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Tripping with the M6: when you get behind the wheel of a BMW M6, get ready. This 10-cylinder brute will take you from L.A. to Palm Springs before you can say "beamer." Here's the story of one weekend with friends and BMW's newest mythmaker.

In Palm Swings, Calif. September is still high summer, with triple-digit temperatures and wispy waves of heat rising off the pavement along Interstate 10. Standing there a few Saturdays ago, you might have seen a shimmery white dot in the distance, followed by a deep buzz growing louder, as menacing and hypnotic us a swarm of African bees. That would have been me. barreling toward you in the 2006 BMW M6. Trust me, you would have taken a step back.

BMW's beautiful beast is assuredly for the few. With a 500-horsepower V-10 engine, this $96,000 race ear piles even more power on the already sublime BMW 650. The resulting marriage of brute three and luxe interior demands a date with the autobahn--or, from the well-heeled gay Angeleno's point of view, a lightning weekend run to Palm Springs.

First, though, we headed down the coast to introduce our M6 to a distinguished relative. A close friend owns and cherishes a 1987 M6, and we wanted to size up the two side by side (above). Then. as now, the M6 was a very exclusive commodity: Fewer than 2,000 were sold in the U.S. market. And until this year, BMW had never made another. So how does the 2006 M6 stack up against the 1987 version? Wickedly, thank you. Park these beauties in line, and the family pedigree is obvious. Chris Bangle, who leads the creative drive team at BMW, deserves props for an amazing reinterpretation. But the new M6 carries a sexy whiff of danger all its own--not to mention all increase of some 250 horsepower.

With the sun blazing we headed for the freeway that would take us from coastal Lunada Bay, Calif., to the desert. To BMW's credit, the M6 is comfortable in traffic. In town you can put the ear in drive and casually go with the flow. But the brute inside is just waiting.

No need to worry about a clutch pedal: Once you use the paddle shifters on the steering wheel or the shift on the console, seven gears pumping 400 horsepower are at your fingertips. A fiendish multitasker of a computer sweeps you along: Three settings adjust the firmness of your tide, and a control switch varies how aggressively the transmission shifts. To restate: This ride will redline for you. It's spooky-cool: You just hold on to the wheel and the car revs up to 8.250 on the tach before it shifts itself upward. And you're not even at full power yet. Push a button and all 500 horses roar to action. You've just shaken up that nest of African bees for real.

Racetrack savvy shows up in the M6's handsome carbon fiber rook which provides incredible strength and structural rigidity yet weighs much less than steel, improving handling by lowering the vehicle's center of gravity. The M6 shoots from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds--first enough to put your heart in your throat and keep it there. Yet your ride is rock-solid. With BMW-engineered suspension, two modes of computer-managed traction control, and massive 19-inch tires dressed to grab, go ahead and try to knock this sucker off its tracks.

Aside from its otherworldly performance, the M6 doesn't shout its special stares. Cues are limited to M6 badges displayed on the exterior, and M6 colors on the dash and stick shift and in the stitching around the leather-clad steering wheel. Whatever--our M6 was recognizable enough to turn heads among gay passers-by on a Palm Springs Saturday night.

Sunday was photo shoot day: We got up early and made it over to the home of Paul Cancelli and Mitch Chen. We also pressed into service our pals Terri Fabris and Kate Brandt, in from nearby Desert Hot Springs. As we snacked on rosemary toast, the gay neighborhood awoke. Dog walkers and morning joggers hit the sidewalk. And our BMW once again gathered a circle of admirers. "You could sell it right now!" exulted our commerce-minded host, Mitch. No doubt. But then we'd have missed the drive back to Los Angeles, and no way were we going to do that.

Gearheads unite!

Want to meet other LGBT car lovers? Whether your taste is vintage, rugged, or something else, you may find something of interest among this select sampling of queer car groups across the United States.

VINTAGE AND GENERAL INTEREST

Lambda Car Club International claims nearly 2,000 members and has 27 local chapters, primarily in the East, Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest, including such colorful local clubs as the Classic Chassis Car Clubs of Texas, the Sunday Afternoon Car Klub in Colorado, the Straight Eights of Maryland, and the Flamingo Auto Group of South Florida. http://clubs.hemmings.com/clubsites/lambdacarclub/FrameSTART.html

Great Autos of Yesteryear, based in California, boasts 1,200 members in several Western states. Events include the Endless Summer Car Show in Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Movies and Cars Under the Stars Drive-in Movie Night. www.greatautos.org/

Freewheelers Car Club has 400 members, primarily in Northern California, with some in other parts of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It stages an annual benefit show and other events. www.thefreewheelers.net

OFF-ROAD

In Southern California, 4x4 Pride organizes off-road trips each month. http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/4x4pride/

Bay Area Renegades organizes outings to explore Western trails with fellow San Francisco area 4x4 owners. http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/bay_area_renegades/

Gay Men Off-Road Club welcomes all 4x4 rigs for events in the Pacific Northwest. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gmor

Bent Wheelers organizes 4x4 events in California and western Nevada. http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentwheelers/
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:AUTOS
Author:Weil, Daniel
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Nov 7, 2006
Words:945
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