“As I sit here, fresh from the elegant embrace of BMW’s new 2002, it occurs to me that something between nine and ten million Americans are going to make a terrible mistake this year. Like dutiful robots they will march out of their identical split-level boxes and buy the wrong kind of car.
“Depress the clutch. Easy. Like there was no spring. Snick. First gear. Remove weight of left foot from clutch. Place weight of right foot on accelerator. First stoplight. I blow off aging Plymouth sedan and 6-cylinder Mustang. Not worthy of my steel. Too easy. Next time. Big old 6-banger Healey and ’65 GTO. GTO can’t believe I’m serious, lets me get away before he opens all the holes and comes smoking past with pain and outrage all over his stricken countenance. Nearly hits the rear-end of a truck in a panicky attempt to reaffirm virility. Austin-Healey is a different matter. Tries for all he’s worth, but British engineering know-how is not up to the job. I don’t even shift fast from third to fourth, just to let him feel my utter contempt.
“Nobody believes it, until I suck their headlights out. But nobody doubts it, once that nearly-silent, unobtrusive little car has disappeared down the road and around the next bend, still accelerating without a sign of brake lights. I’ve learned not to tangle with the kids in their big hot rods with the 500 horsepower engines unless I can get them in a tight place demanding agility, brakes, and the raw courage that is built into the BMW driver’s seat at no extra cost.
“What you like to look for are Triumphs and Porsches and such. Them you can slaughter, no matter how hard they try. And they always try. They really believe all that jazz about their highly-tuned, super sophisticated sports machines, and the first couple of drummings at the hands of the 2002 make them think they’re off on a bad trip or something. But then they learn the awful truth, and they begin to hang back at traffic signals, pretending that they weren’t really racing at all. Ha! Slink home with your tail behind your legs, MG. Hide in the garage when you see a BMW coming. If you have to race with something, pick a sick kid on an old bicycle.
“I’ll be interested to see who those 10,000 owners of the 1968 BMW 2002 actually turn out to be. The twits won’t buy it, because it’s too sensible, too comfortable, too easy to live with. The kids won’t buy it because it doesn’t look like something on its way to a soft moon-landing and it doesn’t have three—billion horsepower. BMW buyers will—I suspect—have to be pretty well-adjusted enthusiasts who want a good car, people with the sense of humor to enjoy its giant-killing performance, and the taste to appreciate its mechanical excellence. They will not be the kind who buy invisible middle-of-the line 4-door sedans because that’s what their friends and neighbors buy. It’s too real.
“The German paper Auto Bild recently called the 2002 the Fluster Bombe, which means ‘Whispering Bomb’. Feel free to test-drive one, but please don’t tell any of those ten million squares who are planning to buy something else. They deserve whatever they get. Now turn your hymnals to number 2002 and we’ll sing the two choruses of The Whispering Bomb.”
PS: In case you’re wondering whatever came of good old David E. Davis, I’ve discovered that he’s just been made the Editor-in-Chief of a new car mag called Winding Road. Here’s a little video to see what he’s up to, and correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like he’s behind the wheel of an X3. Very interesting.