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Munich Auto Otaku 2023: Back at the BMW Welt & Museum. (And also, Motorworld Munchen)


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For Bimmerheads in Munich, it really is a no-brainer to pop by the Welt and the museum whenever they're in town, not just because it literally is the centre of all things BMW but also because unlike most places in Munich that open only between the hours of 10-11 am, the Welt opens its doors at a rather early (especially for Germany) 730 am. Which makes it one of the perfect places to start a day in Munchen. The other is, of course, Kaffeerösterei at Viktualienmarkt which coincidentally opens at 730 am as well! 


Or, you can do what I always do, pop by the coffee stand first for a morning cuppa (and a delicious pastry) and then hop onto the nearby U3 U-Bahn towards Olympiazentrum.


While I have been here on a number of occasions already, the sight of the BMW Welt and their iconic 4-Cylinder Building never fails to excite me. 


Outside, a beautiful M8 was getting prepped to enter the Welt. These are such beautiful Grand Tourers, if only they didn't evolve into such expensive machines! (Relatively speaking of course. Yes, yes, I know it retails for S$180,000 brand new in Germany. Stop reminding me!)


At the same time, a trailer pulled up to unload its contents. I guess it has to be something cool when it is being pulled by a Cayenne.




Inside, Vision Dee was on display, this is one of two Vision Dee's built, the other car,  a white one,  was at the time heading towards Singapore! This version is with the sweet colour-shifting E-ink panels. 


While it does look very similar to the Vision Neue Klasse, there are some notable differences which make the newer Neue Klasse appear much closer to being a production car.


A variant we don't get here in Singapore, a 330e plug-in hybrid Touring. 



And one of the cars I was in Germany for, the iX1. Looking especially good here in blue. Still no news yet on when the iX1 will arrive here. Pity our archaic and backwards-looking regulations when it comes to EV vehicles. Taxing EVs based on their power output is stupidity onto another level and blindly penalising innovation, engineering excellence and technological progress. 


This M3 was sitting in the cordoned off delivery area which means someone spec'ed their M3 with the entirety of the M Performance Parts catalog. While it might seem like a silly thing to do considering the obscene prices of original add-ons, due to the very strict rules regarding aftermarket parts buying a car with manufacturer options is one of the few ways an owner can drive a hopped-up vehicle legally without hassle from the Popo. 


After discussing homologation with TUV with Nikolas at Bavarian Econs, I can confirm that driving a modified vehicle in Germany is a formidable challenge. There's a meticulous process for testing and obtaining type approval for every modification, and there's no room for leniency in these regions. If the police suspect any modifications on your vehicle, there's a high likelihood that you will be pulled over.

Just how rigorous are the regulations concerning aftermarket parts? Let's consider wheels as an example. In Germany, there's no universal wheel that fits all vehicles. Each wheel must undergo testing and approval for each specific make and model. In other words, a wheel that has been tested and approved for a 3-Series M340i might not legally be installed on a 320i unless it has been subjected to testing on the 320i. Supposedly explaining why the selection of aftermarket wheels in Germany is relatively limited.

Of course, you can take the initiative to have a wheel tested and approved, but this requires a solid understanding of the paperwork involved and a significant financial commitment. To avoid all this hassle, it's much simpler to order performance-enhancing components directly from the manufacturer, which is where M Performance Parts come into play. This also clarifies why prominent German tuning companies construct entire vehicles from the ground up, sparing customers the trouble of dealing with TUV.

At this point, the car that was sitting in the Porsche pulled trailer was finally unloaded and brought to its display area, and it was truly something special. 


This is ROWE racing's M4 GT3, fresh off winning the gruelling 24-hours of SPA. 


Don't believe me? Here's the trophy. What a sight.



Looking resplendent with its bug splatters and battle scars on display. This is how a race car should look.




After I got my fill of ROWE goodness, it was time to head over to the museum. 

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In an earlier post, we unveiled the BMW Welt’s exceptional early opening time, greeting visitors at a remarkable 7:30 am—a departure from the usual German schedules. While the Welt invites early birds to explore its new automotive wonders, the BMW museum patiently bides its time, unveiling its treasures only at the stroke of 10 am (on the dot!). This distinctive timing offers a unique opportunity for a leisurely morning experience at the Welt, before one ventures into the museum.


As we also mentioned in an earlier post, there was a Z3 meet happening that very morning too! Giving me plenty of things to do before I enter the museum. For those wondering, entry into the museum is priced at 10 euros and they can now be purchased online as well, which allows you to join a shorter line at the entrance. Do make use of the free lockers in the basement as well to store your heavy bags as you will not be permitted entry before doing so.


Unfortunately, on the day of my visit, the museum was undergoing some light renovations which meant not all rooms were accessible. Having flown halfway across the world, this wasn’t going to be a deal-breaker. Considering I’ve been here on previous occasions, I’ll keep my sharing to just certain highlights.


Not many know this from their first visit but here’s a hot tip. Head down to the basement even if you have no need for the locker because just behind the lockers and restrooms is a display stand where BMW rotates their Art Cars and is an area open to the public. I felt pretty lucky because this is one of my favourites, the Roy Lichtenstein E21 320i Group 5 Racer. Right up there with the Alexander Calder CSL (Frank Stella’s beautiful CSL is a close third).


Seeing this car up close was quite the experience. All the little details and textures hidden in photos are much more apparent in reality. As is the whole overall visual presence of the car that just can’t be conveyed in pictures.



Roy Lichtenstein, often hailed as the pioneer of American pop art, made a groundbreaking impact in the late 1950s. His exploration of mundane aspects of culture, like comics and advertisements, marked the advent of an entirely fresh artistic style. In the company of influential artists like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and James Rosenquist, Lichtenstein played a central role in shaping the emerging “Pop art” movement.


Although Lichtenstein’s comic art style was already a thing of the past when he was commissioned by BMW, his Art Car is clearly influenced by it: the long-drawn coloured strips act as “speed lines” – a feature used in comics to suggest speed. Even the oversized dots used by Lichtenstein, the “Benday Dots,” are reminiscent of his famous comic book pictures.


For a car painted by such a celebrated artist, it really was quite brave of BMW to send it off racing in Le Mans. Nonetheless, while it might have been a rolling work of art, it managed to finish 9th Overall (and first in class) in the 1977 running of the 24 hours of Le Mans.





Straight into the museum, some familiar sights remain. This room with generations of 3s on display obviously needs some serious expansion. Perhaps they are awaiting the unveiling of the Neue Klasse?


There were also some new exhibits on display like this area showcasing BMW’s EV evolution. For those naysayers when they see what Bavarian Econs has done to their 2002, here’s proof that an EV 02 is somewhat period correct!


I really do miss driving mine.


The exhibition hall featuring their meticulously curated M cars has undergone a transformation. These cars are now arranged in a less structured manner throughout the hall, offering visitors the opportunity to capture more aesthetically pleasing photographs.






I love this era of M cars.



Understated, pure and lean. Design cues that will probably never pass scrutiny by today’s younger generation.


A lovely pair to have.


I doubt anyone will scoff at one of these though.



BMW Perfection.


I miss the days when these were actually attainable.




There was also a beautiful display of 1:43s at the back of the hall. No, not for sale. Sadly. I want those Art Cars so bad.


Over in the main open hall, it was surprising how most people walked by this without even giving it a look! Don’t they know it’s an 850i Convertible from when BMW mulled over the option of offering an E31-based drop top and built this one-off as part of the project?




Unfortunately for the E31 (again), due to concerns that it might not generate sufficient sales to justify its substantial development and production expenses, the project failed to secure approval from BMW’s senior management for mass production. Remember, this was back in the early 1990s when the World’s economy took a shit (as always).



Somewhat hidden away are some of BMW’s newer race cars, I’m guessing they will be moved one the museum finishes its renovation.


These two beauties were also tucked away albeit in a more permanent-looking space.


From one CSL to another, here are two of BMW’s newer concepts.



While they are both absolutely gorgeous, unfortunately, as we all know by now, only one made it to production.

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The Museum also features a dynamic exhibition space on the upper floor, with each exhibit revolving around a distinct theme. During my previous visit, the theme centred on sustainability (yawn). However, this time around, the atmosphere was far more exhilarating as they were commemorating 100 Years of BMW Motorrad, showcasing a stunning array of their motorcycles. Although I’m not particularly well-versed in motorcycles, I can certainly admire their aesthetic appeal.


Please pardon my ignorance as I know next to nothing about bikes.






They do look cool though.



If I had a Bike license, a Nine-T is what I’d like to ride.




Circling back down after the exhibit, it was time to say goodbye to the Welt once again and head back into town. Thanks for reading!

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Having explored the Welt and the Museum, let’s venture to another destination for those who wish to kickstart their Bavarian day with a dose of automotive delight. Situated a short distance from the city centre in Freimann, Motorworld is a veritable treasure trove of automotive wonders representing a wide array of manufacturers. It serves not only as a collective of showrooms but also functions as a storage facility, an event venue, workshops, and even hosts cafes and boutiques, all tailored to satiate our gasoline-fueled passions.


Oh, and here’s an added bonus – Motorworld opens its doors at 7:30 am too! If you happen to visit on weekdays, you’ll find that one of the cafes within Motorworld, Caffè Pol GmbH, starts serving at 8 am. It’s the ideal place to kickstart your day.

Having frequented Motorworld on several previous occasions, my intention for today was to make a relatively short visit before relishing the remainder of the day in the city, perhaps picking up anything interesting in the memorabilia store along the way.




Located within the premises of Motorworld in Munich, McLaren’s primary showroom consistently offers a captivating array of vehicles. During my previous visit, I had the pleasure of witnessing both a Speedtail and a Senna GTR on display. This time around, an Elva graced the showroom, which was already quite remarkable. However, the true highlight was another car, one that held an even more intriguing allure. You’d never be able to guess.


This is it. What exactly is it? This is a 1969 McLaren M12 Coupe. While the McLaren F1 might be their first official road car, this particular M12 was in fact the first-ever McLaren to hit the streets, albeit somewhat unofficially after being made “street legal” in France by one of its previous owners.


This McLaren M12 Coupe #60-14 remains the only one of its kind that has retained its original Big Block Chevy V8 engine and it has been shown at many concours events. It was even on loan for several months as a display car at the McLaren factory and if you have the means, you can buy it. How much? Well, if you had to ask…


A little further down the luxury ladder of showrooms in Motorworld is Morgan. While not quite as exotic as a McLaren I can imagine these cars being just as fun to throw down a winding countryside road.


With a curb weight of just slightly over 1,000 kilograms, I can only imagine the sheer driving pleasure these cars must offer when it comes to driving.


Of course, when we talk about “Sheer Driving Pleasure,” we can’t overlook Munich’s very own Bayerische Motoren Werke. Unsurprisingly, BMW has its own dedicated space within these halls, known as the BMW Studio. Here, they showcase a rotating selection of curated cars, adding to the overall automotive delight of the venue.


On this occasion, their exhibit featured an absolutely stunning 1600Ti. Fresh from BMW Group Classic, this particular unit was in impeccable condition. I can only dream. And yet again, while the sight of a lovely 1600 would make most BMW fans giddy with excitement, they had another vehicle on display that was unquestionably even more exceptional and undoubtedly of a significantly higher value.


That car ladies and gents, is the Ken Done Group A E30 M3. This remarkable vehicle is one of the two E30 M3 racing cars commissioned by BMW in 1989 to a pair of Australian painters. With the second car going to Michael Jagamara Nelson.


Through deep immersion in encyclopedias and the natural environment that enveloped him, Done cultivated a profound fascination with nature. He developed a special affinity for animals, especially creatures like butterflies, parrots, and fish.


For his Art Car, Ken Done aimed to encapsulate the joyful essence of modern Australia. To achieve this, the M3 was adorned with a vibrant palette of exotic colours, reflecting the vitality of his homeland. He incorporated quintessentially Australian elements, such as the sun, beaches, and tropical landscapes, as well as abstract interpretations of the animals which had been hallmarks of his previous artistic endeavours.


This particular E30 M3 boasts an impressive racing history preceding its transformation. It achieved remarkable success by claiming victory in Class B for eight out of the nine rounds during the 1987 season. Additionally, it secured outright victories, even outpacing more potent Class A rivals, most notably a Nissan Skyline GTR32 driven by Glenn Seton. After its illustrious racing career, it transitioned into a serene retirement, taking on a new life as a rolling sculpture displayed in museums and galleries.



As one might anticipate in a facility of this kind, automotive marvels are not limited to the showrooms alone; you’ll encounter vehicles adorning the expansive corridors throughout the venue.


The hallways also provide some interesting backdrops for photographs.



Here, it’s not about having a collection of million-dollar dream cars; it’s about featuring vehicles that are captivating and intriguing in their own right. Like this pair of Fiat Cinquecentos!


What about this gorgeous Giulia?


However, considering that Motorworld also serves as a storage facility for collectors, you can often find some high-performance machines discreetly shielded behind protective glass.


Like, say, a Stratos…



Or, perhaps, a Porsche 935/K3/K4.



Or something a tad “tamer”? Like this BB-Auto 911 to round off the visit?


As I finished my rounds and found nothing of interest (within my budget anyway) to purchase in the shops, it was time to head back into town, but not without walking through the carpark of course where some interesting cars might be lurking, like this lovely 911 Speedster.

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Similar to Tokyo, Munich is a city I have yet to grow tired of visiting. While it may not overwhelm the senses like Japan’s capital, Munich’s charm, delightful cuisine, and easy access to the beautiful sights of Bavaria solidify its place as one of my favourite destinations. The main city itself is also very walkable and getting around on the U-Bahn and S-bahn is a breeze (with Google Map’s help of course).



For this leg of my vacation, I stayed at the WDREI hotel, located just behind the Hermes boutique along Maximilianstraße, Munich’s premier luxury shopping street, right next to the heart of the city at Marienplatz. I cannot recommend this hotel enough; the rooms are spacious, its location is perfect, the staff is friendly, and it’s reasonably priced.


The only downside? Well, there are two, actually. One is that there is no TV in the room, so if you’re someone who must have a television, too bad. The second, which is the more significant drawback, is that the WDREI is only a pop-up hotel. Yes, a pop-up hotel, operating out of a space earmarked for redevelopment. So, chances are, by the time you are reading this, it might be too late.


With my automotive geek-out session completed for this trip, I found myself with a day or two to explore the sights of München once again. Having visited a couple of times before, I opted to skip the typical tourist activities and instead spent the day leisurely strolling around Marienplatz and its neighbouring districts.


The first stop in the morning in Munich is, of course, grabbing a cup of coffee. For that, the two places I like to drop by are either Kaffeerösterei in Viktualienmarkt or Sweet Spot Kaffee, a short walk away. Both are great morning options, but since Kaffeerösterei opens earlier at 7:30 am compared to Sweet Spot’s 8:30 am, it’s where I go most mornings before I start the day. As you might have read in my BMW Welt story.



Viktualienmarkt is a fantastic place for grabbing lunch. Not much of a beer drinker myself, I tend to skip the Biergarten and opt for either Caspar Plautz or the Muenchner Suppenkueche, with Caspar Plautz being one of my top recommendations. This casual sit-down spot specializes in potato dishes. While it may sound simplistic, the ever-present long queues serve as a testament that there’s much more going on than just slapping some butter on a spud! It’s a must-visit for me every time I’m in Munich.


For those yearning for a taste of home without venturing to an Asian restaurant, I suggest giving Muenchner Suppenkueche a try. They offer curried soups and stews that you can enjoy with rice.


Situated right next to the heart of one of Germany’s wealthiest cities, there is certainly no shortage of fascinating machines in motion around Viktualienmarkt. However, every now and then, something truly exceptional catches the eye. During this trip, it was the Z8. Encountering this car casually parked by the curb was wild.


And, of course, being in the middle of BMW city, there were plenty of admirers passing by.



While there are also plenty of shops to explore along the main shopping avenue of Marienplatz, for auto enthusiasts, there’s a particular store situated at the end (or beginning, depending on your starting point) that’s a must-visit.



Located at Karlsplatz, the shop is named Obletter, with the ground level primarily featuring children’s toys. However, take the escalator down, and you’ll be greeted with an array of treasures to fuel your inner automotive enthusiast. This is one of my go-to places every time I’m in Munich. In fact, I usually drop by two or three times per trip!


They have a fantastic array of Schucos and smaller-scale cars. Easy to bring home!


I had to grab a couple.


For younger-uns, they have a ton of Bruders too!


I think I’d be pretty happy to have one of these if I was a kid. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having one of these now.



And for the slightly older kids. Probably a slippery slope down if I ever start.


For those with loftier ambitions, this is a Playmobile.



But if you prefer to stay grounded.


Right outside Obletter is a Mcdonald’s for those wanting a quick snack. Like a limited edition McFlurry.


For those with a penchant for luxurious items, consider exploring Maximilianstrasse, as mentioned earlier—a street adorned with prestigious brands. If shopping isn’t your priority, Maximilianstrasse also serves as an excellent spot to admire an array of interesting cars! I saw a 300SL Gullwing parked here on my previous visit.



Yes, there are many Porsches in Munich.


But sometimes, you get something a little odder.



While not really anything special to most people I am quite fond of the VW UP! I think there are great cars with amazing packaging. Bonus points for this funkier Cross UP!


Located not far from my hotel, I spotted a (at the time) brand new M3 Touring in full stealth mode. Black seems to be a popular choice for such cars in Germany unlike the gaudier colours seen back home.



Yes, there were quite a few curious looks at this car too with a few also stopping to grab a photo.


Great spec.




Before I conclude, here’s a final dinner recommendation: Zum Alten Markt. Positioned near the Viktualienmarkt, the exceptional culinary experience on my last night in Munich was the perfect way to wrap up my visit. It’s undoubtedly on my “must-return-in-the-future” list.



Contrastingly, Ratskeller, disappointingly, has found its place on my “will never go back” list. Although the food was still decent, their service proved exceptionally poor. After subjecting me to a prolonged wait for both my meal and bill, and seating me in a secluded area of the restaurant, they audaciously insisted on a tip of at least 20%. This experience marked the first time I’ve encountered such a situation in all my visits to Germany.


That said, it was time to end the night.


Next stop, Milan Italy!

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