Featured: Meet The Couple Inspired By Petrolicious To Get A BMW

Meet The Couple Inspired By Petrolicious To Get A BMW

By Damian Nunimaker
October 27, 2015
7 comments

Photography by Lacey Rae and Damian Nunimaker

For most, cars are just a means to get from this house to that grocery store, or from this office to that dinner. Without question, everyone has excitement when they drive their first, but why does that excitement fade so quickly? Cars, for me, have always been so much more important.

Fast forward three decades, and I’ve had more than 100 cars of various types. Everything from a 1978 Camaro, to a 430 horsepower Honda Del Sol, to a Ferrari Testarossa. This past March, my girlfriend and I were searching for the next purchase to add the ever changing stable of machines. As a subscriber to Petrolicious, I found myself really drawn to one particular video: The Family of Fives. I found myself watching that video more than once, because I was really drawn to the E28 5 Series. I showed the video to my girlfriend, a true BMW enthusiast herself, and she agreed we should try to get one.

After about two months searching all the typical outlets, we came upon a car on Ebay. The car had been with a single owner since the mid-’90s. The owner stated his wife had driven the car daily since they’d purchased it. He was the owner of a business that maintained BMWs, so anything the car needed, it got. The car was extremely clean, no rust, and appeared really sound.

The interesting part was, the car was in Seattle, and we were in Atlanta. I said to my girlfriend, “This is a chance to drive the entire Pacific coast. Let’s pick up the car in Seattle, then drive right down the coast to San Diego.”

I think the opportunity to make this trip almost began selling us on the car, more than the car itself—I’d bought many cars sight unseen before, so I wasn’t out of my comfort zone, but let’s be real, this is a 1986 535i with 329,000 miles on it!

This is the adventure we’re granted in America, what’s the risk? Why buy a $5,000 car down the street when you can buy a $3,500 car across the country and make an amazing vacation out of it for the same $5,000?

We flew into Seattle/Tacoma airport, and the owner of the car is waiting not far away. After a quick drive, the speedometer isn’t working, a window isn’t retracting, the tires look much worse in person, etc. The owner states the speedo quit just two days ago, along with the window. I could debate with the guy, but overall the car seems as described, and after all, it is a 1986. Fact is, we’re here, so the hell with it!

Over the next few days, we traveled on some amazing roads and enjoyed the sights that the West coast has to offer. Amazingly, we arrived in Los Angeles, no problem. Slowly, despite its shortcomings, this old 535 was earning our respect.

One of the first things to do once in L.A. was to take in SuperCar Sunday, so that drive to Topanga, from Santa Monica was really exciting. We arrived very early, not wanting to miss the experience. Not long after we arrived, we see a very pristinely kept E28 pull in next to an M5.

I thought, “is it possible this could be the family on the video?” After a few minutes, we recognized Dean Caccavo, and I approached him. Little did he know, his family had so much to do with our being here today, and what a chance encounter. We all talked for some time, they looked over our car, commented on some interesting things we didn’t know. They were just a fantastic family to meet, and it really made the trip that much more awesome! These people know their 5 Series.

In the end, the car never missed a beat on the way home, and thankfully waited another week before the water pump began spewing coolant. No big deal when you’re home in your garage!

Fact is, you only live once. In all, our adventure took us over 6,000 miles. We enjoyed great food, meeting cool people, seeing some of the best driving roads in the country, doing a bucket list route that many insist they’ll do when they “retire” , and we did it all on a fairly small budget. Some spend the same amount on a vacation to Hawaii, and all they have is a T-shirt and a coffee mug—we have a cool car as a souvenir!

Next time you search for that perfect car, try not to look so close to home. It’s trips like these that allow you to take your last breath one day and say, “What a ride!”

Tags BMW/ E28/ German
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PJ Struiving
PJ Struiving

Awesome story. Go figure the chances of meeting the exact same people who inspired you to get the car during the long trip back home in it.

Is it Smaragdgrün, by the way?

Andrew Chow
Andrew Chow

My favourite 5, short of an E28 M5. Great story, and even greater choice of car 🙂

Matthew
Matthew

Back in 2006 prior to having our first child I started to scour the internet and finally found my single owner o3 W8 6spd passat wagon in Martinez, CA., just outside of Oakland. After a few months of negotiating, my wife and I flew out to my in laws in LA, drove up and bought the car, drove back to LA, and then home to Ohio. I’ve made many cross country drives, but coming home in a car you spent months looking for and knowing you are in many ways rolling the dice made it one of my favorite trips… Read more »

Nelson Marsh
Nelson Marsh

This warmed my heart. I actually bought a ’73 Bavaria in my sophomore year of college, and drove the old girl 1,300mi back to ATL (I went to Oglethorpe). If you’re local, I can’t go without recommending my favourite BMW specialist. Jeff Chang at German Autowerks in Chamblee is a savant for these old bimmers. I’ve met a lot of people who chatter on about how good they are, but jeff lets his work do the talking. He has consistently gone above and beyond, and has always exceeded my expectations. He’s the guy you want tinkering on your M30.

Stephen Fitzgerald
Stephen Fitzgerald

Great story. Reminds me a lot of when my wife and I dashed to Arizona, bought an ’80s BMW and drove it home the next day. Funny thing: Our odometer broke on the test drive. Apparently old BMWs with broken odometers are more common than functioning ones. Good times!

Riccardo
Riccardo

What a cool story! For years now I’ve had a similar plan in mind, with the added difficulty of me being in the UK… However, the plan would be to buy a car in California/Oregon, spend a month or so crossing your beautiful contry and then ship it from Miami or NY to the UK. Only thing stopping me is too many cars already!

I can’t believe you actually bumped into the very people that inspired your adventure by chance like that, thats just amazing (or destiny). Well done all round!