Monday, October 23, 2006

Being a Driver: A Commitment to the Car.

There are two kinds of BMW owners out there: there are your average owners and then there are drivers. I’m sure you’ve seen the average owners, the hair, the make-up, the brand new 330Ci. Yeah, that’s not me. First of all I don’t have any hair. Second, I don’t wear make-up. And finally, though I do own Bimmers (yes, that’s exactly how you spell it) I also know how to drive them.

Why a BMW, one might ask? Well, I think there are 3 reasons: heritage, driving experience, and design. When I was growing up I remember driving with my padre on a windy highway along the Hudson River in our cherry red ‘76 2002. The perfect combination of leather, oil, and breeze in the air, totally complemented the rollercoaster-like handling of that groovy old car. A 2002 has huge windows all the way around the cockpit and is completely driver-centric. Even though it’s not registered at the moment, I now have my own 2002, a ’75. I also drive a ’99 M Coupe.
In Bimmerese, M stands for Motorsport, the tuning division of BMW corporate. They make cars go fast. Driving the Coupe on a daily basis has taught me a few things about upholding the brand. First rule: when you see another BMW driver (not owner) you give ‘em a high-beam flash. Bimmers worthy of the high-beam flash include: retro vehicles, like 2002s and Bavarias, other M cars, and unique or well-kept BMWs. Now, if a fairly standard BMW model high-beams you, you may flash back, this is actually a fellow driver disguised as a mere owner.

Second rule: choose who you smoke wisely. When you’re at a stoplight, and the car next to you revs its engine, look before you leap. You’re a BMW driver, you can’t just drop the hammer on anyone. First you have to be able to beat them, second, they need to be worthy competition. So what does that mean? Well, it means comparable cars are best—other Bimmers, other German cars, go for it. (Just watch it with the Porsches, someone might know how to actually handle one of those things.)

It’s some of the Japanese cars that get tricky. Nissan Z? Do it. WRX? Light ‘em up. (Beware of the STI.) Modified, spaceship-like Honda Civic? Not even close to worthy. You see where I’m going with this. Mustangs, Camaros, and even Corvettes are all fair game, but let them make the first move—otherwise ignore.

Third rule: there’s nothing wrong with a friendly game of cat and mouse on the freeway. Cat and mouse is not about winning or beating the other guy. It’s about mutually pushing your cars into slightly more extreme driving conditions. This works best when the other vehicle is a BMW driver and you take turns being the ‘wing man’.

Bottom line is this, you either get it or you don’t. There are a lot of BMW owners out there and only a handful of drivers. So when you come across one, make it worth it.
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