Performance Delivery Center, March 2002

You may not know it, but the marketing center at BMW has been working hard to put an even bigger smile on the face of their customer than do the engineers in Munich. I am talking about taking delivery of your new car in Spartanburg, South Carolina at BMW's beautiful Delivery Center. Once we decided that we wanted the 2002 E46 330, our choice was easy for where to take delivery. These three pages and 50 images or so are meant to document one of the most fun BMW experiences of my 16 years behind the wheel.
-Performance Delivery-
"One sleepless night, one awesome morning"

I'm not sure where the thought of taking delivery from the Spartanburg facility actually came from. I spend so much time reading, fantasizing, asking and answering questions about BMW's that by now, such an option is as ingrained in me as the marque itself. We had not planned a European trip, and we figured it would be some time before we went, so European delivery was out. Besides, we had never been to Spartanburg, and it sounds German-esque anyway. (Actually, to someone who studies language, it sorta sounds like the folks who named it didn't think much of it, but hey, things change.)

We left after work on a Thursday night before our scheduled pickup on Friday, March 15, 2002. Worried about a pickup on the Ides of March? Yeah, I was...What of it?
Once on the ground, we had been sent a letter detailing whom we should call and what we should tell them. I would be lying if I expected that no one at the Marriott would know what the hell I was talking about but I was relieved to find them old hands at the BMW delivery process. Our ride would arrive in minutes.

Click any picture for a larger (640x~480) version.

Want to get some weird looks? Take a picture of the 525iT that picks you up at the airport and takes you to the hotel.

Our driver was courteous, informed, and casual as we asked about local places to eat and things to do that night. He told us that our evening meal was provided for us by BMW at the hotel restaurant, Austins. It was good, he said, and to us, the price was right. He had everything in order for us, including our keys and itinerary. We were already checked in and felt as though the only responsibility we had was to have a good time and try to get some sleep. We tipped him after he carried our bags to the room.
Dinner was a choice of chicken, filet, or fish. We both chose filet out of genuine preference. Though wine is not provided by BMW, the house cabernet was a nice complement to the meal. It was well cooked and the taste was acceptable. All in all a good value, if nothing else. After dinner, it was time for bed as wake up was to be 6:30AM for packing and breakfast before departure at 7:45AM.

Ok yes, this is a picture of the shuttle bus. Hey, I'm documenting, here.

Once inside, you will find yourself greeted by a host of people from BMW. Here is our delivery specialist, Jonathan Stribble.


A shot from inside the Delivery Center. This is someone's beautiful grey-green 525iT sport.

On the ride over, you may or may not be inclined to talk to the 14 or 16 people riding with you. Across the aisle from us was some pompous guy talking just loudly enough for everyone on the bus to know he knew something about BMW because he worked for them or someone he knew did or something. I tried not to listen and instead sort of trembled with excitement at what the day held for us.
After you get inside, your team of 16 bimmerheads splits up. It was very unfortunate for us that there would be no factory tour of the assembly plant because they were hiding the new Z3 in there. Normally, some of the group would head to a tour, others would head to the track, and still others would head to take delivery. The only exception here is that instead of the tour, each group was taken in turns to the Zentrum Museum, to see the "virtual tour." More on that later.

Because we first went with Jonathan (hereon deemed "Jon") for delivery, this page will follow our experience.



I was certain I had seen the car through the glass windowed garage as we entered the building, and I was right. Jon took us for the first glance at my wife's first bimmer.

Take a look at these pictures where the wheels are shown. Notice anything about the roundels on the wheels? That's right. They take the time to ensure they're straight with BMW across the top. I asked how many notice after Jon smiled that I had. His words: "You'd be surprised." I felt all warm and fuzzy for a moment that I was in a place so many found as hallowed as me. My wife rolled her eyes.

European delivery has been around for years. In fact, we were to take delivery of our 1986 635Csi using this wonderful option, but alas, someone bombed somebody, and the Department of No Fun for You issued a travel advisory advising against European travel. We did get to take the included Skip Barber two day racing school, as at the time they ran '86 535is's. Outside of a few experiences in my other 2002 (the model, not the year), the Skip Barber school ranks as the most fun I have ever had in a BMW.


From all the pictures of her car, I like this one best.

The first picture of the inside.

 

 


Jonathan was most accommodating as I ran around the car taking pictures of this angle and that. I know it set him back a few minutes for the orientation, and I truly appreciate his willingness to let me bounce around, play with flash and light and generally waste his time.
Click any picture for a larger (640x~480) version.

At delivery, the car had 7 miles on it. There is all sorts of conjecture and fact about why there may be more than just enough miles on your new bimmer than was necessary to drive it on and off a boat a couple times, but to be truthful, I didn't care if they used the car for a beer run. These people are professionals and as long as there aren't any peeled labels in the floorboards, I'm happy.
Up to the point that we actually ordered our 2002 330, we hadn't even considered buying a new BMW, preferring instead to let someone else eat the depreciation and pick up a nearly new CPO car as I did with my 2000 540. But the 2001's supposedly had some steering retrofit that was needed, and the 02's had a little facelift, and then there was the clincher: heated seats. It's so hard to find a used car with heated seats in this region that we would be forced to go out of town for another purchase. We needed a local deal for reasons we found important enough to make the purchase locally.
Another shot of the mileage. This was actually after the museum trip and back to the delivery center, I was afraid the first one hadn't taken.
For the benefit of the pictures, Jon opened the garage and let me take a few pictures of the car inside the delivery bay. For some reason, it makes you want a glass garage at home.
Below, the table with the keys, books, cards, pins, and other stuff you get when you buy a new bimmer. We spent quite a bit of time as Jon showed us about warranty items, read us some manual highlights and then took us inside the car where he explained every button, toggle, dial, and whizbang feature of our new car. He talked so long his voice started to crack. I bounced around and took more pictures.

Click any picture for a larger (640x~480) version.
Finally, it was time for my wife to drive her car out of the bay. Jon posed for a picture by the car, and we parked in front of the building for some more pictures. You may notice that the picture to the left shows the car without the front plate holder while Jon models with the car as it was delivered. Jon was gracious enough to find us the appropriate part and even put it on for us while we watched. I held my wife and exclaimed, "Honey! Your first mod!" She was actually a little excited, but she still rolled her eyes.

I hope that I have done the delivery part of this experience justice. It was great. As we talked, I asked Jon how you score a gig like his. His answer: "You get lucky." He had answered an ad in the paper and found out later that it was with BMW. I am considering taking delivery of the Spartanburg paper to begin randomly answering ads for computer geeks. Are you listening BMWNA?

On to the Track!

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