When I was 8 years old, my father took possession of a 1930 BMW 3/15 DA-2 as a partial commission in a business deal. The tiny car was just about as tall as I was at that age. Its 750-cc flathead-four motor had only three speeds and puttered along with a riveting 15 horsepower—hence, the 3/15 in its name. My father thought it would be a bonding experience to give the car to his children. With a lot of help from my dad, my brother and I restored the car, which subsequently sparked my automotive passion.
BMW began as an airplane engine manufacturer in 1916, but shifted their focus to automobiles in 1929. Many of those early BMWs were expropriated by the Germans in the lead up to WWII. As a result, most of the more historic cars did not survive the war. This 1930 BMW is the oldest BMW in the United States. The top speed on the 3/15 is an exhilarating 35 mph if you’re going downhill with a tailwind. Keeping the car in its lane is a continuous battle, because of the primitive 1930s steering and suspension. Every bump and crack in the road bounces the car from side to side. As long as you keep your wits about you, you sort of dribble down the road. Compared to a modern supercar, it is a thrilling experience that keeps the driver much more engaged.
At the impressionable age of 11, the 3/15 and I were accepted into the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2003—a very prestigious debut for my treasured car. With me behind the wheel, this little BMW crossed the podium to take third in class. I was the youngest person to ever drive onto the Pebble Beach Concours podium. Thinking about the awe I felt in that moment to this day gives me goose bumps.
My 3/15 has gone on to win many more honors and awards since then. It has been on the lawn at Pebble Beach twice, once in 2003 and again in 2016. It has taken home trophies at Amelia Island, Legends of the Autobahn, as well as dozens of other local events. It was also entered in this year’s inaugural Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance in October and is scheduled to be shipped to the BMW Museum in South Carolina next year as part of their upcoming display. I couldn’t be more proud of my little car.
Because of the 3/15 and my early passion for cars, I joined my dad in the family business at Ferraris Online, where we broker everything from rare historic racing cars to specialty exotic supercars. I often find myself behind the wheel of cars that blast past 100 mph effortlessly. Driving my 1930 BMW is a welcoming change of pace from my everyday life.
On the weekend, my favorite thing to do is drive my BMW to brunch. I love to sit outside and watch people’s reactions to the car in the parking lot. It sparks joy and curiosity from the old and young alike. It carries a history that inspires a sense of awe and wonder in everyone it meets. I might be biased, but this little 3/15 is a head turner everywhere it goes.