Special Cars, Special Places

Previewing the upcoming 8-Fest with a drive through the deserted backroads of the Redwood Country, we ponder the incredible loyalty drivers feel toward BMW’s top-shelf coupes and convertibles. Our vehicles of choice? An M6 Convertible and Steve Cohen’s

May 24, 2013
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They call it the Lost Coast, and it’s one of the most remote stretches of California coastline you’ll find anywhere. For those who love driving, it’s a perfect paradise of turns, elevation changes and spectacular scenery. It’s like Highway 1 through Big Sur, but with absolutely no traffic, even on a Saturday afternoon at the tail end of tourist season.

No wonder Steve Cohen chose it for the driving segment of his forthcoming 8-Fest, the West Coast celebration of all things E31. There’s no better place to wring out a BMW like an 8 Series…or the F12 M6 Convertible we’re using to chase down Cohen in his 850i-turned-860i. Cohen’s car started life as an otherwise ordinary 1991 E31 850i coupe, but it’s become much, much more over the last 20-plus years and almost 300,000 miles. In addition to supersizing its V12 engine, Steve has also done everything possible to improve its chassis, upgrading its suspension from stem to stern in the quest for more sportive handling.

That kind of attention may seem excessive, but it’s hardly unusual. Coupes have always been special cars to BMW enthusiasts, and so have convertibles. Where sedans tend to be workaday daily drivers, used and discarded, the coupes and convertibles are cherished for the long haul, driven hard but lovingly cared for, too. They’re also celebrated, and events like 8-Fest, Z-Fest and the various Sharkfests draw hundreds of cars and their owners to enjoy some of the world’s greatest roads in the company of like-minded enthusiasts.

Ten years ago this October, Cohen’s first 8-Fest brought 87 E31 coupes to this isolated region, more than had ever gathered in one place anywhere in the world; six months before the second 8-Fest in 2013, 75 were already signed up. Some were repeat visitors, but plenty more would be attending for the first time, enticed by the prospect of a weekend’s full immersion into the world of the 8 Series.

A top-down GT for

driving enthusiasts

They’re also attracted, no doubt, by the stories they’ve heard about these roads, which are a perfect if punishing test track for high-performance cars like an E31 8 Series or our M6 Convertible.

Also from Issue 116

  • MKO's E9-meets-E39 CS M5
  • 2013 F34 3 Series GT first drive
  • 2012 E84 X1 xDrive 28i road test
  • Interview: Sales chief Ian Robertson
  • Buyer’s Guide: 5 Under $5k
  • ESS Tuning's E60 545i
  • Matt Russell's turbo E30 325i
  • Legends of the Autobahn ’12, with M8!
  • Amelia Island auctions: 3.0 CSL & 327 cabrio
  • How-To: 2002 grille installation
  • Paddock Pass: Z4 at Sebring
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