BMW M Town: where too much is just right!
Everything is in the title. To tell the truth, one day in April, I received an intriguing passport to the famous (soon to be famous) city of M Town. No need to search on Google Map, you won’t find this fabulous area.
A single clue: “where TOO MUCH is just right” was written and it obviously excited us a lot. I could have had this motto tattooed on my arm (maybe not).
Magny-Cours just for us
When we arrived at the famous Magny-Cours Circuit, a former Formula 1 track that rocked our childhood, we quickly noticed that everything here vibrated to the sound of the Bavarian in-line six. Well, I’m lying a little bit because when we arrived a BMW M4 DTM was warming up. With its 4.0 L V8 engine and nearly 500 hp, the sound of this race car immediately put us in the mood.
Designed for the Deutsch Touring Masters, the car is based on a standard BMW M4, but weights 981 kg and looks like a LM GTE car. Just to get into the car, you need skills that we will never have. On track, despite the wind, the slippery road and the upcoming rain, it is a real rocket that passes before our wide eyes. Especially because it’s a NA V8! We love the idea.
Family reunion in M Town
Close to the circuit, BMW M clubs have been established. Like the annual visit to your family village for Granny’s birthday, all BMW Ms are accepted. That’s why the famous Motorsport’s workshop is the law here.
Like in every family reunion, we need to kiss the granny : a beautiful BMW E30 M3! Our father (to Franck and me) had one, but I was too small to remember it. Even in 2019, the wing expanders of this car are impressive. A few meters further on, here is the great-aunt, the BMW E46 M3, reputed to be the best M3 ever produced (according to Petrolhead world).
Just next door I meet the light cousin, the latest BMW M5 Performance in an absolutely fantastic Individual green livery. Right beside the fiery uncle a BMW M4 security car. Yes yes security. The car is blue, it wears reflective “Town Security” stickers. All we have to do is behave.
Oh, a splendid BMW E3 (or New Six) shines with a thousand lights. Normal, it’s golden (and it has French yellow headlights). What a pleasure to cross the path of an iconic car from the 70s (designed under the air of Wilhelm Hofmeister with Bertone and Michelotti help) and so well surrounded by the great-grandchildren: two furious BMW M4 F82s.
A little further on, an M3 E36 attracts the eyes. It is also normal, it has a light yellow body. A true Madeleine de Proust for me, it’s the first car I can remember (from my childhood). Our father had a black one in which we laughed a lot (and muscled our necks). Yeah, our Dad was in the Bimmer club.
Finally, I had the chance to discover the latest limited edition from BMW: the M2 Competition Edition Heritage. Why Heritage? Because this car pays tribute to the most iconic BMW, the small but very strong BMW 2002 Turbo! Here is a real automotive myth with the addition of a turbocharger that offers 170 hp and 212 km/h top speed. Grandmother and granddaughter were gathered for this special occasion.
As you may understood, come as you are in M Town, especially if you drive in an M. That’s what we would have thought, but it’s quite the opposite. Avoiding the sectarian club effect, BMW France invited all fans and curious people of the brand to join the family. We even found an Alfa Romeo Giulia Bertone and some Nissan Juke in the parking lot (wink).
Hundreds of BMW M at the M Town Festival
An advertisement reasoned in the circuit, it’s time for the big parade. I’m lucky to be able to get in a taxi. What, a taxi?
Probably the fastest taxi in the world if it makes you feel any better. This is a superb BMW M4 convertible from New York. Fast and cool.
It’s a BMW France’s genius idea to redesign its cars in the colours of service from typical city life. So I inherit a stylish taxi driver position, Le Billet Auto a security guard job, Le Garage des Blogs a Police’s M5, and finally Planete Gt and Alex Smolik are enlisted in the army with a X5 M tank (in case things go really wrong) for an amazing tour of the Magny-Cours track.
Indeed, more than 150 BMW M, all models and all periods followed each other in total mechanical harmony. In the mirrors, I can see kidneys everywhere that shine under the white light of a sunless day. The engines exclaim, the flaps open and the exhausts backfire proudly for our and all BMW enthusiasts’ greatest happiness.
As soon as I left the track, I had the chance to put on a helmet for a few laps on … the track! On board a BMW M4 CS I follow in the footsteps of Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso (2004, Grand Prix de France, for those who have forgotten).
After only two turns I understood that this car was a real rocket. We press the accelerator, the speedometer (a real one and it’s a big pleasure) goes up at a crazy speed and the rpm counter (also real) dances thanks to the gear changes on the fly. With 460 hp and surgical adjustments, the turbocharged engine behaves (almost) like an atmospheric engine with plenty of power at low and high rpm. The sound of the 6-cylinder engine is pleasant, very communicative, it comes up both from the engine compartment and also from the exhaust. It’s a stereo symphony! And on top of that, we hear very little turbo. With a sharp steering like rarely found in modern cars, and a car screwed to the ground (thanks to a diet of 35 kg among other things), I feel confident to enjoy being a driver for a few laps.
And that’s where the real pilot comes in. One of the instructor pilots takes the wheel : a great lesson in driving and humility.
Drift happens at M Town
You can see the sign “drift happens” from the stands. Yeah, it’s time to leave this diving view on the circuit to take a BMW M4 on a puddle. 450 hp + rear wheel drive + puddle = drift! It makes sense, and since everything is allowed (or almost) at M Town, we had the chance to take a lesson at the drift school.
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Put your foot on the gas pedal, turn the wheels and go! It’s necessary to maintain a little gas and control the trajectory to turn around the studs. It seems easy when it’s a pilot who does it, he turns in 8 without stopping, you have a huge smile on your face and the spectators are almost craving to vomit while watching you have fun like crazy. But it’s more difficult than it seems. I mean, after a few head-to-heads it’s starting to come and you’re having a blast.
M Town: a weekend that should become a tradition
After having spent 48 hours surrounded by all these Bavarian cars, I must admit that I no longer want to leave them.
First because it takes me back to my childhood when I admired with great pride and envy the BMWs of my father. Then because I know how difficult it is to give open-mindedness passion to a monobrand event.
Finally I had the opportunity to have fun as it’s rarely allowed and to discover cars that I didn’t know (or badly) like the BMW M4 CS (which seems completely insane) or the BMW X7 M50d which proved much more dynamic than I thought with its diesel engine (unbelievable) and it’s turbos (not one, not two, not three but four turbos!!). However, this is another story.
Let’s hope that this French first edition of the M Town festival will become a new motoring rendez-vous. See you drifting in this smashing ephemeral city next year guys. Until the next edition, you can study thanks to the videos from BMW M Town School.