Readers may recall my past blogs when I competed in Targa Tasmania in my E30 M3 tarmac rally car? Prior to that, I had owned an E46 M3 as a daily driver when living in the US and then an E28 M5 purchased from Barney when I returned to the UK. It later came with us when we moved to Sydney and was a joy for 6 years and 60,000 miles. After it was sold to be replaced by a “modern”, I missed it so much that a planned trip to London for a wedding prompted a call to Barney: “I need an interesting car for a Euro tour with the family.” Eventually, we agreed on a 1988 M6 Highline that Barney had known for 19 years and was, naturally, in superb condition. So my family of four climbed in after a long flight from Australia and off we set. Destination the mountains near Graz, Austria. A sensational opportunity to savour some German Autobahns on the way there, and a few alpine passes on the way back.
First night was Brugge. Delightful medieval city well worth a trip if you’ve not been. From there, a quick blast to Cologne to stay with friends for 2 nights. The Kolomba church/museum restored by Peter Zumpthor alone is worth the trip! Then the big one: Cologne to Graz in a day, Autobahn all the way! It always marvels me how disciplined the Germans are when driving. And naturally, that is the only reason that they can continue to have unrestricted roads and a reasonable fatality level. Although it was a weekday with plenty of lorries traffic, and rained all the way, the drive was wonderful. This was precisely the kind of travel this car was designed for: effortless, elegant, comfortable, fast touring. We sat on 115-120mph, when possible, and had a terrific stint at 135mph for nearly 15 minutes. Although 25 years old, the car is still quick by modern standards, with plenty of torque to make overtaking a real joy. And the engine and exhaust noise of an M88 on full throttle at high revs is just as satisfying as I had recalled. Is there truly a better sounding BMW motor?
After 4 nights in Austria it was time to depart. A long time rally competitor, I am always happiest in a great car climbing an alpine pass. So the route home naturally included the GrossGlockner. If you’ve not driven this pass, put it on the bucket list. But make sure you go in the off season to avoid slow tourist traffic. From there we wound our way through the Austrian and German alps, on a mix of A and B roads inter spiced with Autobahn. A night in Alsace for a welcome respite from Germanic food, then another in Normandy, before taking the old girl home to Barney, to be safely stored until we return for our next Euro tour to escape the Tasmanian winter.
So after a “ball tearer” of a wedding for 250 with 3 DJs flown in from Ibiza to entertain us, it was the end of a truly memorable holiday and time for the dreaded long haul flight home. And as good as the wedding reception was, on reflection, the highlight was the time spent in the car. 2500 miles in 10 days driving as fast as possible safe in the knowledge that it would perform faultlessly all the way. And so it was: absolutely faultless and wonderfully enjoyable all the way. Who else could you call from the other side of the world to source you a 25 year old super car for such a trip? Thanks again Barney!
We would like to thank our great friend and customer Kingsley Wallman for ths great ‘Readers Drives’ piece.