We had just passed Classic BMW up on Greenville and Beltline and there was a 2002 sitting in the yard. A very clean, show-room quality, 1976 (square tail-lights) BMW 2002 with plastic (not metal) grill and a rust free trunk.
Phil was in love.
They were asking $6000 for the car, and that's with the after market A/C unit and Alpine stereo system. We debated about it in the car when Phil stated, “I'm a builder, not a buyer.”
With those words, he started the great internet “how much can I soup that thing up” search. There's a lot you can do to a BMW 2002. You can put an M3 engine in it. You can install a roll cage or tube the nose or just about anything. You can toast a mustang. You can leave an RX-7 wondering where you went. They're great little cars.
And it was during this great search that Phil met Sabine. Sabine was a ’68 2002 (round tail-lights, metal grill, not plastic) that a guy in Tulsa, Oklahoma was selling for $600. Phil started swapping e-mails with the guy and one cold, December weekend we drove to Tulsa to buy the car.
The drive from Dallas to Tulsa isn’t much of a drive. I think the one from Dallas to Austin takes longer. And that’s half as long as the drive to Houston. Texas is a big god-damned state. Luckily for Dallas, we’re sort of like the solar system on the ass end on the milky way. Getting out of Texas is never a problem, there’s just nowhere to go.
So we picked up our friend Dave after work and started the drive to Tulsa. I had worked during the week making a special mix tape for the occasion; so we were serenaded by Bjork and Grace Jones with a little Utah Saints and them some Deltones. It was a blast.
And then we hit Oklahoma.
There’s a joke that the only reason Texas doesn’t fall into the Gulf is because Oklahoma sucks. Oklahoma isn’t all that bad. Sure, the state troopers up there are Nazis. Sure, what they call roads, I call a road hazard. Sure, Choctaw Indian Bingo is the extent of culture up there…(Tahlequah being the exception).
What creeped me out more than anything was the fact that we couldn’t find a Denny’s in Tulsa. Now, I know there must be a Denny’s in Tulsa, but none of them were visible from the highway. I can see on the map there are supposedly three next to highway 66 and one off 412, but I’m telling you, there were no visible…oh, you get the point. Anyway, it was 4 in the morning.
We wound up in Broken Arrow and stopped at the Denny’s there. Now we had to find lodging for the night. There was a motel across the street from the Denny’s, but someone had posted a sign in lime green paper stating there were no vacancies. There was an identical sign posted on the door of the motel across the highway.
And so on.
And so on.
I guess we had gone to Broken Arrow the same weekend as some kind of convention because there weren’t any vacancies anywhere and everyone was using the same lime green paper to post that fact. It was beginning to look like we were going to be sleeping in the car.
And it was snowing. It doesn’t snow in Dallas often, but it does in Tulsa.
I was so frustrated at this point I pretty much lost it. “Great! That’s just great! How about I just drive around some more until the gates of Hades open up for me? Huh? Like maybe some hell mouth will appear in the road and we can just spend the night there! What a great idea!”
And we turned the corner and saw the neon sign: H E L
“What does that say?”
“Stop here. I bet they’ve got a room.”
They did. But only because it was a pay-by-the-week kind of place. They guy agreed to let us stay the night there because we were coming up on the end of the pay period. So, for $70, including deposit, we got a two bed room for the night.
There were weird stains on the floor. There were burns in the sheets. There was a body sized patch on the wall. Dave said he actually felt dirtier after taking a shower. Phil couldn’t get the heater to work. The only channel that came in clearly was the one in Spanish.
We slept like babies.
Next morning, bright and early, we headed back to Tulsa to take a look at this ’68 BMW 2002. The car was in pretty good condition; Phil test drove it around the block. So, for $600 we got the car, a second drive shaft, a box of parts, a better head, some brake pads—still in the box, another electrical harness, and three or four ratchets.
And after installing a new battery and windshield wiper blades, Phil drove the car back to Dallas. Dave and Phil rode in the new car. I didn’t envy them. I stayed in the wagon--in the nice heated wagon--and listened to my tapes. The 2002 didn’t have a working heater or radio.
About a year later, Phil decided to strip the paint off Sabine. We used some pretty noxious chemicals and let me tell you, it’s about as fun as watching paint boil. The really fun part came when we had to scrape some parts clean.
“Your car used to be blue.”
“I’m sorry; it was yellow.”
“Dude, your car is getting smaller.”
$600 will buy you a car. A car that’s 20% fiber-mat and bondo. A car with a serious rust problems around the bottom runner and in the trunk around the shock towers. Phil and Dave had already welded a support beam in the trunk to keep the shock towers from popping through, but Phil had also lost some ratchet sockets through the hole in the trunk on the highway….so….
I will say, the car was quick. Case in point, we had to move the car from our apartment in North Dallas to Garland and Phil didn’t want to tow it. Unfortunately, the car still had Oklahoma plates and out-of-date stickers. Phil said he could move it during rush-hour when it would be “impossible” for a cop to pull him over.
Except there was this white Acura he had to race on the way.
A BMW 2002 is a peppy beast, no matter how old. And A BMW 2002 that someone’s been working on for the last two months while getting advice from the Volkswagen guys down at Knight’s Automotive (some of those parts fit) is a rad-nasty mean beast. It’s also a very hard car to identify unless you know what it is. And when someone has been working on it and part of that working is taking off all the badges so that he can “polish and repaint” them, well…
So, there’s this white Acura that Phil meets at the stop-light and they start revving their engine, so he revs his engine and they tear down Buckingham Avenue at god-knows what speed.
They do it again at the next light and this time Phil’s tail end gets squirrelly and smokes and the Acura’s front-end does the same thing, and they’re off again at blinding speed.
And now the guys in the Acura are entranced and want to know what the hell that ugly green thing that moves so quickly is. Phil motions to pull over in the car-wash next to the Dairy Queen.
And Richardson PD, who has been trying to catch them since Plano Road and who has been trying to weave through traffic to get to them, pulls in right after them. Along with the two Garland PD he picked up on the way.
Discretion being the better part of valor, Phil runs away and looses the cops in the back-streets. The cops weren’t able to put out an APB on the car anyway—they didn’t know what it was.
After we moved out of Garland, we moved the car out to a storage unit out there where Phil could work on it. A block from the storage facility there was a car-wash and in front of the car-wash was a beautiful red 1971 (round tail-lights) BMW 2002 with a (drum roll) PERFECT BODY. Only its engine had seized so it was inoperable. We prayed to the gods of transportation and general coolness and the next day the red 2002 in front of the car-wash had a sign on its window: $$$ PARTS
They sold us the whole thing for $400.
A month later, Phil and some friends moved the engine and transmission from the ’68 (Sabine) into the body of the ’71 (Sabine’s new red dress). I remember Phil and Gavin got in a fight about how to move the engine. Gavin is an RX-7 fanatic and knows little about BMW's. Phil is a BMW fanatic and had been reading about how to do it for months. "We're not taking the tranny off. I don't want to have to re-align it."
"That's no problem, bro. I can do that."
"Yeah, and what are you going to do about the guibo?"
"The guibo. You know you have to mark those and the flanges or else you'll spend a week readjusting them."
At this point Gavin looked to me for support. "What the hell is a guibo?"
I shrugged. "I dunno. I thought he was making it up." (It turns out that a Guibo (capitalized) is a flex coupler on BMW engines.)
I have pictures of the engine swap and will post them eventually.
Oh yeah, you remember that white Acura? Those guys were going back to lunch after work and were bring McDonald’s back for their friends. I know this because Phil met them his first day of work at Software Spectrum. Creepy.
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