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14th Annual SoCal Vintage BMW Meet 2021! “All couped up”

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Kids ask some interesting questions


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My family celebrated my niece's 17th birthday yesterday, so Susan and I took the tii down to my sister's house since it was a beautiful day.

I planned on taking both my niece and nephew for a ride since they haven't experienced my "second oldest" car. My nephew declined to go for a ride (me = disappointed), so I took my niece Caroline for a 20 minute ride.

Walking up to the car, I unlocked the pass. side door.

Caroline: Wow, no automatic door locks.

Me: Nope, not on this car.

After getting inside, she buckled the smooth seatbelt (thanks to bluedevils Al), then said: Wow, this is really small.

Me: Yes, but you can really see out all around.

Caroline: I don't see any airbags and you have a wood steering wheel.

Me: Airbags weren't standard until the early 90's. The steering wheel (Momo) is an aftermarket sporty wheel.

While driving around her subdivision, she says:

Aren't you going a little fast?

Me: It just seems like it (we were going 35 -40 MPH).

Caroline: It's kind of loud. Isn't there any insulation?

Me: It's an old car, but there is good insulation under the carpet. New cars have tons of insulation and lots of plastic parts.

Caroline: Is the car going to stop at the intersection (stop sign)?

Me: Oh yes.

Caroline: (pointing to the shift pattern on the dash): What is that for?

Me: To tell the driver what gear to shift to. I then run thru all 5 forward speeds and she now understands. My car is the first manual shift car she has been in. I explained how fun it is to have complete control over the car, rather than just driving it.

Caroline: Your car is neat, but I think it is too old and I need an automatic transmission.

Me: But we already have two of them. These cars are more basic and allow you to enjoy driving.

Caroline: What is the car made out of?

Me: Steel - just thicker than newer cars.

Caroline (pointing to the wheels after we get out): Those are pretty small.

Me: They are larger than the original ones.

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That's pretty funny.

Reminds me of a Peter Egan article I read yeas ago where he dreams he is transported back in time and has the latest R&T with him. He is captured, and the King wants him to build a car. So with his best efforts and the best craftsmen available he manages to build something close to a Morgan. When he gives it to the King, he is disappointed because of no airbags, AC, power windows, locks........

I think your niece needs another ride in the car.


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Really enjoyed your post.

My 11 year old son is leery of the 02. The lack of airbags makes him nervous, and it is louder (engine, road, wind noise) than even my wife's Mini Cooper S, which isn't exactly quiet.

He's coming around, though. Slowly but surely. He helped me put the back bumper back together last weekend, and seemed to take some pride in helping assemble something from parts into a whole.

Which is big from a kid that is generally disoriented unless he is parked in front of a screen of some sort. ;-)


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Very funny Jim. Crazy what kids are/will be missing out on. My 21 year old step son bought an 89 volvo 2 weeks ago. He thought the distributor was where the spark plugs were (huh?), thought the over-drive button on the shift was to engage the turbo (already been driving it for 2 weeks)... automatic of course.

My two young daughters (9 & 12) love the '02 & have spent lots of time in it with me. I've taught them everything about old cars that I can. They seem to like it since we get lots of smiles, waives & thumbs... I hope I'm making a positive impact on their future!

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Guest Anonymous

My soon-to-be 19 year old son has lived through 11 years of re-hab on the '02 and there have been some nice upgrades along the way (5-speed, LSD, 2.2 liter MM engine, Recaro seats, etc.). But to him "the single most important improvement" was this year's installation of retractor seat belts. He could not believe that the passive Klippen system "actually would work in a crash." Of coarse, the lack of air bags freaks him right out.



'72 Malaga


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Awesome story Jim. Cracks me up!

My 7 year old loves the old cars. I try and make it a big deal, so she thinks it's a treat to ride in them. Plus - in both of the ones that run, the belts in front are 3 point (vs 2 point in the back) - so she gets to ride in the front seat when we go riding around.

She keeps telling me that the mini will be her's when she is old enough to drive. I better start expectation management now, so she's not too disappointed later.


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I was no different...here are a few of my goofy things.

Just recalling my first experience inside a Saab while working at an auto shop... The guys all laughed at me when I couldn't locate the ignition switch on the dash (it of course was between the seats on the console).

My first challenging drive of a right hand steer M-B 450 SL.

My first attempt at starting a Dark blue Triumph GT6 with really stale gas.

Accessing the oil filter on a Yugo GV (or was it a Renault LeCar?).

Trying to remember the LH lug nut threads on Chrysler products.

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When I lived in NC, I had a couple of 2002s around. Keys were there, they had gas in them. I told my kids don't drive off our property. My wife's 02 out here is verboten for them(and me). I got this little Golf car and my 17 year old said she needs to learn to shift gears again.(she was 10 in NC). I just said that we can start in a parking lot and when she get's it down she can drive it anytime she wants to. She is in the black jacket in the older pic and here she is today.



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During the summer after I turned 16, I enrolled in a drivers education course so that I could drive at night at 17 rather than waiting until 18, and so that I could reduce my insurance costs. The drivers ed car had an automatic transmission. Prior to then, I had driven stick shift lawn mowers, farm tractors, and my parents', grandparents' and friends' cars, all of which had a manual trans. I don't think I had been in many, if any cars that had automatic transmissions, so the concept was quite foreign to me. Of course, as the son of a very stubborn engineer, I'd be damned if I were going to ask questions about a mechanical device. How hard could it be to figure this shit out?

No clutch. No clutch? The big, flat pedal must be the brake. Oh, and there's a little pedal off to the left. That must be the clutch. Odd place to put it, but I'm sure there's a good engineering reason for it. (Our 1942 Ford farm tractor had two brake pedals, one on each side of the tunnel, so why not a clutch way over on the left side of the driver's foot well?)

And there's a gear specifically for parking. I wonder how the hell that's gonna work? How will it know whether I want to go forward or backward? Oh, there's a reverse gear on the shifter. So parking must be like a really low first gear.

Made for a VERY exciting, unnerving, educational and stirring first drive in an automatic. I though my instructor was going to have a heart attack, and the two horrified fellow students in the back were scrambling to get the HELL out of there.

Ahh, memories...

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Fun stuff Jim and others!...I have a nephew that is maybe 32 with two little ones now. When he was about first grade age, I had (still have) a 74 Porsche 914, that he walked around twice and then asked which was the front of the car. He, of course, now wants the car...

Kids are great, but a different kind of fun is taking my 88-year old mom for a ride. She just smiles. My late dad had an 02, and she used to drive it and the one I had in high school frequently. All she says now is "why dont you drive the 2002 everyday?" Pretty fair question.... Dave V. in NC

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My daughters (18 & 21) would love to have my 74 tii or 70 2800 . My youngest drives a 86 325 eta 5 speed and my oldest just gave me back my 81 528i Euro spec. Having a car while going to school in Berkeley was too much hassle for her. When I want to do some routine maintenance on their cars, they always ask me, "do I get to drive the tii or the 2800 while you work on my car?" Silly kids, I've got other cars for you to drive, not these. Both of my daughters hate automatics and love to drive a stickshift.


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