An interview with Tom Purves

The following is a transcript of an interview with Tom Purves, Chairman and CEO of BMW U.S. Holding, covering timely subjects such as BMW's involvement with Formula One, the company's support of the BMW M3 GTR in the American Le Mans Series, as...

The following is a transcript of an interview with Tom Purves, Chairman and CEO of BMW U.S. Holding, covering timely subjects such as BMW's involvement with Formula One, the company's support of the BMW M3 GTR in the American Le Mans Series, as well as other subjects pertaining to the automotive business in the U.S.

Q You have quite a varied background in motor sports, including rallying, and been around it quite a while. How did you first get involved in that aspect of the business?

Purves I was very lucky. My father was in the car business and I was taken to motor racing (events) when I was tiny, I mean really small. I think at the age of 3 or 4 we went to race tracks and I saw people like Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart when they were amateurs and it's always been part of life. Later on I was very fortunate to be able to race carts and then after that I had my own Clubman's sports car. I very rapidly understood I was never going to be a professional racing driver.

Q So, you are not just a CEO who's kind of looking at what's going on. This has been a big part of your life.

Purves Yes. But I think anybody who's engaged in the car business -- with an aspirational brand that has sporting involvement -- has probably got considerable interest in motor sport. It may be a function of whether they participated in their youth, but I think the brand of BMW is such an all-encompassing thing, and motor sport is so much a part of it that if you're not engaged in it, if you're not interested, then you're really not doing your job in leading the brand in the right direction.

Q Unless you've participated at some level you don't quite have the understanding of what it takes and what all goes into racing?

Purves Yes, I think that's true. We talk about motor sport. I would prefer to use the description "motoring competition" because it's really a form of sport that involves so much technology and so much team development that it's more than just one man against another. And I guess that's the thing that makes Formula One so complex.

Q You attended the Sebring 12-hour race last year, the Monterey Historics and the Indy Formula One race -- three good ones. Did you attend events this year?

Purves I should also tell you I attended the Daytona 500 (last year), because I thought I ought to at least see one NASCAR race while I was in the United States. I must say that it was a lot of fun. It was great racing. And this year I also got to Daytona. I intend to be at Indianapolis. I missed out on Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Q At these races like the Monterey Historics what do you find the most attractive, the most fun?

Purves I think, just actually, looking at the old cars. It's always fun to meet people and at Monterey you meet people from all over the world who are interested in old cars and if you've been in the industry all your life, then you know people from all over the place. It's great to see them in an environment like Monterey which is a very social environment.

But for me the most interesting thing is looking at the cars and remembering seeing some of them actually racing. You know, you go down that line of Formula One cars from the ^Ì70s and the ^Ì80s and many of them are beautifully prepared today, probably better prepared than they ever were at the time they were raced. It's like one's yesterdays. (You say) I remember being at Silverstone that year, or you remember a girlfriend in relation to a particular car -- something like that.


Q In a lot of companies racing is just something that they do as a small part of their marketing effort to show they're sporty. That isn't really the case with BMW. It's been a part of the company's philosophy ever since I can remember. Tell me about that.

Purves I think there are two great issues here.  There's what I referred to a
little earlier when I said it's motoring competition.  BMW is a very
competitive organization.  We are as a brand in direct competition with
other aspirational brands.  So we like competition and enjoy competition.

There's a natural transfer from enjoying competition to the competition that your company is directly engaged in on the race track. This is one of the great symbolisms of our business. The second element of it is BMW builds the ultimate driving machine, and, really, only by racing and testing on tracks and having a crossover from the engineering knowledge you get from that into your production cars are you going to build truthfully the ultimate driving machine -- a car of competence and integrity that is thrilling to drive and exciting and has the right sort of responsiveness through the steering and the pedals. And that's what BMW's all about. We're competitive and we build great cars and we can only build great driver's cars if we're involved in motor sport.

Q Let's talk a little bit about the M3 effort. You have a really serious effort with the new V8 and the M3GTR. You made a very large commitment. Actually, there are two teams running. What are your goals with this program?

Purves Well, we want to win! That's a clear goal. That's the goal for all motor sport. But it's also to stay very much in touch with a terribly important customer group. Our BMW Car Club of America owners represent something like 10 percent of the total owners of M cars in this country.

M cars benefit from direct involvement in motor sport and this linkage between GT racing and production car racing is clearer for all to see than the linkage between Formula One and production car racing. And, of course, Formula One only comes to the States once a year to Indianapolis and, as yet -- although Speedvision are doing a terrific job covering (the overseas races), it's not very openly available to everybody in the States (Note: ABC will be covering the 2001 race). So, being involved in GT racing for us is a very logical thing to do. We are committed to it in a substantial way with two teams, primarily because we also run cars in Europe in the European Le Mans Series and the Schnitzer German-based team are involved in that and the PTG team's responsibility is the American series. But when we're in an early stage of development of a new car and a new engine, as we are at the moment, then having both teams competing together just speeds up the development process.

Q What's the relationship between these two teams? Are they competitors?

Purves All racing teams are competitors and if anybody tells you they're not, then they're avoiding a direct answer. But our ideal result is a 1-2-3-4 for BMW, and whichever team wins is not really the issue as long as it's a BMW that wins. Having said that, there are advantages in having two teams running together, especially if they're running on different tires, for example. That can be very helpful to you. And, in the particular situation that we find ourselves in, also having a German-based team at an early stage of the development of the car, which has been developed by BMW Motorsport in Germany, has been hugely helpful.

Q The M3 is certainly as close as you're going to get to driving a race car in a two-door sedan. That's one of the things that all the drivers who drive for the PTG team in this country all say. There really isn't that much difference other than wider tires and more power between a road M3 and a racing one.

Purves That's true, and there's a lot of technology in a road-going M3 that comes straight from the race tracks. The teams that we have today here in the States, PTG and Schnitzer, have been racing M cars, GT cars, for years and years and years, touring cars before that; and all that feedback goes into the development of new cars. So, yes there is a big linkage between the two. But, you know, there's also an emotional connection. People in this country enjoy being involved in what they do.

We know from our market research (that) BMW customers are very active people. They don't necessarily all go to race tracks. I mean, they actually go fishing. They may play golf or tennis, but they're active people. They want to do things. So the M car owners for their part are really active people. And I know if you go to Pebble Beach, for example, and you see the BMW Car Club Corral there it's bigger than the Porsche Club Corral. The fact that more BMW owners are interested in going to Pebble Beach -- and should I say Monterey really as they're going to go to Laguna Seca for the races -- than Porsche owners are identifies what sort of linkage there is between the track and the road cars that they drive.

Q Porsche has always been basically a sports car company. BMW, even though it does make some beautiful sports cars, has been a company that gives you cars with that same sort of performance but have a back seat as well. Let's just talk a little bit about the differences in the companies.

Purves Well, that's true, although it's fair to say that the original BMW sports car, the 328, was the greatest sports car of its era before the second World War and many great racing drivers started their careers in them and talk about them positively today. I guess the modern incarnation of BMW was the 1602, the 2002, which were really sports sedans and that's what we know today. The 3 Series remains the greatest sports sedan in the world and our 5 Series and 7 Series cars are very sporting cars to drive. We would simply say that we go for perfect balance in our cars. We go for as much as an even weight distribution as we can find -- 50-50 weight distribution, engine in the front, drive in the back. That way the wheels in the front are free to steer. The wheels in the back are free to drive. That for us gives you the best balance and the best responsiveness. Porsche, for their part, have this interesting concept of the engine in the back which has its own challenges with it. And they've developed it brilliantly into a very responsive car. But I think the important thing is that they are icons in their own way. They are branded in the metal. A Porsche is a Porsche is a Porsche with its unusual structure design. A BMW similarly.

And you can see this also reflected, for example, in our motorcycle business where we stay with the Boxer engine, the flat twin Boxer engine which gives a very special character and nature to our motorcycles, lots of torque -- typically a BMW motorcycle. In the same way that other people like Harley have their unique, iconic engine structures, Ducatti with the Desmodromic valve gear and so on. So really when you talk about the great brands, they are branded in the metal and that's where BMW and Porsche share something. They are branded in the design, in the actual concept of delivery of exciting driving to their consumers.

Q There has been some controversy about putting a V8 in the M3 since there isn't currently a production one, although most of the complaints seem to be coming from the teams that BMW is racing against. Are you comfortable with that? It's within the rules, but if somebody came in and said I want a V8 M3, could you deliver one right now?

Purves I'm delighted that we have the V8. It does completely comply with the rules, which is what I understand we have to do. And that's really all that's important. And I think Porsche in their way could remember the Dauer Porsche at Le Mans and ask the same question and that car completely complied with the rules.

Q So it's the letter of the rules?

Purves Well, you have to make a differentiation between winning and spirit. And this issue of what is the spirit of the rules and what are the rules, I mean you have to be pure about it. The rules are the rules; and our car complies with the rules. Simple as that. We want to win.

Q Are you building X number of these cars to comply with the rules?

Purves I can't tell you the actual wording of the rules and I wouldn't normally be able to do that anyway. What I do know is that this car complies completely with the rules. We build V8 engines, of course M V8 engines -- and we have a V8 M3 and this car is built to comply with the rules and regulations. So, I actually find the whole issue really slightly amusing because at the end of the day when you get in a boxing ring, you abide by the rules. We're abiding by the rules. Derek Bell was asked the question on the Speedvision program, the great Porsche driver. They were commentating at Sebring this year and he said the Porsche people don't much like this and he said they should remember the car I drove at Le Mans ten years ago. Everybody is competitive in this business and all we do is build cars to comply with the rules. We want to win. Simple as that.

Q You mentioned having going to the Daytona 500. Certainly in terms of making it a show, NASCAR and Winston Cup have really figured that out. Are there some things that NASCAR does that sports car racing might look at to improve its popularity?

Purves Yes. I think what NASCAR has done is to create a tremendous spectacle great excitement, a family event. Everybody loves going there. The facilities work. The noise is exciting. You can't help but be impressed by three cars abreast at 180 miles an hour. The reason I went to Daytona, I was told by a Formula One team owner, 'Tom, if you're going to the States you've got to go to Talladega and watch the NASCAR races. It's one of the greatest sights and noises in the whole of motor sport.'

Actually, I haven't gotten to Talladaga yet but I did make it to Daytona. I think sports cars and indeed Formula One can learn a lot from the way the whole NASCAR event is marketed. I think Indianapolis at the U.S. Grand Prix last year was actually a good step in the right direction both for Formula One and for Indianapolis. The connection of this ultimate form of motor sport in the ultimate cathedral of motor sport here in North America is bound for greater success in future.


Q A lot of people look at Formula One cars and they see these little rocketships and they say, these don't bear any relationship to a car in the road. But when we go back to the last time BMW was involved in Formula One and won the world championship, a good deal is due in part to the advanced engine management system. Lo and behold, the cars that BMW sells today probably have an engine management system far superior to what Nelson Piquet had that day.

Purves Yes, and when Nelson Piquet won the world championship with the Brabham BMW in those days he did so using a turbocharged engine which used a stock-block 4 cylinder BMW crank case as its root as its base. And those engines were developed on dynamometers that couldn't cope with the power. He had more horsepower than the dynamometer could calculate or could track for qualifying, something like 1,200 horsepower at times.

So, yes they were unbelievable engines in their day and, of course, the engines we have today are equally extraordinary in their performance, although they don't use a production engine block. But it's the technology transfer you get from the cars and it's not just actually from the engines themselves the engine management systems, the materials, the lubrication and so on it's things like the brake systems, the suspension systems. If you think of the development of brake rotors, it's quite common to see brake rotors on cars today with vents drilled and so on. The whole concept of disc brakes first appeared on race cars in the early '50s, and now they're standard equipment. Everybody had drums up until then. If you drive a really old car, drive a BMW pre-war 328, it's got wonderful steering, got brilliant engine response, a very nice gear box. It's one of the old -time great cars to drive. Put your foot on the brakes and you realize you've gone back seventy years in time and, today, with carbon-fiber brakes and the materials they're using in Formula One cars, it's just a matter of time before some of those developments come on to production cars. In fact, some of our M cars have floating rotors which are directly related to race car brakes.

Q If you look at NASCAR Winston Cup, people on the surface think that maybe those cars are a lot closer to the production cars they would buy than Formula One. But in reality they have carburetors, which we haven't seen in a road car in twenty-five years, and BMW has an engine management system. Obviously, on the Formula One car that is earmarked for down the pipeline, I imagine, for production cars. Is that true?

Purves That's true. Let's be fair to the NASCAR people. Those cars are built to a very specific design formula. Within the parameters of what they do they get as much technology as they can into them. I'm really quite impressed with some of the things they do to achieve that nth degree of performance. Getting over 800 horsepower out of a naturally-aspirated stock-block V-8 push-rod engine is remarkable by anybody's standards so we shouldn't pooh-pooh that, but clearly the rules are designed to some extent to keep the cost down and it is a lot less expensive to go NASCAR racing than it is to go Formula One racing. And they develop their technology the best way they can and there is actually some feed-over.

Some of the Formula One teams and the NASCAR teams talk to each other and have exchanges of ideas about aerodynamics and so on. But from a real sophisticated technological development you can't beat Formula One.

First of all, you can't beat it because the regulations allow you to do more than they do in most of the controlled formulas like NASCAR. And, secondly, because the manufacturers who are building the great aspirational brands are all directly involved. You have BMW. You have Ferrari. You have Mercedes Benz. These people have been engaged in motor sport over very many years and have a deep understanding for the technology that's required. (They) put whole teams of people into their competition development. And I think it's interesting that BMW does a particularly good job at getting feedback from those exploits, if you like, on the track into the production cars. We do it in the management structure and the organizational structure of the company. The M organization -- who are involved in building the motor sport engines for the Formula One cars and for the GT cars, the V8 M3s for example -- those fellows sit down and have lunch with the guys who are actually designing and developing the road car engines. In fact, in three years' time they are probably not doing the race cars, they're doing the road car engine development. They're the same people. They circulate inside the company. There are, to my knowledge, relatively few companies that actually do that. Many subcontract their work to a small organization.

We try to keep our work in-house deliberately to get that cross-over effect.

Q I imagine it also helps in attracting the top people, top engineers.

Purves Yes. I think it does. But I think BMW is also one of those organizations that have people who are very proud to work for BMW. If they're working in the race engine department I suppose that's really terrific, but actually they're very proud to be developing the latest Valvetronic engine, valve management system, for example, for the production V8s or V12s. If you meet those fellows, between them it's not a question of it's more glamorous to be in racing or anything, they are two different technological challenges and they're interested in comparing notes to see if there's ways in which they can benefit from both experiences. But if you look at the new Valvetronic technology that we have in the 4-cylinder engines in Europe and that are coming to the States in the larger engines, this is a means by which we've been able to do away with the butterfly in the throttle unit. We literally control the inlet gas by the valve timing and the engine management system alone.

So we've gotten rid of the friction of a butterfly and that's a brilliant advance. It's allowed us to improve our fuel efficiency by 10 percent in our 4-cylinder engines and it will allow us to improve our fuel efficiency and our power on our V8 engines by considerably more. So these are great steps forward and, of course, there's a huge interrelation between the motor sport activity and the production car activity on induction systems. The M cars we build (that) you can buy today on the road have effectively an adjustable inlet manifold system which comes straight out of race car development. In fact, in the very latest M car they used the Formula One engine management control system to set up the best ratios for adjusting the induction manifolds.

Q So is this cross-over? Do you suppose this is why BMW surprised everyone? Everyone said it took years to be competitive in Formula One and it didn't take BMW very long.

Purves We've been very quick in becoming competitive. We've been ahead of the game, I think -- certainly ahead of our own plans. More power to the people who've done that. It's a great organization and it's a great, great success for (Dr.) Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Technical Director) and all the people in Munich who've done that. We're very proud of the result.

Q BMW hadn't been in Formula One in seventeen years, but it wasn't like these guys were sleeping on the couches over there.

Purves No. Don't forget, we've never been out of motor sport. We were building touring cars. The European touring car formula with 2-liter, 4-cylinder engines is a very highly-competitive formula. You need to stay very much in touch with combustion chamber development and materials development and all those kind of things; and we here in the States have been very successful in beating Porsche regularly in GT racing with our M3s. You don't do that without being very much in touch with what's required inside a race car engine. So, the Formula One engine in a sense is a great step forward from that. But at the end of the day, the valves, exhaust valves and combustion chambers are the same.


Q Your main rival in the ALMS series is also a German car company. But the two companies have fairly different philosophies, not only where they put the motors, but the type of cars they build. How do you compare BMW with Porsche?

Purves We have great admiration for what Porsche do. They're a great company.

They've had great racing results over the years. They're a dedicated sports car company. They're not involved in Formula One. When they have been involved in Formula One it's only been for very short periods in a very limited way. But they won Le Mans, I think, more times than any other sports car brand. So they have a proud heritage. They have a different philosophy -- they put their engines in different places. It actually makes the whole thing really much more interesting. Great brands in a way are truly represented by the products that they offer and the products that they offer reflect those brands. And the great brands do things in original ways and I think the 911 Porsche is one of the icons of the sports car world. It has a rather unusual way of putting the engine at the back. Originally when it was air-cooled it was even more extraordinary.

Q The M3 has been a very successful car here in North America. The M Brand started with one model. Now I guess there are five. The M Brand has been BMW's racing brand. Is there a correlation between its racing success and the success of the M Brand?

Purves Oh, definitely. Ten percent of our M car customers are members of the Car Club and are enthusiasts who go to the race tracks and watch the results of our racing. I think it's absolutely clear that the linkage between the cars we race on the track and the road cars drives the degree of success, not only in terms of actually physically seeing the cars win, but actually driving the development of the cars for the future. So, it's logical for us to have five M cars in a way because we build this great two-seater sports car, the Z car. We build a great coupe. The M5 is just such a magnificent product. The M5, from my perspective, represents the high point of the whole M car philosophy, partly because it has this stunning performance and partly because it's so understated from the outside.

Q I understand the BMW Car Club events get 300 to 350 BMW owners out there. And it seems like a lot of these people would rather go out and do a little driving themselves than just spectate.

Purves Yes, they do. Indeed, I was sitting in my dentist's chair the other day and he was drilling away and he said to me, 'I'm looking forward to this weekend, Mr. Purves. I'm going out to Lime Rock to drive my M3.'

And he's a Car Club member. I didn't actually know that. He has a 540 which he drives to his practice every day and he has an M3 which he tows to the BMW Car Club events when they hold them at Lime Rock or before when the old track on Long Island was still open (Bridgehampton).

Q This seems to be a real growth part of motor sport.

Purves Well, I think it's normal. I think people see the open road as being more congested. They have great respect for safety and they realize that the open road is not the place to use ultimate performance and they choose to go to a track and enjoy themselves. You see this also with the motorcycle business. More people go to track days and enjoy themselves in a controlled environment.

Q There was a time when you wouldn't dare take a road car to a race track and burn the brakes out in three laps or so.

Purves Well, that's true. I remember, when I was involved in the British BMW business, we used to support Jackie Stewart's Grand Prix Mechanics Charity Trust. And each year they had an event at Silverstone where you could buy hot laps sitting in a road car being driven by a Formula One driver. And it was always the BMWs that the Formula One drivers wanted to drive not just because they enjoy driving them so much, but because the brakes didn't burn out after three laps.

Q So the M3 is just as happy on the race track as it is on the road.

Purves Yes.

Q With all these M cars is there a plan to build more M cars?

Purves Yes, M remains a really important part of our future philosophy. You will always have M coupes. You will have M sedans. The M roadster in its own way has been very successful and we look forward to maintaining the M business more or less in the structure as you know it today going forward.

Q There's an adage in racing that speed costs money. The question is how fast do you want to go? More speed has a price. How fast does BMW of North America want to go?

Purves Oh, very fast. We're also cost conscious, which, as you quite rightly point out, is a control factor in motor sport. But the important thing is to do things properly. If you're involved in the BMW business, whether you are running a dealership, whether you are involved in the sales organization or whether you are involved in the manufacturing process or the R&D process, you are taught that you do things the right way. And that is a quality way and that does cost money, and motor sport is expensive. But it's an inherent part of our marketing mix. It's the fundamental way we do things. That's why we're so happy to be involved in it.

Q Several of your competitors have come out with what are obviously BMW-type cars, sport sedans that have gotten good reviews although no one has said they're BMWs. There is a certain magic whether it's there in engineering or just there in terms of magic -- the advantage BMW has over your newer competitors, let's say.

Purves I would say we're one of the brands that's as near to pure as you can get and pure whether it's in a drink for example -- a malt whiskey -- or whether it's pure in terms of a motorcycle or pure in terms of a car, people are looking for a degree of purity. And when you say BMW you know it's the ultimate driving machine. They are all built to be fun to drive. They're all built to connect with the customer. They're all built to give some inherent driving responses that good drivers enjoy and like. And you know there's not so much compromise around a BMW. This is one of the reasons that we have such loyal customers, and one of the reasons that people continue to understand what BMW is all about. Some of the brands that will build a car to compete with our cars are excellent car manufacturers and they build an excellent product. But their cars are ubiquitous; they could be anything to anyone. If I say BMW, it represents something to you -- whether I'm driving a 7 Series or a 3 Series. If I'm driving an XYZ car, it could mean anything to anyone and I think this is the issue. We are very much a pure car company.

Don't forget that our (BMW of N.A.) total volume of sales is, at a low rate, 150,000 units. That's not a lot. And from that point of view we can afford to steer away from compromises that make us ordinary.

Q What would happen if you went over to Munich and said, Look, I've got a great idea to sell more cars in North America -- softer suspensions, bigger cup holders, softer seats; everything they hate. What would they do to you?

Purves Actually, that's a very interesting point that you raise. First of all, they would smile. And, secondly, they would actually ask upon what basis should we be changing our brand values to suit the U.S. market?

And, of course, the truth of the matter is that we have done very little to change our brand values to suit the US market. What we do do is we, if you like, tune things to suit market conditions. So, for example, the automatic gear box programming for Germany, Japan and the U.S. are different because there are different traffic conditions, there are different speed limits in those countries. And, you can actually adjust the automatic transmission programming to get better fuel efficiency or better smooth changes under certain circumstances. That's the sort of thing we do adapt and change to a market. But we don't adapt and change things like the leather upholstery or the way the steering wheel is designed. These are fundamental BMW things. In fact, in this country we've seen a great resurgence in classical values. We see more stick-shift cars now than we did five years ago.

Q It's kind of funny when Formula One is going to fully automatic transmissions next year.

Purves Yes, and Indy cars are not. We will be able to offer a sequential manual gear box in the future on M cars. It's going to be interesting to see what the American enthusiast really wants to support. I'm responsible for Latin America. If I ask our Brazilian and Argentinean sales companies, Do you want a manual gear box in the future M cars or do you want a sequential manual gear box? They say they want an SMG box like the Formula One cars. If I ask our American group, they say they want a shifting box. Interesting. That's your orientation. The Latin American orientation and even the Canadian orientation is a European orientation. The American is an American orientation, accepting and enjoying the European brand values. So we do have to be careful with issues like that.

Q The drivers that you have for the U.S. ALMS team have some interesting backgrounds. One is Hans Stuck, who raced for Porsche -- actually he started racing BMWs first -- who's a national hero in Germany and quite a character. Tell me about him.

Purves Well he's a great character, as you said. Of course, his father was an extremely famous racing driver and Hans has done a great job over the years driving all the cars he's driven. But my abiding memory of Mr. Stuck was driving Batmobiles for BMW. Flying ten feet high at the Nurburgring. So, for me, he's always been a BMW driver.

Q He told me his first race was in a BMW and a fuel hose kept coming off at the Nurburgring. He had to stop like seven times to fix it and he still finished third.

Purves But I saw him race in Le Mans in a Porsche in 1988 when he had a ding-dong battle with the Jaguar the Walkenshaw Jaguar cars. And it was unbelievable, his driving in the wet. I shall always remember that.

The way he could lap in the wet almost as quickly as some of the cars were in the dry. He's an outstanding driver. We're very proud to have him.

Q And how about Bill Auberlen, who's driven both for BMW Motorsport and BMW Team PTG?

Purves He's a great driver -- very, very quick in everything. In fact, he was driving last year at Monterey in a 2002, I believe it was, might even have been a turbo 2002. He was extremely fast in that and made a lot of the historic drivers blanch when he went past them. He's also from our perspective an important man because being a Californian resident he's very close to a hugely important part of our business. I mean California, with, 40,000 cars a year sold there, sells the same number of cars that we sell in the whole of France. So, it's a very important market for us. And having one of our drivers coming from California and being connected in that world is helpful to us too. And, of course, we've also got Boris Said, haven't we? He's another great California colorful driver. So, yes, good team.

Q Boris' father was a racer.

Purves Yes, like Hans Stuck's father.

Q There certainly is nothing like the first lap at Daytona is there?

Purves No. Very special.

Q BMW has quite a legacy -- and it's growing every year -- of wonderful cars, the 320 turbo that David Hobbs raced, and the 3.0s. What is the BMW car collection?

Purves Well, it's a small collection. To put it simply, it's important cars that we've been involved in racing -- either M3s or a V12 Le Mans car, the car that actually won Sebring. And we have an F1 McLaren BMW that ran at Le Mans some years back. And we use these cars for events and promotions and it's always fun to see them. Enthusiasts love them.

People who are not enthusiasts are interested in them because, of course, old race cars with all their wings and bits and pieces on them are so much more dramatic than an old road car. It also keeps us in touch with our history so that when people join the company, they can actually see these things and it makes the history live in an appropriate way. What we don't really have are huge museums. We have collections of vehicles that we try to keep moving from place to place because we also think the cars that we own and the motorcycles that we own should be used.

TOM PURVES -- biography

Tom Purves was appointed Chairman and CEO of BMW U.S. Holding Corp., effective May 1, 1999. His responsibilities encompass all sales, marketing and distribution activities for the BMW Group in North, Central and South America.

Most recently, Mr. Purves was a Rover board member, a role he assumed in June of 1996. In this capacity, Mr. Purves oversaw the global sales and marketing for the Land Rover, Mini, MG and Rover brands. Mr. Purves joined the BMW Group in 1985 as Sales Director of BMW (GB) Ltd. in Great Britain, where he assumed responsibility for all aspects of sales, distribution, parts, service, dealer and manpower development. During his tenure as president of BMW (GB) Ltd., the company soared to the second largest BMW export market after the USA, and in June of 1990, he was appointed Managing Director of BMW Great Britain Ltd.

Mr. Purves began his automotive career with Rolls Royce Ltd. Car Division, as an apprentice engineer. His role with the company evolved to include several management positions in various fields including sales in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

Mr. Purves was educated at Daniel Stewart9s College in Edinburgh, Scotland.


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About this article
Series ALMS , Formula 1 , PWC
Drivers Boris Said , Bill Auberlen , Jackie Stewart , Jim Clark , Nelson Piquet , David Hobbs , Derek Bell , Mario Theissen , Daniel Stewart