Most college professors merely talk schoolwork and due dates with students. But professor Jim Baumann, communication professor at St. Ambrose University, can talk your ear off about something much cooler – “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
Baumann’s passion for BMW’s performance and style began while he was growing up in Dubuque, Iowa.
“My father is a BMW technician so I was constantly around them as a kid,” Baumann said. “BMW is about performance. It’s not just a car, it’s a sports sedan.”
Bavarian Motor Works, more commonly known as BMW, is a German company that manufactures automobiles, motorcycles and engines. The company is widely recognized by the blue and white circular symbol.
Baumann was only a senior at University of Dubuque when he bought his first BMW. At the time he had been working 35 hours a week at John Deere. He attended classes in the morning and worked 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. After working this busy schedule for several months, he felt it was time to reward himself.
“It was a bright, sunny day when I was driving home from work and I passed the car dealership,” Baumann recollects. “I pulled in and bought it – a red 1998 BMW 318ti.”
As it is for many Americans, Baumann’s car was a status symbol on his college campus.
“I felt so cool rolling through campus in my brand new BMW,” Baumann said.
Baumann most recently purchased a 2007 BMW 328xi as his daily driver car. He bought the car from his older sister, but there was one condition she made him abide to before selling him the car.
“My sister had named the car ‘Libby,’ so she made me promise to keep the name when I bought it from her,” Baumann said.
Like any hobbyist, Baumann keeps his treasures in pristine condition, hand-washing them once a week. And the winter season doesn’t stop him; his garage is heated.
“I’ve had many people tell me that my 1998 looks brand new since I keep it in such great condition,” Baumann said.
Baumann likes to share his passion for BMW cars with his communication students. Last semester, his Public Relations Cases and Research class used BMW as the client to conduct a semester-long research project on. Baumann even took the class on a trip to visit the local BMW dealership in Davenport.
“One day this semester he brought a first aid kit to class with him because he had a cut,” Emilee Renwick, one of Baumann’s students, said. “The kit was made of black leather and had the BMW symbol on it.”
Baumann is looking forward to adding to his collection in the next couple of years. His dream car would be an M3, but his next purchase will likely be a 328i or 335i. Although, whatever he buys in the future, nothing can replace his 1998 318ti. He says he will never sell his first car that he worked so hard for.