Where to begin?
I like cars a lot. I design them as my occupation, and I work on and drive them as my hobby. I'm slowly building my skill set with mini-projects. My dad likes cars too, and though he's never been interested in the mechanical side of them, he brought me into his BMW passion from an early age. Once upon a time, before us kids, he had a 2002 that he loved.
A few years ago, when I decided to buy a running project car to start getting my hands dirty, the 02 was an obvious starting point. Reasonable prices for cars and parts; knowledgeable and passionate fan base; antique enough to be simple to work on but new enough to drive like a modern car. Without knowing exactly what I was doing, I watched the market for a few months before falling for a '71 Chamonix I found in Los Angeles. The longer version of the story is here, but my girlfriend and I flew down from San Francisco, bought the car, and drove it back up PCH to the city, where I was living. From the start, the car was an adventure. So much fun to drive, and with so much charm.
It was a great trip - it had a little bit of everything. We bombed down Mulholland and saw Jay Leno; stayed overnight in Morro Bay where the seals barked all night; got a push-start from a German family on vacation when the battery died ("Ve had to help, it iz a German car."). I also learned what that red charging light means, as the alternator died early in the journey and the car threw in the towel 5 short miles from home.
The car was pretty solid from the start - not perfect, but great driver quality - and after replacing the alternator I moved on to other small projects on the brakes, stereo, and a general tune-up. My girlfriend loved the car, and we participated in the great Bay Area 02 community events, the highlights being the "Not the 49-mile drive," Swap and Show at the Brisbane Marina, and some CCA events (Silver Rabbit Mystery Tour). While I had roundie I decided I wanted something "with horsepower," and bought my second BMW - a 2011 E90 M3. Manual transmission, cloth interior, no iDrive, no sunroof, competition package.
This was a strange and scary car. It was far more expensive than anything I'd bought before. It had a serious motor, serious brakes, and serious consequences if you tried to tap its performance on public roads. Third gear topped out at 105 MPH; it was a time bomb either for my safety, my wallet, or my license. I learned an important lesson with that car: I am the type of person who greatly prefers a "slow car fast" that can be wound out on the back roads and deliver fun at or around the speed limit. After about 6 months I replaced that car with a 1988 M3.
This was a good combination of cars. However, it was not to last. You see, early in my ownership of Roundie an idea had come in to my head, an idea that made so much sense that it could not be ignored. My dad would be turning 60 in April of 2015. He had visited and driven Roundie and enjoyed himself, reminiscing about his old car and talking about finding a car of his own. I knew that my father was too practical to actually go through with buying something, so I made the decision: I would surprise my dad with the car for his birthday. There were some tricky logistics for shipping a car cross-country to Atlanta and making sure he wouldn't find out, but the pieces fell into place and he had no idea what was coming.
The moment of surprise/total confusion:
First drive, with his original CCA badge from his old 02 on the grille:
Surprise! It was a big gift, but without getting too sappy I'll say that I owe my dad more than I could ever repay for all he's given me through the years. This was the end of my time with the car, which made me sad, but it was the start of my dad's time with the car. Roundie gets to live in a garage now, running around north Georgia on the weekends and making my dad smile. I'm also fortunate enough to get to revisit my old friend every time I go home to see my folks.
This was a long entry, but it is just the start. With my 2002 gone I focused time and energy on the M3, but I kept finding myself on Craigslist scouring for the right car to get back into the round-tail light game. And about a week ago, you could say that I struck gold...