A (very) first glimpse of BMW iNext…

At the Annual General Meeting, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Harald Krüger, unveiled an initial design concept for the BMW iNEXT. The pure-electric BMW iNEXT will be built at Plant Dingolfing from 2021. The company’s new technology flagship incorporates all major strategic areas of innovation in a road-ready vehicle. It is not much to go for yet, but nevertheless, a silhouette is a silhouette, but at eleast the shareholders, and you dear reader, got an idea of it.

Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, commented: “The iNEXT project is our building kit for the future. It will benefit the entire company and all our brands. For the first time, we are combining all key technologies for future mobility in one vehicle. The iNEXT is fully electric, fully connected and also offers highly automated driving. Later this year, we will be presenting the BMW iNEXT as a Vision Vehicle.”

We are indeed keen to see more of this soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Mercedes star shines again in the Mille Miglia 2018…

The love affair between the three pointed star and the Mille Miglia is now nine decades old.

The legendary successes include the victory of Rudolf Caracciola as the first non-Italian driver in 1931, with his co-driver Wilhelm Sebastian in a Mercedes-Benz SSKL (“Super Sport Short Light”). I included here my drawing based on the historical photo taken at the finish, drawn with ink pen and 2B pencil, focusing on the drivers, bringing them more in detail.  

Then there is the sensational success of Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson in 1955, with the overall victory and a still unbeaten record time of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds. In 1955 Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson drove the 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S) to overall victory ahead of their team mate Juan Manuel Fangio.


Mille Miglia 1955: Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson on the way to overall victory in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S), with the best time ever achieved in the Mille Miglia, 1 May 1955.

Also triumphant were the 300 SL “Gullwing” sports cars (W 198) in the Gran Turismo class over 1,300 cc displacement, and the 180 D (W 120) won a victory in the diesel class.

In 1956, in addition to several 300 SL “Gullwing” cars and three luxury class saloons of the 220 “Ponton” (W 180) model, a privately entered Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121) also competed successfully in the race.

 


Mille Miglia 2017: Mercedes-Benz Classic cars. Left to right: 300 SL racing sports car (W 194), 190 SL (W 121), 300 SL “Gullwing” Coupés (W 198). Stage from Brescia to Padua, 18 May 2017.

In 2018, a large contingent of the Mercedes-Benz models SSK (W 06), 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198), 190 SL (W 121) and 220 “Ponton” (W 180) vehicles will be lining up at the start in Brescia. Among others, Mercedes-Benz Classic brand ambassadors Roland Asch, Ellen Lohr, Bernd Mayländer and Bernd Schneider will be at the wheel of the vehicles.


Mercedes-Benz Classic at the Mille Miglia 2017. Ellen Lohr in a 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, built from 1954 to 1957).

Today’s version of the “1000 Miglia” is run on a route which closely follows that of the original road race. This year, the first stage (16 May 2018) will lead from Brescia to Cervia-Milano Marittima, and then on to Rome on the second day (17 May). The route to Parma is on the agenda on the third day (18 May), before the rally returns to Brescia on the fourth day (19 May). Entry is restricted to vehicle models that already participated in the famous Italian road race during the period from 1927 to 1957.

Museo Mille Miglia: Public starting ramp with famous racing cars


Public starting ramp with famous racing cars: Special exhibition of Mercedes-Benz Classic in the courtyard of the Museo Mille Miglia, Brescia, 10 May to 21 June 2018. Visualisation of the installation. At left, the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194, 2nd and 4th place in the Mille Miglia 1952), at right the 300 SLR (W 196 S, 1st and 2nd place 1955).

The ties between the brand and the racing tradition are also underlined by the cooperation between Mercedes-Benz Classic and the Museo Mille Miglia in the historical monastery complex of Sant’Eufemia della Fonte just outside Brescia.


Detail of the left side of the starting ramp, with the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194, 2nd and 4th place in the Mille Miglia 1952).

This year, Mercedes-Benz is putting on an extraordinary special exhibition in the courtyard of the museum: every visitor can drive his vehicle on a starting ramp as is typical for the Mille Miglia. He can position his vehicle for a photo between two famous Mercedes-Benz racing cars which caused a sensation at the Mille Miglia with their successes: the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194) from 1952 (2nd and 4th place) and the 300 SLR (W 196 S) from 1955 (1st and 2nd place).


Mille Miglia 1952: Premiere of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car (W 194). The team Rudolf Caracciola / Peter Kurrle (start number 613) finishes in 4th place, 3/4 May 1952.

This staging can be seen and used from 10 May to 21 June 2018.

Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge 2018”

Apart from the actual competition, this is also down to programme items such as the Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge 2018”.

The participants in the Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge” will drive ahead of the classic cars on the same route and will compete in the same special stages. Vehicles permitted to take part in the Challenge are Mercedes-Benz SL models of various generations and vehicles from Mercedes-AMG plus models of particular historical value from the product history.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

 

 

Mille Miglia 2018: the Alfa Romeo legend lives on more than ever…

 

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The 36th edition of the iconic race coincides with the 90th anniversary of the first of the 11 victories Alfa Romeo recorded from 1927 to 1957: a record which will now never be beaten.

This anniversary will be celebrated on 19 May, when the race will pay a visit to Milan and to the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo at Arese, where time trials will be held on the internal circuit. Held for the 36th time this year, the race will be run over the traditional Brescia-Rome-Brescia route and will star Alfa Romeo both as Automotive Sponsor and as “guest of honour”, as this year marks the 90th anniversary of its first victory in the legendary race, held from 1927 to 1957.

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From 19 May to December 2018, the Museum will host the “11 volte campione” [11 times champion”] exhibition, which celebrates these sporting exploits, engraved in the memories of fans all over the world.

Inaugurated on 24 June 2015, the fascinating Museo Storico Alfa Romeo – known as “The Time Machine” – is the heart of a real “brand centre”, created by a major upgrading project by architect Benedetto Camerana, which brings together the brand’s past, present and future. As well as the area displaying the key models from the Alfa Romeo historic collection, the site is buzzing and vibrant, with the Archive, the internal circuit, the events spaces, the Alfa Romeo Café and the show-room with delivery area. More on this museum in a special report.

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Competing in this year’s race will be several wonderful classic Alfa Romeo cars from the FCA Heritage collection: from the 6C 1500 SS to the 6C 1750 GS, and from the 1900 SS to the 1900 Sport Spider.

On 19 May, drivers Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc from the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team currently taking part in the 2018 Formula 1 championship will also be present. Their participation is a tangible sign of how indelibly the racing world is engraved in the Alfa Romeo DNA… we just let you look here at the photos, and tell you also soon more about other iconic brands participating at the Mille Miglia 2018…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes brings all-new A Class: small is now (very) big…

Mercedes-Benz A 180 d, Progressive, mountaingrau, Leder macchiatobeige/schwarz.;Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 4,5-4,1 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 118-108 g/km* Mercedes-Benz A 180 d, Progressive, mountain grey, Leather macchiato beige/black;Fuel consumption combined: 4,5-4,1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 118-108 g/km*

The Mercedes-Benz A 180 d,  more stylish than ever in mountain grey, ;Fuel consumption combined: 4,5-4,1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 118-108 g/km.

The smallest Mercedes is more than ever a true Mercedes. It breaks not only new ground in body styling, also its new cabin layout is a big step forward, and then we said nothing about its formidable touchscreen and enhanced connectivity and infotainment, which was hitherto unseen in its class. An important Mercedes, and therefore we tell you here more about it…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Mercedes brings all-new A Class: small is now (very) big…”

BMW Group Classic and its new Centre…

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Of course, BMW also has a magnificent museum, but here we focus first on their new Centre, which was opened in 2016. We present you here some factory photos; needless to say that we are keen to visit the centre, and bring you then an extensive report with own interviews and images, but in the meantime, we shouldn’t already keep this from you…

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The company archive and the vehicle collection, the workshop and the customer centre together with the parts service for classic automobiles and motorcycles are now located together in an ensemble of buildings in the district of Milbertshofen in Munich.

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The site at Moosacher Straße 66 measuring around 13,000 square meters includes one of the first production buildings of what was at that time still a fledgling company.

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In this building, magnificent BMW motorcycles are also displayed, what to think of this iconic and timeless boxer? 

It was preserved during the restoration work, as was the heritage gatehouse, which is today a listed building, and now forms the entrance to the history of the BMW Group.

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The new location for BMW Group Classic also provides a touch point for owners and fans of classic vehicles of the brands BMW, MINI und Rolls-Royce with information and services relating to the preservation and care of their automobiles and motorcycles.

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Vehicles and numerous other exhibits from the comprehensive collection of BMW Group Classic are presented in the historic production hall, like their fantastic aircraft engines. (see photo above). The facilities and event spaces created there can also be booked for events. Guided tours are offered to give participants an overview of the new venue and provide information about the history of the company.

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Café “Mo 66” is open to visitors and gives them a vantage point looking directly into the glass covered vehicle workshop of the BMW Group Classic Centre.

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At its new location, BMW Group Classic has now better facilities for staging activities relating to the history of the company and its three brands BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce. Questions about the history of the company, brands and products are answered by using the vast BMW Group Archives. The teams responsible for communication with the media and for marketing now also carry out their work in the new centre alongside the specialists involved in organizing events and exhibitions.

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The staff of the BMW Group Classic Centre have a long track record of experience, expertise and passion. They work on the preservation and restoration of historic automobiles and motorcycles, and offer support for purchasing or selling a classic vehicle. We are keen to meet them and present you then an in depth report about their work. The offering of BMW Group Classic also includes the loan of classic vehicles and the parts shop. The range of parts offered comprises more than 55 000 items and it is continuously growing. Of course, the happy owners of collectables on four wheels and two will benefit from this supply of original spare parts…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Jaguars will race again at the Le Mans Classic 2018…

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The spectacular Le Mans Classic event features on the international 2018 Jaguar Classic Challenge calendar for pre-1966 Jaguar cars, and that is good news for all the Jag enthusiasts.

This Jaguar Classic Challenge returns for its fourth consecutive season, giving owners of pre-1966 race-prepared Jaguar C-types, D-types, E-types, XKs and saloons the opportunity to compete in five 55-60-minute races at prestigious race weekends across the UK and Europe.

Jaguar Le Mans Classic 2016 7th-10th July 2016 World Copyright: Nick Dungan/Patrick Gosling/Beadyeye Ref: JAGUAR-LEMANS-CLASSIC-2016-PG-1295.CR2
Jaguar Le Mans Classic 2016
7th-10th July 2016

The biennial Le Mans Classic event, held on the iconic Circuit de la Sarthe in France – which is where Jaguar scored seven 24-hour race wins between 1951 and 1990 – joins the calendar for 2018, alongside the UK-based Donington Historic Festival, Silverstone International Trophy and Oulton Park Gold Cup, plus the Spa Six Hours in Belgium.

The return to Le Mans Classic on 6-8 July is especially poignant as 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the Jaguar XJR-9 LM’s win at the 24-hour race. Current Jaguar Classic Chief Test Driver Andy Wallace took victory in 1988 alongside Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries.

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A look at the Jaguar Classic Challenge calendar shows the following dates: 4-6 May: Donington Historic Festival, Leicestershire, 16-17 June: HSCC Silverstone International Trophy, Northamptonshire,

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6-8 July: Le Mans Classic, Circuit de la Sarthe, France, 25-27 August: The HSCC Oulton Park Gold Cup, Cheshire and last but not least 14-16 September: Spa Six Hours, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Z Story continues – images of an exhibition

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Early this year BMW Belux organized a remarkable exhibition in its BMW Brand Store in Brussels.

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It was the 11th edition of the BMW Art & Design Sessions, and this time it focused on the iconic roadster age which changed automotive history forever since 1955.

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The show was close to breathtaking with on display the very exclusive BMW 507, a pristine Z1, (see photo here above)

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a BMW Z3, a Z4 cabrio and coupé, and last but not least a BMW Z8 (well known from the James Bond films).

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Of course, one looked also to the future, with an exclusive presentation of the BMW Concept Z4.

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We just let you admire our photos here…

Art and design in the BMW Brand Store

Just a few words more about this Brussels BMW Brand Store, situated at the Boulevard de Waterloo. It started life as an Experience Center of the German premium brand, and on January 21 2015 this BMW Brand Store launched the concept ‘Art & Design Sessions’.

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Within this concept, an artist or designer presents his work and meets invited people in an exclusive event. The Antwerp photographer Marc Lagrange, designer Xavier Lust, artists Yann Guitton and Hervé Poulain, Nicolas Destino and last but not least iconic photographer Terry O’Neill filled the first editions of the Art & Design Sessions in the BMW Brand Store.

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Just for the record, Hervé Poulain is the retired French racing driver and professional auctioneer who instigated the BMW Art Project, where artists could use BMW automobiles as their canvas. In 1975 he commissioned Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car…

As said, enjoy my photos!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Volvo brings its XC40 to the Brussels Show…and meets avid buyers.

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On the introduction of the XC40 at the Brussels Show, Managing Director of Volvo Belux, Wim Maes, commented on future plans and commercial results…

In November last year, the production of Volvo Cars’ first ever small premium SUV started off at the Volvo Cars plant in Ghent. The car is meeting great interest, and indeed orders are streaming in by the thousands already.

With the XC40, Volvo completes its SUV line-up, and gets a firm foothold in the fastest growing segment of the automotive industry. Together with the XC60 and de XC90, Volvo has a strong set of cards indeed in this segment…

We saw the XC40 for the first time “in the flesh” here, and indeed it looks pleasing and well balanced.

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At the presentation of the XC40, managing director of Volvo Belux, Mr. Wim Maes, commented on the car and the commercial results and perspectives of Volvo both globally and for the Belgian market, together with the Managing Director of the Ghent plant, Eric Van Landeghem.

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Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Volvo brings its XC40 to the Brussels Show…and meets avid buyers.”

Brussels Motor Show 2018: witnessing the European Premiere of the BMW X2…

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Needing some extra photos of BMW people we interviewed, and of which you will read much more soon on these columns, we took the occasion to witnessing the remarkable premiere of the BMW X2 on the Brussels Show.

It was a stunning spectacle, and we just show you here the photos we took, just to let you get a “feel” of what was happening on the BMW stand on January 15 at palace 7 of the Show.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Already since the press day, on Wednesday 10 january, the countdown to the premiere was started off, by pushing a red button by Jean-Philippe Parain, Senior Vice-President Sales Europe BMW (left) and Peter Henrich, President and CEO of BMW Group Belux.

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We show you here also the last minutes and seconds of the countdown, where already two all white painted male dancers took centre stage,

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with an enormous spider-mannequin tucking discreetly behind the curtains of the stand, to prepare his performance…

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A dancer all painted in gold then entered the central stage, wrapped also in a long gold curtain, awaiting the last seconds, and then with a baseball bat virtually broke the windows so to speak, to reveal the blue and yellow colored BMW’s.

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But before the final curtain fell, there was still a performance act with the long legged enormously impressive spider-mannequin and the two white painted dancers.

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A stunning show, which amply reveals how much care and attention automotive brands invest in presenting their products…

Right after the introduction, the automotive press assailed the BMW PR people, and here Corporate Communications Manager Christophe Weerts is answering questions…

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Soon we will report further on what was to be seen at the Brussels show, alongside with the interesting interviews and talks we had, as we announced you in the previous post.

So stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

A range of interviews with a focus on BMW and MINI… its cars and its (electric) future.

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On the Brussels Salon, Dr. Peter Henrich, President and CEO of BMW Group Belux presented us the new i8 roadster, and his dynamic PR Team arranged for us a range of interviews…

The Brussels Salon was an excellent occasion this year to make some very interesting interviews and have some in depth face to face talks and discussions with the people who are shaping our automotive future and individual mobility.

At the 2018 edition of the Brussels Show we focused on BMW and Mini, last but not least thanks to the very dynamic and pro-active PR team of BMW Belux, notably Christophe Weerts, Corporate Communcations Manager and Saschia De Rudder, Corporate Communications, who kindly invited us to have talks and interviews with their important people who visited the Brussels Show.

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Dr. Peter Henrich greeting here Jean-Philippe Parain, stepping here out of the brand new facelifted BMW 2 series Active Tourer…

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Jean-Philippe Parain presenting the many qualities of the BMW 2 series and lifting a veil on the forthcoming novelties, like the X2, which will presented on January 15… 

So we had an interview met Jean-Philippe Parain, Senior Vice-President Sales Europe BMW, zooming in on the BMW sales results in the European market outside Germany,

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Sebastian MacKensen showed us the new MINI’s and a prototype of its full electric version…at the Brussels Show. 

then we had an in depth discussion with Sebastian Mackensen, Senior Vice-President MINI, on the MINI brand and its (bright) future, and we concluded the day with Armin Hultzsch, Head of Project BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer, Marcus Tauchen, Project Management Office BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer and Pascale Goudvis, Product Management BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer. There the 2 series bestseller(s) took centre stage, and we discussed the many challenges involved in designing, developing and producing these impressive BMW’s which represent for some 70 pct of the buyers a first acquaintance with the brand.

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Dr. Peter Quitus, on the left of this picture, in discussion with us, together with Dr. Peter Henrich on the right…

To deepen out things further, we were also invited to participate in two round table discussions, one with Peter Quintus, Sales Manager BMW M GmbH, and secondly but last but not least a long discussion about BMW’s electrification successes, and its future plans and projects in this field, with Robert Irlinger, Senior Vice-President BMWi.

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Dr. Peter Irlinger, discussing with us the electric future of BMW…

Soon you will be treated in these columns to the full interviews and the many interesting insights which were developed here.

Needless to say that the subjects will form an interesting platform for further discussions, and we will deepen them further out over the year, widening them throughout our automotive world.

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel