I Drove a BMW 2002 and Found God
Today is the kind of day I moved to California for. Virgin blue skies overhead, a salty hint of the ocean pervades a full mile inland, and the fresh sunlight clashes against the chrome of my newly acquired vintage BMW. I’m enjoying this stereotypically beautiful day carving through mountain roads in my 1970 BMW 2002, and I want this moment to continue forever. As an offering to the sun gods, I blip the throttle and invoke all the spits and snarls of Vesuvius as I bear down on a blind mountain corner at a truly laughable rate.
Some people believe that I have an addiction to this kind of speed—an insatiable defect that propels me to push a machine’s limits. Truth be told, I do enjoy speed and its ensuing rush, but is not the velocity itself that I desire. It is silence.
I have the kind of brain that never stops churning. My mind is constantly grappling with about three completely disparate thoughts all clamoring for a solution. Silencing this Greek chorus within my skull is the only way I find mental peace. Some pray or meditate to achieve this effect, many other people smoke drugs or drink alcohol. Myself, I choose burning hydrocarbons at a rapid pace on an alter of asphalt.
Together the 2002 and I climb and crest the undulating black snake of tarmac and defy the reaching weeds and brush. Pushing and pushing, I seek all this ancient BMW has to offer. Either I am going to win, or inertia is. The California mountain roads like Mulholland and Topanga are famous for a reason; these roads are flat and smooth, the scenery breathtaking, and the local constabulary noticeable by their absence. Taking a vintage steed like this into the California canyons is one of life’s great pleasures. Here is where I become one with my machine; here is where we truly get to know each other—biblically speaking.
These old BMWs are more a visceral kind of machine. Unlike modern cars, the fight has not yet gone out of them. They participate and give, not just comply. They engage you in a two-way conversation of pedal inputs and vibrating steering. Like any vintage cars, running an ancient 2002 is like having a passionate but ultimately self-destructive lover. You may spend the rest of your life with a stable Corolla, but you will never forget that summer you spent with the exotic German exchange student. And selfish lover that I am, it is the curves that I am most interested in exploring.
Racing along in this vehicle that needs me as much as I need it, I feel those ancillary thoughts slink away into their dark corners. My mind stops trying to solve a quadratic equation and rethinking my lunch choice at the same time. It ceases nagging me over my poor financial decisions and non-existent social life. Slowly but surely these hectic thoughts fade away from three, to two, until inexorably I’m left with: Just. This. Moment. And now I’ve found it. For these minutes and miles I am nowhere but right here, blissful. Hurtling this collection of metal and glass at foolish speeds along an unsuitably narrow road, I have found God.
Stabbing vengefully at the throttle now, I’m hell-bent on taming this canyon road. Elevation changes come with every curve, and every signpost tells me I’m leaving LA more and more behind. This little BMW is a righteous steed, and it is propelling me away from civilization with extreme prejudice. My new silver 2002 has done its job, taking me both physically and mentally away from my worries. It is only right that I repay it by being a pilot worthy of her talents. My German sweetheart and I, we’re going to go as far as the mountain roads will take us.