Friday was a bit of a blur. First thing I did was get my room situation straightened out. It was less of a hassle than I had expected (actually, quite simple - Thanks Marriott staff!!!). Putting that to rest, I was finally able to relax and enjoy the event.
I attended the two morning seminars by Michelin and Dinan, and learned a lot about tire technology that I quickly forgot, for the most part. A bit later, Rachel, Dave, and I drove over to the Factory. Rachel recalled Tim UK's comments last year about trolling the factory parking lot. Many of the people who work at the factory have Z3s, and often, BMW tries out different colors of paint, and the workers apparently get first dibs on the colors. So, I looked, but only found one in Phoenix Yellow or another that's Turquoise Green (Thanks Tim!) which did make it into production one year. We wandered around the Zentrum Museum, where we saw some old favorites, and some others (see the full page of Zentrum photos here). Aside from that, they also had a Z8 there, and there was another one over at the Performance Center. I made a page for just these two. Very Nice Car!!!
Later on, we all were scheduled for the same factory tour. This was my second tour, and each time you learn something new. Aside from the engine and transmission, the rest of the car is assembled at the plant, and it's pretty cool to see it being done. Since it was Friday, we got to watch them work, and we asked a lot of questions about the whole process. Always interesting, and really amazing how all of these stamped parts become the roadster we all know and love. It was great seeing shelves and shelves of steering wheels, door panels, and so on just sitting around waiting to be put on. Much of the Z3 is assembled by hand. Some welds and the painting is done robotically, but almost everything else is done manually.
We learned that occasionally, some exterior or trim parts are backordered. Normally, you'd think this would hold up the whole works, but it turns out that the plant has "blanks" that can go in place of the missing parts while the car goes through the assembly process, just so they can make sure everything goes according to plan. After final assembly, these cars are set aside until the parts arrive. I would guess that this only happens to cars and options that aren't ordered as often as others, but nonetheless desirable.
Also, way off in the background, we heard an assembly team give a chant about who makes the best cars. That was cool, and you could tell they meant it.
Also Also, as with any machinery, some problems can occur. Maintenance crews have to come in and service things as necessary. What's amusing about this is that when something requires tending to, an alarm goes off. However, to distinguish what's wrong, rather than just play a chime, the BMW plant plays a couple bars of musical tones, and these help to identify what's wrong. As far as I could tell, Star Trek: The Next Generation needed service (matter/antimatter mix was off?) and also, James Bond needed some assistance from Q, apparently :-)
We did get to see part of the X5 assembly line. That was neat - the engine, transmission, drivetrain, and suspension are placed on a robotic tram car, which moves into position, and is then raised up to the car, where the parts are all attached. As Douglas Adams put it in one of his novels, it's all a Ballet of Technology.
Afterwards, we went on over to the Performance Center, and saw some cars having fun out on the course.
A bit later, we went back to the hotel, where it was time to get ready for the evening at the Peace Center, where we would get our Homecoming swag. The hotel had set up a car wash area, and many of us were out there, cleaning up our cars before the Panoramic picture, but also so we could get our cars clean for the cars lining up Main Street in Greenville. I got a chance to see what JonM from LeatherZ and his cohorts sprucing up Z3Solution Keith's car for the vending area on Saturday.
We got over there, and this year, they had a really good Funk band for us, and we all picked up our dinners in a picnic basket, along with our gift - a very nice metal thermos with the 2000 Homecoming logo etched in. Very cool! I was a little slow on the draw, and almost talked my way into getting a second, but I wasn't too greedy. We chatted with our neighbors, and then walked over to see all the cars. Always a pleasure to see so many Z3s together.
After dinner, we were going to have fun hanging out at the pool with everyone, but the weather had other plans. The rains came, but only after many of us returned to the hotel. I ended up chatting with some of the Texans. Mary Battaglia recounted the story of how a road gator flew up and smacked into her windshield and shattered it while she was on the way to Homecoming. OUCH! She had to drive from Little Rock to Memphis with a shattered windshield because the Little Rock dealer didn't have one, but someone was having one delivered up in Memphis, and if she got there before the person, the windshield was hers. Fortunately, she did get there in time.
A bit later, John B came down to the lobby, and mentioned that Carter Lee was showing an early version of the 1999 Homecoming video upstairs. A bunch of us went up, and enjoyed the tape. I'll order one as soon as it's available. During this time, I drank all of my wine from dinner, which was very good. When I got back to my room, I put in a later wakeup call than I wanted, but I felt that I needed to get a little bit of sleep.
Boy, I can't believe all the stuff I did on Friday. It went by so quickly!
All Pictures are Copyright 2000 by Jon Trudel.
Photos may be reused with permission
More Homecoming Fun
Page 1 - Prep for the trip
Page 2 - The roads not taken
Page 3 - Linking up in Tennessee
Page 4 - Re-Enter the Dragon
Page 5 - Nonstop to Greenville
Page 6 - Friday Flies By
Page 7 - Panoramic Profundity
Page 8 - Tech Tent and Saturday Night Surprises
Page 9 - Sundays are for Sleeping Late
Page 10 - Divergence and Convergence
Page 11 - The Long Way Home
Return to my Z3 Photos page
Drop me an Email, if you dare!