BMWCCA's strange stance on BMW safety
Groucho Marx supposedly said: I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.
In renewing my membership in the BMW Car Club of America (BMWCCA), I am reminded of Marx' quip.
I have been participating in High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) over the past summer, but because of the rules, I have not been able to participate in HPDE events sponsored by BMWCCA. And why? Because the BMWCCA deems my car "unsafe" as delivered from the factory.
And what is the exact nature of this safety problem? It isn't a hard top.
The only way that BMWCCA will allow me to participate in driver education events (not racing, mind you) is if I have an aftermarket roll cage installed — never mind my Z4 ragtop roadster comes with BMW factory roll hoops. Understand, this is for a driver education event, not racing.
I raised the issue of aftermarket roll cage requirements on the BMW forums and was promptly told that the death rate in convertible accidents was well documented. Perhaps my search skills aren't what they should be, but I could not find any solid data to locate the said documentation. The data I did find linked injuries to pre-seat belt era cars. The studies went on to suggest that seat belts were the significant factor in auto safety since the 1960s.
On the q.t., I was told by some BMW people that it had something to do with BMWCCA liability insurance.
At the same time, I was able to enter National Auto Sport of America (NASA) and Porsche Club of America (PCA) driver education events on some of the same tracks without being required to add an aftermarket cage in addition to the roll hoops.
After a recent PCA event, I chatted with some of the organizers and asked why Porsche's policy is different in this regard. One individual, an attorney, said that at one time, the PCA also had a similar rule about after-market roll cages, but upon reflection, questioned the insurance company, reasoning that if Porsche was manufacturing and selling a vehicle that was deemed safe, that that should be sufficient. In the end, the insurance company agreed and the Porsche roll cage policy was rolled back.
Interestingly, after I traded in my 2002 BMW 530i for the 2007 BMW 3.0si Z4, the latter with a higher blue book, my insurance premiums actually went down!
So, I find myself at PCA and NASA events, with some awesome instructors and participants — many from the BMW world, but not at BMW events.
The BMWCCA is in the unenviable position that supports a claim the BMW is selling vehicles that are dangerous without after-market modifications. The manufacturer thinks otherwise.
Safety systems in the BMW Z4 Roadster.
A precisely-designed network of suspension, engine management, brakes and tyres, plus Dynamic Stability Control - all with one single objective: to keep the BMW Z4 Roadster safely on track, even in the most demanding situations. The head-thorax airbags are ideally positioned in the seats and are deployed as needed to deliver split-second protection for the vehicle's occupants, should a collision be unavoidable. And the particularly rigid side sills efficiently distribute energy in the case of a side impact.
In closing, I recount an experience at a PCA event at High Plains Raceway (HPR). I was gridding up and an instructor came over and said hello. He was glad to see I had come out again. He reminded me we met at a NASA event at Pueblo, some weeks earlier. How did I like my BMW Z4? Had I come to the BMWCCA event?
I love the Z4. He had not seen me at the BMWCCA driver's education events because of the after-market roll cage rule.
He said it would be a shame to ruin a beautiful vehicle, like the Z4, with a cage.
Indeed, I mused, so now I was wondering if it did not make sense to trade my Z4 in for a Porsche.
"Going over to the dark side," he laugh good naturedly.
Yes, that might be true, but at least I could be part of a club that would have me as a member.