Last month I wrote a piece, “The Two That Got Away,” that detailed how my need to be thorough in verifying the condition of cars I’m interested in saved me from buying a rusty ’68 2002—but also resulted in my losing out on a very interesting Euro Golf ’72 2002tii. In that piece, I concluded that I probably need to recalibrate my risk/reward curve: To get greater reward, one often needs to take more risk.
Well, it’s not only about the money. Owning a BMW and maintaining a BMW are two different things; the vast majority of people who own or lease BMWs will never work on them, nor should they. BMW’s warranty covers repairs, and its Maintenance Program takes care of routine maintenance for the two, three, or four years that most owners have their BMWs.
BMWs, particularly 2002s, have been a near-constant presence in the last 32 years of my life. When Maire Anne and I drove to the Weminuche Wilderness in Colorado in 1982 and hiked up over the Continental Divide, where I pulled my grandmother’s ring out of my pocket and asked her to marry me, it was my Malaga ’73 Malaga 2002 that brought us to the trailhead.
It is not really true that I drive to Oktoberfest in secret hopes of running into a herd of galloping gravel that will assault my windshield to the point of replacement, but I must confess that the joy of sitting behind a new windshield is an amazing thing. It usually takes three or four years of cross-country driving before some errant hunk of granite cracks the glass; in the meantime, the minor pits and craters from sand and smaller stones—the ones that do not crack the windshield, although they do leave at least a tiny divot—accumulate with a devious subtlety.
I recently met a guy with whom I’ve become fast friends. “Mark,” like many of us, is a car guy through and through. He had the good fortune of cashing out of an executive job at a big Massachusetts computer corporation at exactly the right time, and began indulging his automotive passions—first Corvettes, then Porsches, then Ferraris. “The sales tax alone is stupid money,” he says, “and you can’t gas up and drive anywhere without people rubbernecking. I’m done with exotics.” Finally, he turned to vintage British, German, and Italian cars in the $15,000-to-$30,000 range. He’s got a barn-sized garage that holds fifteen cars.