My 2002 BMW M Coupe was my first BMW, but it was by no means the first BMW my family has owned.  Nearly 30 years ago I was living with my parents on an Army post near Stuttgart W. Germany, where my father was assigned as a UH-1 “Huey” pilot.  This was well before BMW‘s explosion as a world-wide brand, and their cars weren’t that common in the States.  But for service members, European models could be found for very little money, mostly used ones that no longer met the German inspection requirements.  My father purchased a late ’70s E3 sedan and a slightly newer E21 3-series coupe.  I was pretty young at the time, so I can really only recall the sedan was white and the E21 was an unforgettable yellow.  My father got the cars back in running order at the base auto-craft center, and they served as our main conveyance during the tour (unlike the Olds wagon that was shipped over).

Unfortunately, neither of the Bimmers met US safety and emissions standards, and were left behind on our return to the States.  The next 25 some odd years were filled with a Honda, Mazda, Chevrolet, Toyota, and Nissan (my parents keep their cars on average 10 years.)  My father continued to threaten to purchase a BMW motorcycle, multiple mid-life crises later, no Beemer but he does have a John Deere tractor.  Recently my mother’s ’00 Avalon had been giving them trouble, it was time to look for something new.  Car searches for my mother are often a multi-year process, I did mention they keep them for 10+ years.  I, being the family car-guy, was enlisted to help in the search.  I started with the obvious; another Avalon.  From there it went to Infiniti G37, Honda Crosstour, Subaru Legacy, Nissan Altima, Infiniti QX37, Volvo S60, Nissan Murano, Buick something or other, Ford Taurus, Lexus ES, Nissan Maxima, Cadillac CTS, Toyota Venza, Audi A3, Audi Q5, BMW 528i, Acura TL, VW CC, BMW X1, even an X3 we kept over night.. you get the picture.

You may notice I didn’t mention the 328i.  While looking at the 5-er and X3, my folks had decided the 3 series was just too “small” despite my suggestions they try it.  I think they were too accustomed to the boat-like proportions (and handling) of the Avalon.  But fortunately they came to their senses and gave the 3 series another chance.  I think the possibility of the F30 coming Stateside as a wagon (formerly “touring” in BMW parlance) in Summer 2013 had piqued their interest as an alternative to a crossover.  Wagons have long since been left in favor of SUVs and crossovers, despite their superior handling, efficiency, and ease of use.  I, for one, still dig wagons, especially sporty ones.  The decision was finally made, and an order was placed for a 2014 Alpine White F31 328ix (wagons are only available as X-drive in the US.)  Then the wait…

The car was ordered to spec, a stripper of sorts, only heated seats and the parking assist on the options.  There were very few, if any, F31s on lots.  I even stopped by a huge dealership in Dallas to find only one in the showroom.  Most that were available were fully trimmed, so my parent’s wagon would come straight from Munich.  They decided to take advantage of the Performance Center delivery, an easy decision given that they live only two hours down the road.  Then the day came, they drove to Greenville to receive the car, along with a swanky hotel stay and apparently some really good German food.

Mom and Dad at Zentrum
They spent the day at the Performance Center, riding shotgun in M5s as they were flogged to death by the pro-drivers.  The center doesn’t have any 328ix Sport Wagons, but they did get the opportunity to take a couple 335ix sedans out on the wet skid pad.  They both made it sound like an incredibly fun time (though they admit nothing like my track days.)  Following the Performance Center, they were taken to the Zentrum at the factory to receive their new car and a run down on all its features.

Mom sitting in her new 328ix for the first time.

Of course I didn’t know any of this until after the fact.  I was under the impression they weren’t taking delivery until mid-October.  I was expecting my parents for a visit in September, where they would also be bringing my 100lbs yellow lab, Claymore.  So I fully expected them to arrive in my father’s Nissan Titan (also white, notice a theme.)  About the time I expected them to arrive, I received a call from my mother saying she rang the doorbell and no one answered.  I hopped up, wondering if they went to the wrong house.  As soon as I opened the door I saw a brand new F31 in the driveway, nice surprise.

Claymore in the Wagon


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