Humans have the unique capacity of turning anything into art. We can inject our soul into a lifeless piece of junk and give character to the most mundane of things. Like… a car, for example.

In today’s world of mass-produced cars, many of us have become disenchanted with the whole industry. This is why we often look back at classics and admire what they stood for. But some people go one (or several) steps further. For them, the classic look is not enough.

If you think no vehicle is truly unique, you have clearly not heard about Rusty Slammington. This beast of a car cannot even be called a classic anymore. In my opinion, that mean BMW is the perfect illustration of what art really is: creativity, pain, and most of all – passion.

Modifying a classic car – crazy or genius?

Passion projects in the car world can be found all over the place. People like overhauling their vehicles for various reasons. Some want to bring forth their personality, others lust for that pure power. That being said, modifying certain cars can be a bit of a taboo.

Car enthusiasts do not usually overhaul classic vehicles. Except for a few reconstructions here and there, you will not really see a lot of tunings, body customization, and the like. After all, classics have their own worth for which you are supposed to appreciate them. As you can learn in our article on modernizing classic vehicles, many people are not fond of that whole idea.

All these things make Rusty Slammington quite a surprising phenomenon. On the one hand, it is one of the most modded cars in existence. On the other hand, the original model is a well-regarded classic. You would not expect people to be happy about ruining such a car then. Yet exactly the opposite happened. Rusty is currently one of the most cherished BMWs in the world. How come?

Reviving a dead beast

In 1981, BMW came up with a car that had to fix the mistakes of the BMW 5-series E12 model. But while model E28 (as it was called) successfully did that, it still did not garner enough attention. If it was not for its M5 version, the model would have easily fallen into obscurity.

Today, however, E28 is considered to be one of the best BMW classics. Its 535i version, which Rusty is built on, has recently skyrocketed in price. Though you would find it difficult to buy one even if you wanted it. So who on earth would ruin such a vehicle by modding it? And why would people cheer Rusty if the original has such a great reputation?

See, good ol’ Rusty was not your average 535i. In fact, it was much worse. The car had been forgotten, and time had taken its toll on it. Covered in dust and heavily corroded, the vehicle could seemingly fit into only one place – the junkyard. However, Mike Burroughs, its owner, did not want to leave it like that. Being a professional modder, he decided to breathe life back into the poor old thing – even if that meant a complete overhaul. Unfortunately, the project did not go according to plan!

The legend of an undying car

It took a lot of creativity and many resources to turn the half-dead BMW E28 into a working car again. The signature BMW look remained, though you could easily tell this was no ordinary vehicle. Thus, in 2010, the 535i model was buried and Rusty Slammington emerged from its remains.

Everything would have been fine if the story ended here. Sadly though, things had turned rather grim just a year later. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, Rusty burned up in a fire accident. All that hard work and genuine dedication went up in flames. The only thing left was the charred frame of the unlucky BMW.

Understandably, Mike Burroughs was rather disheartened. It seemed like fate itself wanted this car in the junkyard. But by then, the vehicle had already gained a following, which would not let it die. It encouraged Mike to not give up and resurrect Rusty for a second time. So he did!

From here on everything gets increasingly more complex. It had taken only a short while to bring the car back to life the first time around. The second time, though – a whole different story. It took almost 8 years of twists and turns, but Rusty is finally back. And now you too can marvel at it up close. Let’s see how! 

Passion: 50 years of BMW

If you are not a dedicated BMW fan, you may not know much about the BMW Car Club of America. It stands behind some of the coolest exhibitions of the marque in the US. For example, last year they had a show of the BMW 2002 model – the car, around which the club was founded!

This year, the BMW Car Club of America celebrates its 50th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, it decided to host another wonderful exhibition, which by now has already started. This time around it features many other iconic models of the German manufacturer. And also – Rusty Slammington!

rusty slammington

The awesome piece of art will be present alongside plenty of classics. Those include the 1988 E30 M3 Club Racing and 1970 E9 2800CS among many others. Honestly though, Rusty is quite the special guest there. If you do not see it now, you may never get such a chance again. As it turns out, Mike Burroughs had one last surprise for us…

What it means to have a true BMW passion

I have already mentioned that Burroughs is a professional modder. In fact, he is one of the people behind StanceWorks. They have many projects in their portfolio, but Rusty was quite special. Mike himself says that the journey with it has been the most constructive experience for him so far.

Because of that, Burroughs did not want to sell it at all. However, at some point, he realized that such a car could never be truly driven (it is not even street legal), and he could not give it the attention it deserved. Then again, he did not want it to gather dust either, so he decided to sell it to BMW or to a museum. However, someone even more fitting expressed interest in owning it.

You may be wondering who would top the very manufacturer of the model as the new owner of the car. Well, how about a person who is a true legend in the BMW community? The one who is simply known as the Collector.

Currently, the mysterious figure owns over 45 classic BMWs, which means he has one of the largest private collections of BMW vehicles in the world. He is known for tracking down elusive classics and giving them a home. He also does his best to preserve them as much as possible.

Rusty Slammington may actually be the exception in his collection, as he is known to prefer unaltered classics. However, in the Collector’s own words he wants to be a caregiver, and Rusty definitely requires care. He may not even see it as an E28 model anymore, but as a unique piece of art that needs a beholder.

What’s your take on BMW?

To be fair, I am not very particular about modern vehicles. I would never consider myself “a fan” of any current car marque. The vast majority of the most recent models can hardly be distinguished from one another, and most of them lack real character. They are nothing more than tools. Sadly, I think they are built with the idea to not last very long anyway.

With that said, I have to admit that BMW classics are awesome. There is something special about vintage German manufacturing that you do not see in American classics. In a way, those old BMWs are the European answer to US muscles. Because of all that I will always have a deep appreciation for them.

But what about you? Do you find BMW classics interesting? I hope that Rusty’s story has been intriguing regardless of your feelings for the brand. If you prefer other vintage marques make sure to mention them. I will do my best to delve into their history as well!

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