BMW 1600 and 2002

It was the late sixties when I first heard about one.  Something that could only happen on a place like Cape Cod in the summer.  The Cape, with its curvy and undulating roads was perfect for it to make a debut. 

I first heard from some of the guys at the garage.  They talked about getting behind this little German sedan on the West Barnstable Road going out of town and having it pulling away from them like a jet powered snake as they tried to catch up to it in their American made muscle car.  They were astounded that it was not only fast, but that it was oblivious to the curves.


Being an owner and driver of a VW bug at that point I was curious about this other German import.  I knew about Porsche and its close relationship to the Volkswagen, but BMW was something new to me.  Later the guy that drove the 1600 came by the garage and we talked.  It was an unassuming four door sedan for sure.  Under the hood was a four cylinder engine that looked much neater than the small engines I had seen under the bonnets of the English sports cars of the day.

This got me to thinking of how keeping a car light and and engine small, but powerful, had its advantages.  Especially on the kind of roads I was likely to encounter in New England.

A few years later BMWs were a lot more common and I had a chance to drive a friend’s 2002.  The 1600 had been a great car, but when BMW grew it to a 2 litre engine and further refined the suspension it became a truly amazing ride. 

Behind the wheel of this Black Forest sedan I was thinking about the best road on which to try it out.  I headed over toward Marstons Mills and route 149.  This was a good choice because it not only had some terrific corners, but there were no side roads, houses, or driveways for quite a long portion.  Sandy was sitting in the middle of the back seat and Ed was in the passenger seat.  I turned onto 149 from Race Lane and let the car fly.

Every once in a while, when the timing is just right, I would be able to drive on a road very fast – but from my own inner vantage point everything was just calm and slow.  It was as if I had found a rhythm that matched both the car and the road I was on.  I knew I was going fast, but there was never a feeling that I was catching up with the road.  It was all just a beautiful dance.

And then it was over.  I had reached the end of that section and had the stop sign to obey. 

I was very impressed with the 2002 and how it allowed me to be one with that road.  Sandy and Ed seemed very relaxed at the time, but I would hear later just how amazed they were at how fast we got down that road.  They probably thought I was an amazing driver, too.  Maybe I was that day, but I had an amazing car to get me there.

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4 Responses to BMW 1600 and 2002

  1. Howard says:

    Jim, I love your stories, especially when I can put faces to the names. I think the reason your passengers are relaxed when you drive on those roads that I know so well is a credit to your driving ability. Or it could be that they are suffering from the g-forces and can not speak. Howard

  2. Esteban says:

    Pure poetry….

    Of course I’m talking about the BMW…

    Seriously, though, you know I’m a fan and can’t be very objective, but I can quite your feeling. I have driven a BMW 325i, an M3 and a 1 Series (diesel, BTW), although I’m probably not as good as you are driving, and I surely didn’t let any flying happen (the cars belonged to my uncle, eldest and middle brother respectively) I always enjoyed 2 things:

    The grip. Those things are glued to the road.
    The engine’s sound. I can hear a BMW amidst a traffic jam…

    Very nice story, I almost felt I was riding there with you. Thanks for this.

  3. Jim,

    Long time reader, first time poster. I just came across this post and wanted to turn you onto my retro-modern recreation of the 2002. The details can be found on my blog, as well as my wiki:

  4. jimsgarage says:

    John –

    Thank you very much for the link and the information. The 2002 was a BMW classic. I’ll check on your progress over time.


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