We came because of the cars,” says Bill Williams, “and we keep coming back because of the people.”
For the last seven years, BMW connoisseurs like Williams have been coming to Dobson, North Carolina for Vintage at the Vineyards, and they’ve been doing so in ever-increasing numbers.
“I vividly remember standing beside [event organizer] Scott Sturdy early in the morning at the first Vintage at the Vineyards,” Williams says. “No cars had arrived yet, and he looked at me and said, ‘Do you think anyone will come?’ Well, that year 55 cars did, and this year over 300 came.”
The vintage BMWs in attendance numbered 308, to be precise, along with more than a thousand people from as far away as the state of Washington.
And that, of course, is fairly ironic, considering that Sturdy conceived Vintage at the Vineyards as a local event.
“What really possessed me to start this event was that VintageFest in Chicago and the various ’02 Fests were all so darned far away,” he says. “I wanted to create something for the vintage BMW owners in North Carolina and the surrounding states. I also felt the BMW CCA Tarheel Chapter needed something on the calendar that wasn’t a track event.”
Having chosen the picturesque Shelton Vineyard as a backdrop, and with some great driving roads and interesting towns nearby, the event couldn’t help but attract BMW enthusiasts from all over, even in its first year. 2002 owners represent the biggest contingent—116 brought their ’02s to Dobson this year, including Williams and his 1972 tii—but BMW fans of every stripe are represented. Lothar Schuettler brought a 1937 328 that won the “Pick of the Litter” award presented by Doxie Acre Dachshund Rescue. Pat Kikendal drove to the vineyard in a freshly restored 1973 2002 tii that took home the BMW CCA Foundation “Choice” award as well as the “Fan Favorite” award conferred by the crowd, which also honored Roy Wicklund’s 1988 Alpina B7 turbo, Anita Patton’s 1987 M6 and Tom Mwaniki’s 1990 325i with trophies.
In the grand scheme of things, the awards were perhaps the least important things at Vintage at the Vineyards. Even though the judging is done with professionalism, neither clipboards nor Q-tips were observed by Bimmer. As Williams noted earlier, Vintage at the Vineyards is more about camaraderie than competition.
“The cars are nice, but the sheer numbermakes it a challenge to see them all,” Williams says. “For me, the event is about being with friends. Through the cars, we’ve become friends with incredible people.”
Still, classic BMWs remain the raison d’etre for events like Vintage at the Vineyards, and we’ve chosen a few to feature on these pages. The selection is wholly arbitrary, reflecting the author’s biases and making no attempt to reflect the show as a whole, which in any case is constantly evolving.