When I was 15 years old I got into a bit of trouble in boarding school and was suspended for the weekend. As my mother lived 1,000 miles away I was sent, along with my co-conspirator, to his family’s home in Princeton. His older brother was home for the weekend and had arrived with his new BMW 2002. It was the first time I had ever seen this car and I loved it! It was not only an exceptional design, but he had painted it full-on Stars & Stripes in honor of his girlfriend, whose birthday was the 4th of July.
The BMW 2002 was a ground breaking automobile. It had a boxy Euro design (unlike any American built car) and was low to the ground and very quick. This was a new small and sporty class of car introduced by BMW and wildly successful. The interiors were beautifully appointed with Bavarian functionality in leather, steel, and bit of walnut in the dash. The first engines were 1,990cc ( 116 cubic inches – tiny!) but kicked out 101 hp and a top speed of 115mph. The body design featured crisp cool lines and the slanted nose and rear gave the car a look of motion while standing still. Topping it all off with some fun, very un-Bavarian like, the cars were offered in colors such as Orange, Kelly Green, and Neon Yellow.
Every time I come across one of these 2002’s I stop and have a look and think about that weekend in Princeton. Coincidentally I saw the very Stars & Stripes car owned by my friends brother offered for sale some years ago in the back of Road & Track magazine. I wish I had bought it.