MUNICH -- It's a cloudy October day here in Bavaria, but I am beaming as I cruise toward my hotel, top down with Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" blaring from the speakers.
"That was cool," I say to myself. "That was really cool."
I had just been handed the keys to my new BMW 2-series convertible -- a car I had been dreaming about since seeing it on a frigid January day at this year's Detroit auto show -- and was ready to hit the autobahn.
Never would I have thought I would travel from Detroit to Europe to get a new car. And had I not stumbled across BMW's European Delivery program thanks to word-of-mouth on Internet social networks, I would have missed out on one of the best retail experiences the industry has to offer.
My journey, from discovery to delivery, spans 10 months and 10 time zones.
European delivery is far from a new concept. It's been around since the 1950s, when American troops wanted to import sporty European cars back to the U.S., according to Jonathan Spira of the Frequent Business Traveler website. Besides BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volvo and Porsche offer European delivery to North American customers.
The idea is simple: A customer picks a dealership, places an order, fills out paperwork and travels to the automaker's delivery center in Europe.
In BMW's program, once the customer is ready to return home, the vehicle is dropped off at one of 12 points throughout the continent for shipping to North America. (Customers who want to ship from Italy must pay an additional fee.)