x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Conserving the classics

For Karl Baumer, being in charge of BMW's classic cars is a little ironic, considering his history with the company.

For Karl Baumer, being in charge of BMW's classic cars is a little ironic, considering his history with the company. "I've always had an interest in classic cars," he says, "even though most of my time with the company I was responsible for the future." Baumer is head of BMW Group Classic, the car maker's division that restores its vehicles. He also heads up BMW Welt in Munich, a customer experience facility, and the BMW Museum, home to 150 of the company's 650 classic cars and motorcycles.

Baumer acknowledges he himself is part of BMW's history; he started at the company in 1982 as an advisor for cost engineering. He went on to manage 5 Series production and, later, was in charge of product strategy for the group. Before his latest stint, he was the head of engineering at Rolls-Royce. "The Phantom is my baby," he boasts. In his new role, Baumer leads the Group Classic in bringing classic BMWs to the public.

"We started early in the year offering customers to service their cars, to restore them, and now even trading them. We buy them, restore them, and sell them with our certificate." Two of these - a 1979 M1 and 1975 CSL - will be auctioned off in October by Bonhams in Dubai. For Baumer, moving from the future to the past in BMW is a natural step. "On the one hand, I was so long at the strategy job that I wanted to do something else. I had such a passion for classic cars and, when you're so long at a company, you can already say 'you by yourself are a classic and you have accompanied the history here.' So it's nice to be responsible for that area when you're at the last years of your career; it's a good time to be there in the company."

* Neil Vorano