‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. No real reason for that line but it is required with the title.
Most, if not all, of you know that I own and regularly drive 2 BMW 2002s. A 1974 and a 1975. These two cars while beginning life as family sport sedans clearly lived in different parts of the country with different owners who had different ideas of what car ownership meant. How I came to own these two cars that are nearly opposite, even in color, I still sometimes wonder myself.
Having driven wagons, sedans, and small SUV’s coupled with a new driver on the way, meant it was time for me, the car guy, to get a car guy car. I wanted something I could drive every day, be cool, and handle well. After much consideration my dream was to be a BMW 2002 owner. Now Birmingham, Alabama is certainly not a mecca for small, unique, vintage German cars so my search went to the web with the entire U.S. my location.
Hemmings, Craigslist, 2002 forums became my morning reading list. If I found something interesting I would post on the forums for advice where I would get frank responses such as:
- ‘I wouldn’t buy a car from them.’
- ‘That price is crazy.’
However, my questions did not go unnoticed. One day I receivedan e-mail from a guy in St. Louis, MO saying he has a car for sale. He includes a few dark pictures of the car. St. Louis has snow, right? This thing will be a rust bucket, but I will at least listen. He promises more pictures that weekend. At the same time I have located a 1967 1600 with a potent 150HP Metric Mechanic 2.0 liter engine that has caught my fancy. I call that owner and the car is exactly as described. No serious rust issues, really pretty upgraded interior, with a great motor.
Meanwhile the pictures of the car from St. Louis arrive. I ask the owner:
‘Can you send me current pictures, I don’t want the ones of when the car was new.’
- A near perfect, automatic, 1974 that has had 2 owners and clearly been cared for its entire life
- A really unique 1600 with a motor that is worth the price of the entire car
Being about the same price didn’t help. Regardless of which car I went with, I was going to modify the Hades out of it (Sorry about the language). I went with the 1974 because it met my needs at the time.
When Ivory, that’s what I call her, got home I realized that the car is simply stunning. The paint looks better than new, the interior carpet isn’t faded, no cracked dash, the seats recovered and re-stuffed using original BMW materials could not be overlooked. Add to that the larger carburetor, the upgraded sway bars and the car was simply perfect and there was no possible way I could modify it. If I did the car gods would surely send down a bolt of lightning and destroy my points so that the car would never run again. So I drove her as is all the while questioning should I modify the car or not?
A couple of years later I am driving home and I see what has to be the drug addicted, party going, live life to the fullest Black 2002 in the country. She has an obnoxious exhaust, doors that don’t shut and an interior that Satan himself couldn’t make look worse. In short, I make a friend and soon negotiations for purchase happen. A good price is agreed on. The car runs but can’t propel itself forward so we ‘tow’ it home (which means on flat stretches of road and downhill the car can move itself, uphill his friend’s Wagoneer will pull it). Ebony, that’s her name, is officially mine.
When a car doesn’t run it is always one of three things:
- Something else
Eeny, meeny, miny, mo, it must be spark so there I’ll go. A new starter coil, conversion to electronic points and voila – she runs AND drives. Half the lights work, windows don’t roll up or down, wing windows partially work, seats can’t be moved back and forth and there is no ignition key or tumbler or trunk lock. A few turns of a screwdriver, some used and new parts and the car runs and drives well. I have me a daily driver.
3+ years later and I still have both cars. Both cars start and run nearly every day. Both draw a crowd where ever I go. When asked about the cars I say that Ivory is an accountant, has never had a speeding ticket and is in bed most nights by 8:00. Ebony loves Grateful Dead concerts, has never said no to a party invite, goes to bed late and gets up late. And while Ivory and Ebony are
complete opposites, I love driving them both. They make me smile each time I get behind the wheel. I like to see the reflection of them in store windows, I love to see the smiles and waves I get and the frequent ‘I love your car.’
So the Tale of Two cars continues on. It amazes me that that two cars that are nothing alike except for make and model can make the same owner grin ear to ear on each and every outing. I guess that is the thing about cars, like puppies, they just find a way to get into your heart.