Initial Ramblings – Fall 2016: Emerging from its Slumber


By JT Burkard

This has been an interesting year for me. I went into business for myself. It was a huge leap of faith but I know it was the right move. After 15 years of employment as the Director of Operations at a specialty car dealership, the owner retired and I found myself no longer there. I could have easily gone to another high-end dealership with my experience. I thought about applying to several of the nearby BMW dealerships. I also considered going to Porsche, Mercedes and Audi. Ultimately I decided this was a push to get me to do something that I have talked about for years. I took a chance and jumped in feet first and started my own vehicle marketing firm. I have to say it’s been the best decision I made in a long time. The hours are better, the casual attire policy fits me perfectly, the commute couldn’t be better, there is a self-serve restaurant within walking distance from the home office and I get to do I what I do best without anyone trying to micro manage me. Plus, I get along with the boss well! The only problem I have is with the 4 feline intern employees that need constant attention while I am working at my desk. Did you ever try to list an ad on the internet while getting pawed on the arm? It’s not conducive for productivity.

I have to say working for myself has its benefits but it also has its downfalls. The biggest one is that I wound up burying my E21 in the garage under stuff. At the beginning stages of this venture I utilized my single car garage and driveway as a detail center and repair workshop for some of the cars that I picked up to resell. The trunk of the 320i was inadvertently used as a workbench to put detailing microfiber cloths on, extra car covers were on the roof, tools, parts boxes, and other things that found their way there. I do have two covers on the car, one thicker indoor outdoor cover, then another one made of parachute type material to protect it but that was just for when I was walking past it, not to protect from bench duty. I had a towel down on the trunk as an extra buffer but still that was no excuse. The garage got completely unruly to the point where I haven’t used the car all year. Heck, I haven’t even seen the car all year!

With the Show and Shine at the Deutscher Club coming up on September 22, it was going to be the reason I had to straighten up the garage, dig the BMW out and start using it. So on the 21st I started, anywhere and everywhere. I cleared off the boxes and small items that were on the hood area, I removed everything else that was on the trunk and stored under the back of the car as well, and within a couple hours, the car was free. The following morning I had scheduled the day specifically for getting the E21 ready. Well, I wound up going to the dealer auction instead but I was able to get home in time to spend an hour or so to wash and clean up the car quickly. I was hoping to give it a nice detail, two stage compound, & wax but with my limited time I just had to wash it and spot detail. The rear quarter seemed dull. Perhaps from me sliding between the car and the shelf that’s on that side of the garage, the friction from the cover caused some minor dulling. I buffed out that quarter quickly and it removed most of the blemish. I dressed the rubber and the tires and I was ready.

The moment I got behind the wheel, everything was right. Man, I love driving this car. I felt ashamed that it sat in the garage for 10 months unused. I cruised up the Parkway with a big smile on my face and 45 minutes later, I was at the Deutscher Club. I pulled in and parked next to a beautiful 2002. It was my first drive of the year in the car and nothing more appropriate than to the German club for our BMW event.

Now that the car was out of the garage I had to focus on the next event coming up, the Circle BMW Show and Shine on October 8th. The Friday before I was able to spend the day and go over the car well, I buffed and waxed it. I vacuumed the interior, which really didn’t need much, cleaned the windows, etc. Wow, it was looking terrific! Honestly, I must have stepped back and stared at the car countless times saying “I can’t believe how nice this looks”. The weather was calling for possible rain during the afternoon of the show but I didn’t care. I was using the car for why I owned it, to enjoy it. What a great showing it was too. Lots of BMWs of all makes and models and even a Ferrari and a Porsche showed up. Since I live in northern Ocean County this was a very convenient event for me being only 20 minutes away. Plus, Circle is a great dealership and a wonderful supporter of our club. I hope they do more events like this in the future.

With that show out of the way, I was shooting for the final event I wanted to attend, the Cars and Coffee of NJ gathering in Millstone, NJ on October 16th. I really enjoy these because it’s not a traditional car show where people get trophy’s or stale music being pumped out by a DJ and people sitting behind their cars in folding chairs. Everyone is walking around to check out roughly 600 cars of every type including Hot Rods, Exotics, European, Muscle Cars, and Japanese, whatever you can imagine. It’s all there. The month before, I was parked between a VW bug and a Lamborghini; this time it was a late 80’s Mustang and a Corvette. It was nice to see several BMW club members wandering around as well.

When I left, I stopped at my sister’s house for a surprise visit. My oldest nephew who is 15 was excited I had one of my “cool cars”. I never realized but he never got to go for a ride in the E21. Well, this needed to be addressed and I said “let’s go for a ride”. He was never in a car that had manual windows or a crank sunroof, so right off the bat he was intrigued. It was a fantastic Uncle / Nephew bonding experience. We went down the roads that he knew and wound up on roads neither of us knew. It didn’t matter; eventually we would find our way back. I can tell by the smile on his face he was hooked. It was really the icing on the cake to my E21 adventure of the year. Honestly, that moment was better than any of the shows and events I attended. To me, this is the essence of owning a classic car, to bring history and the experience to a new generation.

The only thing left to do is the Whack your Turkey Rally and then it goes back into the garage, now cleaned and organized, for the winter. I’m not sure the Feline interns wouldn’t be of much help in that though.

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