Words and photography by Vijay Sankar (@pink_helmet)

When Jason Cammisa decided to host an impromptu meetup with the beloved creator of M539 Restorations—Sreten—we didn’t have to think twice about showing up. Nor did 100 or so others who flocked to that tiny corner of San Rafael on a day’s notice to exchange pleasantries with the BMW whisperer.

Sreten comes off as a humble and approachable personality, completely devoid of any pretense that may accompany the level of adulation he gets from around the world. Always ready to answer questions, patiently listening to your wrenching antics with BMWs and otherwise, he is a jewel of a human being to spend time with.

His patience in systematically dealing with old and broken cars was very handy in engaging with the large contingent of fans who took turns to exchange their share of German car trivia with him. We took the opportunity to fire away a few questions at him in the midst of the long queue of BMW enthusiasts waiting for their turn.

What was your first car, and how did you get into BMWs?

E39 530i – I bought a very used car that needed work, and I was broke, which meant I had to learn to fix it. And in the process of doing that, I fell in love with old BMWs.

 …How many cars have you owned so far?

I’ve owned about 60 cars. From all over the world. US, Europe, Dubai…

What is an overrated and an underrated BMW? Thoughts on new BMWs?

Overrated – E30 M3; underrated – E65

The E60 M5 is the newest BMW model I like. Don’t like anything newer very much. The F87 M2 is nice.

Thoughts on diesel BMWs? Would you own one?

I don’t like the sound of them, I don’t like the smell of them, I don’t like how they feel. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve built some great diesel engines that make a lot of great torque and drive well, but they’re not for me. I don’t like to work on them.

Do Mercedes and Audi pique your interest?

Yes, but I’ll stick to BMWs for now.

How do you compare car culture in the US vs Germany?

I’ve lived in Santa Barbara for a few years, and I love California. Both cultures are good in different ways. You can modify cars much more easily here in the US. Passing the TUF inspection in Germany is hard. And every TÜV officer has a different set of opinions. The US is huge, so the car culture is diverse as well compared to Germany, with so many different kinds of driving roads stateside.

The Autobahn is the #1 reason I like to live in Germany. I don’t want to worry about the speed limit when I take my car out and start pushing it. Plus, the quality of life is really high in Germany.

Is there anything that you don’t like about your work?

Nothing. I love every part of it. Maybe the business side of it is not so likeable. Monetizing it. But I am a one-man army, and I like everything I do with old BMWs.


Words and photography by Vijay Sankar (@pink_helmet)

2 responses to “Six Questions with Sreten of M539 Restorations”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: