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      07-19-2014, 02:10 PM   #1
M4TW
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European Delivery Italy - Yeah, I Totally Went There (Long Story)

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Chapter One - Why Italy?

“Forget Italy” is the conventional wisdom when doing ED. Having recently completed my adventure in the land of Fiats and Fortwos, and now that I am safely back in the land of SUV's and Pick-up Trucks, I find myself reflecting on an unforgettable, incredible ED experience with a very very fine automobile. While I am sure that some of its more romantic locales have long been used as a prescription for that other form of ED, I want to make a case for it as an ED destination. Its roads and beautiful cities surely make a convincing argument. Apart from that, who doesn't want to see Italy?

Don't get me wrong, all was not dolchi and gelato in the land of Davids and da Vinci. It wasn't a leisurely gondola ride wheeling my $100K CAN automobile down roads so tight, ox cart drivers used to curse them; or having scooters deflect off an invisible shield inches from my car – like mad flies bouncing off a windowpane; or having someone lay into their horn because I was, god-forbid, taking seconds too long turning myself into a pretzel trying to retrieve Euro coins out of a tiny change bucket at a toll station.

But there were some pretty incredible drives to go along with the undeniable and unmistakable beauty, culture and history of places like Florence, Rome, Venice and Verona. A drive down the Adriatic coast on the Autostrada Adriatica (A14) is a good PTSD treatment after driving in Florence, for instance. That drive brought me to Alba Adriatica, which turned out to be a welcomed respite from the crushing hordes of tourists and tourist trap prices on the Italian Pasta Path. Pull in there and you will discover a seaside town with some of Italy's best beaches and nice long bike trails.

I recognize that it may have been better to rent a villa in the countryside and keep off the beaten path – but the major sties were hard to pass up this time around. I didn't take my M4 on any tracks either, but I did think about trying to get on Circuit Mugello, but never made it past the planning stages. I doesn’t seem like a track that can be driven on off the street, but a few well-placed email inquiries would likely do the trick. You would no more labor in explaining to an Italian why you’d like to drive your beautiful M3/4 on racetrack than you would explaining why you’d like to take your beautiful lady to a hotel room.

Good wine and good food. Good things to see and do. Good drives too. That sums up Italy.

To help others who might consider turning south at Munich, I've put together some tips, tricks and cheat codes that I hope will help. Please feel free to add to them.

Chapter Two - Italy Ed - Tips, Tricks and Cheat Codes

What to pack? I'm a proponent of traveling light and buying a lot of what is needed by way of clothing after arriving. There are a couple of items, however, that are good to bring. Adapters for Germany and Italy for electronic devices are easy to source at most electronics stores. Same goes for a smartphone car charger. I had grand plans for Connected Drive in Europe. I imagined sending google maps to my car from the comfort of my hotel room, calling upon concierge for directions, maps and reservations (the only time I foresaw myself using such a service), and cruising along to Satellite or Internet radio tunes on the Autobahn.

Unfortunately, none of that works for us in Europe.

Basically it's just you and the navi. The Euro maps are loaded courtesy of a thumb drive in the USB port. DO NOT REMOVE IT (I read elsewhere) or you are in for a major headache getting it to work again.

Rounding off the list of things to pack, I would recommend the International Driver's License – not that I had to show it to anyone. As I understand it, it is only required in Austria. But for $25 at your local CAA/AAA shop and a quick turnaround time, it's a small price to pay for peace of mind and holding that document is a good early connection to the adventure ahead.

Insurance I thought Canadians had a rep for being over-insured. In that spirit, I wondered whether I would need to supplement the insurance BMW provided. Turns out, we have nothing on the Germans. The policy BMW provides comes stock with €100 mil worth if liability insurance in case you should accidentally knock over the Munich Tower. There is even bail money of €20,000 or so available to spring your ass out of jail. On the other hand, there are pages of German fine print to go along with it, the requirement to summon the Polizie no matter how minor the damage, and detailed forms and diagrams to complete in the event of a fender bender.

As the friendly and pretty BWM Welt rep was thumbing through this with me, I started to imagine what a horror show it would be getting into an accident in Europe, stranding my family and then having the other driver explain his side of things to the police in their native language. I must confess, my balls shrunk a couple of sizes at that moment.

After 2,700 km of driving, which included some pretty harrowing narrow roads and near misses, I delivered my white M4 to Loginout GmbH Munich Airport, with nary a scratch, dent or blemish of any description.

I'm quite proud of that fact.

D-Day The brochure advises to check in at least 90 minutes before your appointment. I made the rookie mistake of checking in exactly 90 minutes beforehand. Before that, we poked around the Welt facilities and tried to get in the museum. It was closed on Monday. Apparently all German museums are. We got something to eat in the cafeteria and I bought some ///M shirts in the store. Anyway, I should have checked in first and did all that after. They can set you up with tours and grant access to the premium lounge with its great selection of German snacks, treats, drinks and coffee. I got free tickets to the museum that I used when I returned, a keychain with free engraving and a €10 credit to spend in the gift shop. Your swag may vary. Anyway I used the €10 to buy the mandatory safety vests you are supposed have on board.

To their credit, Europeans do use these items when they have a breakdown as well as the warning triangle, I witnessed. Everyone also flicks on their hazards for sudden traffic snarls – preventing a lot of accidents I bet. These are all good road habits that North American drivers should adopt. As well as learning how to respect the left lane!

Driving in Munich As it was late in the day, my liaison lady said that she was having trouble coming up with the proper English words for some of the concepts she was explaining. She described Munich drivers as brutal for instance, and struggled for a better word. Turns out brutal was the perfect word to describe Munich drivers. Not brutal as in bad or lacking skill mind you, but brutal as in cruel and unforgiving. Though the temporary tourist plates should have plainly identified me as a noob driver, no noob leeway was granted on the cruel streets of Munich. I respect them for that. But be prepared that noobs are fair game as soon as you leave the protection of the BMW mother ship. Get your navi destination locked in, your hands upon the wheel, and head on a swivel before driving off the pan and into the fire.

Window stickers Your personal attendant will stick on the required Munich sticker on the inside of your windshield, making you think, stickers ... really? A sticker is also needed for Austria, even if just passing through. A big fine apparently results for skipping this step and getting caught. They can be picked up at any gas station along the way. See if you can figure out when you've crossed into Austria though. Make it into a car game. Same can be said for Italy. It's much more dramatic crossing from Alberta into Saskatchewan, than these significant international borders.

Toll roads In Austria there is a toll system that uses a flat fee and the booths are manned by cheery Austrians. Italy is a different story. On the Autostrada charges are based on usage. Entering the Autostrada requires rolling up to a toll booth to collect an entry ticket. When exiting, payment is similar to an automated parking lot. Drive in the ones with the change or credit card symbols, not the Telepass line. I had thought about ordering one through http://www.tolltickets.com/country/i...spx?lang=en-GB and having it shipped to my hotel in Munich. I wish I had. In spite of its broad capabilities, the M4 does not do toll booths well. The driver's seat sits low in the car with relatively high window sills and protruding sides. This makes it difficult to reach over to stick a ticket/credit card/cash into the slot. I found this to be so even using the parking cameras to draw near enough to be on the threshold for a curb rashing. How nice it would have been to have been able to zip through these gates like a pro even if the price was the same! The tolls are expensive incidentally – the Austrian border to Florence foray cost me about €40 for instance.

Speeding in Italy Italians are pretty indifferent to speed limits it seemed. They're pretty good drivers too all in all, making the Autostrada an enjoyable drive along with its good surfacing and abundant tunnels and corners. There are three types of enforcement measures of which you should be aware. The two main types are an Autovelox which uses fixed cameras and a Tutor system which uses a speed averaging system. The third are rolling or stationary police with radar guns. Warning signs frequently appear. Good luck translating them. I more or less went with the flow of traffic while pushing the envelope slightly. The speed limit on the Autostrada is 130 kph. The thing is that speeding tickets can arrive in the mail many months (even more than a year) later I read and so I'll see if there are any Christmas cards for me from the Stradale Polizia. After I returned I found out that there is actually an app for that - iSpeedCam Italy sells a $.99 app that has the locations of speed cameras mapped and an alert system that works with GPS.

I did have one brush with police after my 2,000 km service. Now that I was free to rev the shit out of my car I thought I would open it up a bit after leaving the parking lot (and yes, I was showing off). First gear, screeeeeech. Second gear, screech. And then I ran straight into a speed trap. The Italian police officer, however, nonchalantly lifted up his radar gun, and let me go by. . Now do you see why I am a fan of Italy?

Inner-city driving Naturally this is to be avoided at all costs. Unless parking at an airport or (better) train station, some is unavoidable - such as booking into a central hotel. Unless you have the Chitty Chitty Bangbang car float edition of the M3/4, parking outside the city is the only option in Venice. Actually parking in Venice turned out to be one of the more hassle-free experiences of the whole trip. We parked at Tronchetto
http://www.veniceparking.it/en/find-...tto%20Parking/
and from there took a water taxi to our hotel (waterbuses are there too for a more economical option). It was easy to find and easy to drive to and surprisingly there were plenty of free stalls which were also North America-sized. €22 a night wasn't bad either. Venice is well worth the visit.

For places like Florence follow one simple rule after you crossing into the no man's land ZTL (restricted zone): DO NOT LISTEN TO YOUR NAVI. Rather use it to locate your destination and then figure out your own route. The Navi girl will direct you into areas closed off to cars, down the wrong way on one-way streets, unto streets where it is not possible to drive a car and others that you will barely clear with your mirrors folded. Meanwhile there are pedestrians everywhere, angry scooters scooting by and angry little cars making angry little car sounds behind you.

Most of this can be avoided with some advance planning and the right route will take you safely to your hotel.

Before driving into town, get directions from the hotel. Not just written directions either. Ask them to email you a picture of one of their hotel maps with the route drawn on it. I am sure they will oblige. Before leaving my Florence hotel, I had them draw my exit route on the map and I even walked it the night before.

Another tip is to freshen up after a long drive right before entering the maddening city by stopping at one of the ubiquitous roadside Autogrills. these are roadside paradise with surprisingly good food. Order some pasta and a small glass of wine and use the time to plot your final assault on the City. On your way out, belly up to the coffee bar for a shot of espresso (strange to be standing next to truckers daintily sipping espresso out of tiny cups). After passing into the restricted zone, ignore the pleas for turns and legal u-turns and drive to your destination. The parking garage will clear your plates with the authorities (or else you'll get a massive fine in the mail).

And Bob's your uncle (or Guido in this case).

Trains Having a car on a trip does not mean having to use it for everything. Walking is the best form of inner-city transportation. Taxis and busses are also good alternates (cab fares in Italy are much lower than Munich). My favorite is the train and the Italian trains are great – http://www.italiarail.com. Tickets can be purchased in advance. We did a day trip to Rome from Florence and we had lots of time to take in the main sites. It was super easy traveling from center town to center town and 240 km/h between unburdened by luggage.

Service As luck would have it, I was able to have my 2,000 km break-in service completed at a dealership within a km of my hotel in Alba Adriatica by Automobili Di Patrizo S.p.A. It was freakish luck as was having a lot of trouble locating a BMW concessionari that might be near where I was projecting to be at 2,000 km. I was able to set up the appointment a few days in advance by email with a very friendly and accommodating service manager. I highly recommend them if you are in the neighborhood and your service is due. I was told however, that the rear differential oil change had to be skipped as the NA spec oil is not available in Europe.

Tidbits European hotels have a quirky power-saving device by linking power in the room to inserting the room card in a slot inside the room. If you are not used to it, you will pull out your hair out wondering why the bathroom light switch doesn't work. Cell coverage was also okay (3G only) and all I did was buy data packages at the same prices as what I pay when I visit the States.

Chapter Three - Driving Impressions

To put what follows into context I am coming from a 07 335xi. Initially I went the Dinan route up to Stage 3. After my warranty expired I put it high flow catted downpipes, RB Turbos and switched to Cobb. I also have KW v3 coil overs with Morr wheels and lots of other goodies. This is my first ///M. I consider myself a car enthusiast above all else and appreciate a variety of cars.

So why do I subscribe to these forums? What attracts me to the brand? Why do I read so many car magazines? What am I looking for in a car? Why do I love cars and performance cars as much as I do?

To me at least. This car is the answer to those questions – or at least the best answer yet.

Dismiss that if you will and chalk it up to just another giddy honeymooner with a new car. To me, the M4 is a beautiful expression of what defines BMW Motorsport for me – enthusiastically engineering to be the best driving tool for its budget, punching above its weight, using the latest technology, efficient, able to handle daily drudgery, and do so by being elegant without being ostentatious, and sporty without being punkish.

I have some quibbles and I mention them below. Keep in mind that none of them cross over the threshold into being truly annoying and are easily overcome by all that this car does right.

First impressions/delivery at the Welt The car looks absolutely stunning in person, beyond what any pictures can show. Added to that is the fact that it is YOUR car you are seeing for the first time. There is something to be said about having it served up to you on a giant turntable at the Welt. If that doesn't excite you then chances are you've probably died and no one has bothered to tell you. In that case I would recommend avoiding mirrors and crucifixes and suggest that you inquire into the availability of human brains at the premium lounge. For the rest of us with a pulse and penchant for cars, taking ED of an M3/4 at the Welt is a Haj that every adult car enthusiast owes him or herself to take.

Power delivery/throttle mapping The throttle mapping is closest to Cobb linear throttle maps. I prefer the stock throttle maps from Cobb because I enjoy lurching my AWD car around. The M4’s throttle is smooth and precise. The M4's power delivery and throttle mapping comes off almost too smoothly, more like an airplane taking off than what the N54 delivers. Numbers don't lie however and by this I mean the rapidly increasing velocity on the HUD as well as the various acceleration measures reported here and elsewhere. The acceleration that a tuned N54 delivers with a Steptronic is lumpy and interrupted. Consequently, it appears to deliver more of a kick in the pants and it gets to its endpoint in a more dramatic fashion.

With all that has been written about the adjustment required by former owners of the naturally-aspired V8, the greater adjustment is required of those of us previously driving turbos – in a good way. BMW has truly done a remarkable job here.

DCT With its machinegun shifts and uninterrupted acceleration, the DCT is a giant step up from the Steptronic. When it is not being driven Formula 1 style, the DCT is otherwise as smooth. There are some oddities about it that take some getting used to, however. The gear selector is electronic so moving it into reverse or drive is done without notching it anywhere. Once it is in gear, the car also does not strain against the brakes to let you know that it's ready to go. Rather, it sits there in neutral, like a standard with the clutch engaged, until the throttle is applied. The HUD is your friend here. Also there is no "sport" mode to shift to for a quick highway pass or to engage in spirited driving. If gunned in efficiency mode at highway speeds, the M4 will accelerate like a bus in 7th gear. Instead of shifting into sport when putting about in efficiency mode, a couple presses of one of the M buttons is needed, or a few downshifts.

Exhaust I love the exhaust and the various notes, snaps, crackles and pops in its repertoire. No modifications are planned by me. Although I was not a fan of active sound in theory, it is quite good in its application. I like it enough not to care about how laws, sausages or the wonderful sounds inside my M4 are made.

Steering I think there is slightly less road feel than my e90 with which I can practically drive over a quarter and tell you whether it’s heads or tails. In fairness, I would need to drive over more slippery surfaces with the M4 to fully judge its ability to communicate available grip. It was quite admirable in torrential rain in southern Germany if that counts. But who cares. There is more than enough road feel and, apart from that, it does something remarkable well for a steering system. It steers. Precisely, quickly and delightfully at that. It’s not just that with its steering and chassis set-up that the M4 can corner competently, it’s the way it invites corners. And then asks for more.

Adaptive suspension To be honest, I need to drive the car down more familiar roads to comment. I will say that various settings are rather subtly different. It is not as though they run from floaty 70’s Lincoln to bone-jarring Chuck Wagon modes. The same can be said of the steering settings. With both steering and suspension in Sport Plus, the M4 is less bumpy and the steering wheel is easier to crank than my 335 with coilovers and fat front tires. This is a good thing.

Carbon ceramic brakes A surprisingly favorite feature notwithstanding their being the Rodney Dangerfield of options. While the value of their slight performance edge and durability have been hotly contested (and in need of objective assessment), I can say that they definitely deliver on the bling. I think they set the M’s with them apart from their blue-braked brethren in the rest of BMW’s line-up. They are stunners. I also found them to be incredibly precise, effective, easy to modulate and, knock on wood, squeak-free. They also have a delightful feel to them. The best way to describe it is that they have the same degree of squishiness (or firmness) as regular brakes, but instead of a rubbery feel, they feel more like stepping on a grape. So in addition to causing a smile for their gorgeous appearance, they will do so again and again for their delightful feel - serving as a constant reminder of your extravagance. So if you are a fool for getting them, know at least that you will be a happy fool.

Comfort and all the rest I found the full leather package to be quite comfortable over long stretches of driving and resting my elbows on leather was a welcomed change. This is not your father’s 5 series by any stretch, but is the perfect mix of sporty firm and luxury for me. Six hours driving straight came off like a snap, with no complaints from my adult daughter or niece riding in the back. Our luggage all fit too, though we limited ourselves to carry-on sized luggage and packed a couple of duffle bags for purchases. There was more wind noise and more noise in general in the cabin than my e90, but the fuller sounding HK was up to the challenge. There is an exhaust drone in sport or sport plus that would wear on someone over time, but it disappears in efficiency. The HUD was the jewel of available options, especially by putting nav directions in display as well as allowing scrolling through music tracks on screen without averting eyes from the road. The lane departure was subtle and would only be of use to those who like to fiddle with things while driving. Pre-collision warning was actually a nifty feature as it operates off of closing speed rather than distance, providing useful information at times. Blind-spot detection is also a useful tool, but no substitute for attention. Lastly, the voice command system works much better in my e90, but I have not had much of a chance to put the new one through its paces. Reaching back for the seatbelt is a pain in the M4, but the door is as easy to use as any four door, without feeling as though you’re swinging half the car open. Global mileage on this trip was 10.6 l/100km, which I consider to be pretty damned good and better than my e90 in similar driving.

Conclusion The conclusion is that I miss my car and I can’t wait to be reunited so I can drive her over more familiar roads. Meanwhile, I shall continue to monitor her progress over the open seas and wonder if cars could dream, whether she would be dreaming of me on that boat right now, and our time together in Italy.

Chapter 4 - Pictures

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Last edited by M4TW; 07-24-2014 at 10:41 PM. Reason: Typos :-(
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      07-19-2014, 02:18 PM   #2
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Great post.
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      07-19-2014, 03:02 PM   #3
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Great post.
+1 !!
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      07-19-2014, 03:22 PM   #4
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Thanks for a good write up!
I'm heading to Italy myself in about 2 weeks from now. It's not my first time but it's nice with the reminders.

Question, did your American credit card work at all toll booths?

I'm dual citizen so I have both a European driver license and credit card but I would prefer to use my American card. Did all toll booths you passed take credit cards or was it coins only at some? I'll be visiting Bologna ( hotel inside the ZTL zone ) and the lakes btw.

I hear you about Florence the first time I visited by car, almost 20 years ago I didn't have navi just a standard paper map. It was quite nice to sit down with a Peroni after parking at my inner city hotel...
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      07-19-2014, 03:25 PM   #5
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+1 !!
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      07-19-2014, 03:33 PM   #6
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Nice write-up. We drove our 550i in Florence looking for a laundromat. Big mistake. Holy shit, I think I lost 10 years off of my life. One trip around the block and back to the Hotel and public transportation of us in the inner City.

Do they still have two menus in the restaurants? One for locals (lower prices, but in Italian) and one in English with higher prices.
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      07-19-2014, 04:36 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solstice View Post
Thanks for a good write up!
I'm heading to Italy myself in about 2 weeks from now. It's not my first time but it's nice with the reminders.

Question, did your American credit card work at all toll booths?

I'm dual citizen so I have both a European driver license and credit card but I would prefer to use my American card. Did all toll booths you passed take credit cards or was it coins only at some? I'll be visiting Bologna ( hotel inside the ZTL zone ) and the lakes btw.

I hear you about Florence the first time I visited by car, almost 20 years ago I didn't have navi just a standard paper map. It was quite nice to sit down with a Peroni after parking at my inner city hotel...
I was able to use my credit card on the booths that accepted them. I could have probably found the right booth to use it on all of them, but there wasn't a lot of time to dally around to find the right lane. Canadian cards are chip enabled and that works in Europe too.

Look into the Telepass though. That thing would have been the shit.

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Originally Posted by GBPackerfan1963 View Post
Nice write-up. We drove our 550i in Florence looking for a laundromat. Big mistake. Holy shit, I think I lost 10 years off of my life. One trip around the block and back to the Hotel and public transportation of us in the inner City.

Do they still have two menus in the restaurants? One for locals (lower prices, but in Italian) and one in English with higher prices.
I don't know probably because they would have me pegged for the guy who they stick with the higher priced menu. I will say that a lot of the waiters were quite surprised when tipped generously. Europeans are apparently cheap tippers. I kept to my habits, though, even if I did get the 'special' menu.
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      07-19-2014, 05:15 PM   #8
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Look into the Telepass though. That thing would have been the shit.
Hmmm...I'll be in Sweden a week before going to Munich. I think I'll try to order one from that website and have it shipped to my parents. Great tip and thanks for the website!
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      07-19-2014, 05:25 PM   #9
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Very nice!
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      07-19-2014, 08:21 PM   #10
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Great write up. I'm going to northern Italy on my ED next month. The wait is almost over Thanks for the tips.
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      07-20-2014, 10:46 AM   #11
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Hmmm...I'll be in Sweden a week before going to Munich. I think I'll try to order one from that website and have it shipped to my parents. Great tip and thanks for the website!
You'll be a rock star with the Telepass and an M3. The Autostrada near Bologna can get fairly congested a few of them intersect there. We got stuck in traffic for an hour near Bologna travelling from Florence to Venice on the weekend. This happened close to noon.

What did you order for your M3?

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Originally Posted by GoDucksYellO View Post
Great write up. I'm going to northern Italy on my ED next month. The wait is almost over Thanks for the tips.
No problem. I hope you have an incredible time!
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      07-20-2014, 11:00 AM   #12
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Amazing write up. I'm very excited for you!

One question though: you said the dealer who was doing your 2k service said the didn't have any NA rear diff fluid anywhere? I didn't even know there were different kinds --geologically speaking. I find that strange. Wonder if you knew you would be getting it done there if you could have called ahead to have it ready for you.

In any case, I'm glad everything seemed to go so smoothly for you and your family.
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      07-20-2014, 11:04 AM   #13
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Wow, just wow (epic slow golf clap).

You sir should be commended for post of the year.

Just wow.

congrats on the new wheels
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      07-20-2014, 11:27 AM   #14
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OP, Im one of those poor guys who skipped the highway pass in Austria. I was actually going from Switzerland to Munich and one tiny part of the route was in Austria(around 10 miles). I got stopped by the police and it turned out to be 160 euros. I didnt even know I was in Austria till the police told me.
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      07-20-2014, 11:30 AM   #15
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What an amazing write up. congrats on the car and thank you for all the tips
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      07-20-2014, 11:34 AM   #16
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Very nice dude
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      07-20-2014, 11:35 AM   #17
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Fantastic write up and required reading imho!

Edit: great toll site, btw, you can buy vignettes and multiple country toll passes, score!

Last edited by GrussGott; 07-20-2014 at 11:40 AM.
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      07-20-2014, 11:37 AM   #18
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Great post. Looks like a fun trip
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      07-20-2014, 11:49 AM   #19
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Oh, I see you rocking the Ceramics

BTW: great post
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      07-20-2014, 11:53 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zero4910 View Post
Amazing write up. I'm very excited for you!

One question though: you said the dealer who was doing your 2k service said the didn't have any NA rear diff fluid anywhere? I didn't even know there were different kinds --geologically speaking. I find that strange. Wonder if you knew you would be getting it done there if you could have called ahead to have it ready for you.

In any case, I'm glad everything seemed to go so smoothly for you and your family.
Thanks Zero. That's what the service advisor told me and he said they tried to source it but it wasn't available even in Germany. Of course I don't know whether it is true or not. He did say that the North American cars have different differential oil. Availability? Weather? BS?
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      07-20-2014, 12:13 PM   #21
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Great post.

Is it an illusion or do the US bound M4's ride 1-2cm higher?
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      07-20-2014, 12:13 PM   #22
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Awesome, love the CCBs!
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