In Decemer, 1998 I bought myself a new car, a 1999 BMW 540iA Sport. I ordered the car through BMW's European Delivery program, and took delivery in Munich, Germany. Here are some pictures from the trip.
For more about the car itself, please see my car's own home page.
An in-flight map (800x600 JPG)
The Northwest Airlines flight featured a GPS-driven map of the course and current position of the aircraft. Here, it highlights Tonopah, Nevada, which is near the so-called Area 51 test site.
Tonopah, Nevada (800x600 JPG)
This is what we saw out the window a few minutes later, when Tonopah was slightly behind the right side of the aircraft. I can't identify everything visible in this picture, so perhaps some of them are UFOs. Or they could just be dust specks, scratches on the window, or lens flares.
The car itself (1024x768 JPG)
This is how the car was delivered to me at the BMW Niederlassung delivery center in Munich.
The dashboard (1024x768 JPG)
Here's the interior of the car. It's got the new-for-the-US Steptronic semi-automatic transmission, the navigation system, the M-Technik steering wheel, and a cheap temporary plastic floor mat on the driver's side.
The front tire (800x600 JPG)
This picture shows the 15-spoke alloy wheels and the big disk brakes.
The engine compartment (1024x768 JPG)
My 540i is equipped with this 4.4-liter, 282-HP, 324-lb-ft V-8 engine. This engine will accelerate the car from 0 to 60 in about 5.6 seconds with the manual transmission, or about 5.8 seconds with the Steptronic semi-automatic transmission I chose.
Pamela at the Deutsches Museum (1024x768 JPG)
Pamela and I spent a day at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, perhaps the world's biggest museum of technology. Its aerospace section is just a small part of the overall collection, but it compares well to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Here's Pamela looking up from one of the exhibits.
An airplane engine (1024x768 JPG)
Here's an engine that probably weighs more than my whole car, and certainly produced more power, at least before it was cut open to create an exhibit for the Deutsches Museum. There are dozens of engines on display there, ranging from tiny little piston engines for model airplanes up to current high-bypass jet turbines for passenger aircraft.
An experimental rocketplane (768x1024 JPG)
The Deutsches Museum has a lot of interesting old experimental aircraft, including this German vertical-takeoff rocket plane.
Hohenschwangau castle (1024x768 JPG)
A nice shot of Hohenschwangau Castle, the home of Bavaria's King Ludwig I.
Neuschwanstein castle (1024x768 JPG)
This is certainly the best-known castle in Germany, and among the best known in the world. It was used as a model for Disney's version of Cinderella Castle, so they say. There aren't many good places from which to photograph it, and we weren't allowed to take any pictures of the interior of this castle or Hohenschwangau during the brief tours. Neither is especially impressive overall, though King Ludwig II's throne room in Neuschwanstein is pretty much world-class.
Peter and Pamela (1024x768 JPG)
The two of us together, at the edge of a lake just to the left of the picture of Hohenschwangau above.
Map of Hahn (1280x512 JPG)
Death, from above (630x470 JPG)
We visited Flugplatz (airport) Hahn, formerly the US Air Force's Hahn AB. I spent 1982 and 1983 living on Hahn when I was in USAF. Since then, it's been transformed into a small civil airfield, used mostly for cargo transshipment operations (there's a good-sized Air France air-cargo facility on the field now). This is a map of the facility, showing all the government and private business offices located on it.
This picture was taken from the guard tower inside Hahn's special weapons storage facility, which has been totally decommissioned. I probably wasn't supposed to go up into the tower; they'd removed about half of the first flight of stairs, but I just climbed up the handrails. You can see the double fence structure, still with its original concertina wire, and the edge of one of the gates-- now permanently blocked open. I've also prepared a brief QuickTime movie (8 seconds, 720K) that pans across this part of the base and shows my car parked at the base of the tower. You can see that many other people had visited the tower just since the last snowfall. The movie requires Apple's QuickTime 3.0 for Mac or PC.
Bernkastel-Kues (1024x768 JPG)
Bernkastel-Kues is a pair of small towns on opposite sides of the Mosel river. We spent two nice days in and around here, as much because the weather was nicer here than any other place we visited on the trip. You can see vineyards on the Bernkastel side, on the right side of the picture. This shot was taken from a small castle ruin above the town.
The Bernkastel ruin (768x1024 JPG)
Here's the ruin itself, which is surrounded by vineyards. The ruin has actually been converted into a cafe/restaurant, though it was closed for the winter. Note there's no snow on the ground here-- a rarity during our trip.
Bernkastel at night (1024x768 JPG)
This shot was taken from the bridge about an hour after sunset. The four-second time exposure makes everything look brighter than it really was. The sky was quite black to the naked eye, causing the ruin to appear to be floating above the town. Even so, this picture came out very well, I think.
Here's what I really went to Germany for.
On the autobahns, on several occasions when weather and traffic allowed, I reached speeds over 140 mph. Once, shown here, I topped 155 MPH-- the rated top speed of the 540i. The picture above was captured from a video. You can download a QuickTime movie (1 minute, 17 seconds; 4.9M) of the video that shows the car accelerating under full throttle from about 80 mph to the final 155+ MPH speed. This video also requires QuickTime 3.0 for Mac or PC.
After eight days of zooming around Germany, this is what the back of the car looked like.