It took a big life change to get me going on cars; I certainly wasn’t expecting to find myself, one day, trying to drive around some silly looking SUV – just to get a better look at an early 80’s Mercedes. But change is good, cars are great, and now I want a 1973 BMW 2002tii Touring.
My dad has a Jeep Wrangler, in the early to mid 2000’s he decided to rebuild the engine. My brother has a Willy’s, him and my dad built it together.
I had no awesome car, never worked on a car, never showed much interest in it, never got a thrill out of driving (but I do like driving stick). So imagine me, getting excited about a long road trip just for a car show. Well I did, eventually.
My boyfriend, at the time of only 2 months, wanted to take me on a road trip to a car show. It was kinda crazy at the time, being so new in our relationship, to make plans well into the new year for a long trip to another state. But plans were made and we kept telling each other how crazy we were.
Because The Vintage is about vintage BMW’s, we would be driving the e30 convertible down. Gorgeous weather, sunshine, and amazing views the whole way. We started planning our route and realized it would be quite a bit of driving. It might be a good idea if I practiced driving the e30, on the off chance he needed a break for an hour or two. Plus, it had been a long time since I had driven a stick.
Apparently, no one, I mean no one, except my boyfriend had ever gotten to drive his e30. I did not find this out until after we came back from my practice drive. The e30 is his baby, his precious delicate snowflake. You can imagine he was quite tense as I rolled out of the driveway onto the road. He talked me through the specifics of shifting in the BMW, how sensitive it all was, don’t force the gear change, easy on the clutch. I learned a lot in five minutes, even more in the next ten. I learned how much I missed driving stick, how much I loved driving, how much I enjoyed the feel of a German car, and how much fun I had figuring out the technique to make it purr. I was really looking forward to our trip.
Now, the bf had been eyeballing a Strömung exhaust upgrade on the e30, so when a group buy came up on a BMW forum he jumped on it. The exhaust arrived and of course it MUST be installed before the trip to The Vintage. This became my first car project.
That was such a fun project. I’m trying to remember the most fun thing about installing the new exhaust and honestly, it was shimmying under the car and dry fitting the exhaust. That does not sound exciting – but it was, at least for me. While I was under the BMW holding the exhaust in place, the bf was aligning and marking and checking measurements. I enjoyed it. The exhaust was installed about two weeks before our trip. When it came time for the trip, we hit the road, top down and enjoying the gorgeous weather. I made my first rookie convertible mistake and lost my hat; never lean to the side in a convertible. A stop to Walmart later hooked me up with a new one.
We took half of Skyline drive down. I noticed him rev matching while he shifted through turns and asked about it. I had no idea that was a thing. It made sense. Not only was I loving the breeze and views but learning about engine mechanics and more about shifting. We talked about the engine, the clutch, shifting, engine braking, and other things. It felt good.
Riding alongside him talking about cars up in the mountains with views for miles is a great memory for me. I’m sure he has the better one though; driving a great car, talking about cars with a girl who is listening and actually interested (not just in him but in cars too), with the sun shining down and a fantastic view. While I envy him driving, I don’t think he was quite ready to hand over the wheel. Besides, he was enjoying himself, can’t really blame him.
We made our way into Hot Springs late at night after about 10 hours on and off the road. The Vintage started the next day and I couldn’t wait. Seeing rows and rows of beautiful cars, lovingly restored, modified, and maintained was riveting. The paint jobs, the engines, the stories, the people. I saw my favorite. Why is it women always like hard to get things? 1973 BMW 2002tii Touring. Never sold in the US, if you see them in the states it was shipped over. Drool.
I got to paint on the Isetta – an art car to commemorate the Vintage. If you see an Isetta with a red fox on the side of it, thats mine. I spent a lot of time painting it. But it was fun. And it looks good. I met the guys from Garage Riot and downloaded the app! Tried to convince them to offload their giveaways to me, didn’t work. 🙂
Eventually The Vintage came to an end and we began our journey back north. For our return trip, since it was drizzly and dreary, we decided to take the upper half of Skyline drive back home. He pulled over before we entered and asked if I wanted to drive. Hell yeah! Even if only for a bit, I really wanted to.
Let me tell you about that drive. It got dark real fast, the weather was still dreary, and a thick dense fog rolled in. Deer were out and about. Probably one of the scariest drives I’ve ever done. Super high elevation and nearly no visibility 5 feet in front of the e30. Deer popping out like whack-a-moles. At one point I had to stop and calm down, my nerves were too high, I couldn’t see anything, and I was driving my bf’s baby. No way was I going to wreck or ruin his car. Stopping helped a lot. I reset and journeyed on. The weather began to clear and what was that ahead? A tunnel.
Anybody that has an amazing exhaust knows the joy of a tunnel, and if you don’t, I suggest you go get learned. We drove through that tunnel and relished the purr. So much so we turned around drove through it again, recorded it, and drove back for a third time, recording that too. The video doesn’t do the sound justice. I got to drive the e30, with the new exhaust, in a tunnel! Was it amazing? Heck yeah it was!
So that is how it started. Installing the exhaust, hearing the fruit of your labor in a tunnel and getting a rush of excitement from it. Who knew I’d become a car girl?