deviating from the norm, the field wasn’t limited to just classics. Laws notes, “The Rockville show has a rolling 25-year-and-older restriction for display vehicles, but they made a concession for the Special Display Group this year.” It was a treat to see the progression of design and technology, from Richard Pople’s 1974 2002 Turbo to Rafael Garces’ 2022 G80 M3 Competition.
While all of the cars in the Special Display Group were exceptional, George Bunting’s 1980 M1 took center stage and stole the show for me, Laws, and the many others crowded around it throughout the day. Laws says, “It’s the car that officially kicked this off. There are some M collaborations and some cars that benefited from the ‘M touch’ prior to M becoming a distinct entity present, but I’d have to say the M1 is my favorite because it’s the one that started this.” With only 453 ever made, they’re certainly a rare sight.
A line of BMW royalty formed behind Bunting’s M1: Doug Dolan’s Z8, Doug Mar’s E28 M5, Michael Wah’s one-of-125 E36 M3 LTW, and Richard Pople’s aforementioned 2002 Turbo. Flanking both sides were Ms of all flavors and generations, from Roy Lenhart’s 1 Series M Coupe to Chris Jefferies’ M8. Some were completely stock, others were heavily modified, but it was obvious that all were well loved by their owners.
Beyond the Special Display Group, there was a nice selection of hardware scattered throughout the field, both from an automotive and a photography perspective—is anyone else camera-shopping at the moment? If you bring out the cars, the photographers will follow. Near the top of the hill there was a selection of non-M BMWs, including an E9 coupe, 2002s, E24 and E28 sedans, E30s, and an E31 8 Series coupe.
While it was nice to see so many familiar faces and grilles, it was also a great opportunity to meet new people—and their vehicles as well. After admiring a Brilliantrot 1990 325i sedan that caught my eye, I met its owner and first-time participant of the Rockville show, James A. Williams. “My favorite part of the show was being around so many classic car lovers,” he says. “The energy and passion that the car owners and spectators have for the cars is amazing. It’s nice to know I am not the only one who feels so passionate about the classic E30.”
Speaking of familiar faces, it was great catching up with Tom Kapikian, who brought his Z4 M coupe for the Special Display Group. Kapikian recalls, “I started going shortly after getting a driver’s license in 1980. In the ’80s there were no Cars & Coffee events, or at least I wasn’t aware of them, so I’d look forward to this show every year. I’d usually go with my dad.” With a number of restorations under his belt, it’s no surprise that he added, “My favorite part of the event is speaking with the owners of the cars, especially if they were involved in its restoration or have a good story about its acquisition. Their enthusiasm and passion are infectious.”
James Laws had similar sentiments about the show, saying, “Seeing the unique vehicles that come to this show is always a big draw, but the event is really about the people, too. There are some people I never see except at this show. It’s a combination of the social aspects and being able to see some really unique cars.”
It’s always a pleasure speaking with happy and enthusiastic people, and it’s hard not to be happy and enthusiastic at an automotive event, on a beautiful day, with a stellar backdrop. Having lived in the DMV area my whole life, I’m a little ashamed to admit that the Rockville show was a long-time-listener, first-time-caller situation for me. It was my first time attending the event this year, but it will certainly not be my last.—Mike Bevels