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Alpine Glow – IMM 2011 in Switzerland

Some say that objects have no soul, but certain ones can certainly bring soulmates together, often giving the feeling that one object or another is indeed filled with life, especially when a MINI is involved. An annual fixed point for all soulmate MINI fans is the IMM. The abbreviation stands for "International MINI Meeting", but this is far more than just another car rally. It's a throwback from another era. Everything began in Moers, Germany, in the year 1978, i.e. in an epoch when making a date was not as pure and simple as using the Internet or mobile phones. In the first few years, you drove to the IMM because you had read about it in magazines, flyers or the paper, or heard mention of it in a local pub.

Today, 34 events later, quite a few things have changed. In the meantime, we communicate via Internet and are always up to date regarding the planning status. You no longer fear getting lost searching for the event venue: you have a mobile navigation device in your MINI. And if nothing else works, luckily there is a mobile phone with which you can call a MINI friend from the good old days whom you recently rediscovered on Facebook to ask for help.

International MINI Meeting: Switzerland 2011
The view from above: 'MINI heaven' high in the clouds of the Swiss Alps © Ulrich Arendts

This perennial MINI event, however, has retained one thing across generations: the sense of affinity amongst MINI drivers that binds them and brings them together from all over the world once a year to a location somewhere in Europe. In 2011, it was Switzerland's turn again. The Swiss hosted an IMM for the third time, a purely private occasion, staged with a lot of dedication, even more time, and a lot of passion. With the familiar Swiss virtues, they managed to impart a very special charm to "their" IMM. Even the so-so and not particularly summery weather of the first two days was unable to prevent a great many very exuberant MINI enthusiasts from strolling through the spacious grounds of the airfield that hosted the event.

International MINI Meeting: Switzerland 2011
A great place to swap stories... or parts! © Axel Griesinger

And that is also one of the main features of an International MINI Meeting: no hectic rush, no overloaded entertainment program, and no excessive range of catering on offer. All you have to do is be yourself, a MINI fan. It is therefore no wonder that a great many new MINI drivers have been warmly welcomed into the heart of the meeting that was originally focussed purely on Classic Mini. The presence of a sense of affinity is self-evident, no matter whether the MINI is one year old or 50 years old. It is precisely for this reason that the MINI marque has supported the International MINI Meeting for the fourth year in a row.

International MINI Meeting: Switzerland 2011
The perfect vintage car. © Axel Griesinger

The IMM is therefore a phenomenon. For 33 years now, people of all age groups and with a wide variety of interests have been meeting at the largest privately organised MINI meeting in the world, united by only one thing: their love of this car. Not even the longest trip to the meeting and the most miserable weather can stop people pursuing this passion. After all, at the destination point you meet old acquaintances, encounter new faces and good friends, perhaps also some you had never heard of. Some visitors to this traditional event only meet up once a year, and there is always a lot to talk about: the MINI itself, life in general and the rest of the world. This is why most IMM visitors also spend the nights at their MINI, sleeping in a tent.

International MINI Meeting: Switzerland 2011
Some assembly required. Camping is the way to go at IMM. © Ulrich Arendts

This is the perfect match for the down-to-earth approach of the IMM origins at the end of the 1970s: everything began very modestly as a small meeting on a campsite. Today, however, most campsites would hardly be able to cope with the annual MINI meeting. This year alone, 292 clubs, approximately 1,700 MINIs and more than 2,500 participants attended. In the meantime, figures like that are even more the rule than the exception, and when the meeting takes place every five years (2009 was the last time) in the country of the birth of the MINI - England - the number of guests and represented nationalities can rise even further, and the event is even attended by fans of the marque from Japan, USA and Australia. No matter whether it's the 'Concours d'Elegance', the dealer stands, slalom seesions or the exuberant Saturday night party: there is always something on offer for the assembled MINI aficionados.

What? Never taken part in an IMM? Then it's high time. The event will be held again on 25 May 2012, when we say "Uf Wiederluege, Switzerland, Üdvözöljük, Hungary" - and this time a premiere is involved. For the first time in the history of the International MINI Meeting, fans of the marque will be going to Hungary. To Balatonfüred on Lake Balaton to be precise, to a place that is a particularly good reflection of the spirit of the IMM: a campsite! See you there. At the http://www.imm2012.hu!

Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (13 images)

All gallery images ©Axel Griesinger unless otherwise noted.

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