I’ve always been a proponent towards anything old, and that they actually get driven instead of sitting in a garage except for the occasional car show. For me cars of decades’ past show a certain beauty and quality that the chassis rolling off the assembly line these days seem to lack. Towards the end of last year I had decided that Southern Worthersee 2014 was a must for me and my 1972 BMW 2002. Throughout the duration of the 2013’s Winter months the 2002 remained apart as the snow covered the ground. The drivetrain and suspension were combed through and a list of maintenance items were replaced in order to get it ready to drive the roughly 2000 mile round trip from Missouri to Helen, GA with any shred of confidence.
Things were looking like smooth sailing even though the to-do list started off lengthy until just two days before beginning my journey. Cooling issues plagued me Spring of last year and they were rearing their ugly heads once again. My dad and I stood over the stock M10 in frustration until checking the two newest parts in the cooling system, which turned out to be the guilty parties. Luckily my dad owned a ’69 2002 and fortunately he allowed me to rob a couple parts of his daily driven BMW — a completely original thermostat and sensor. The words “they don’t build them like they used to” kept replaying over in my head due to the frustration of the newly manufactured parts already failing.
With the final issues tackled and a trunk full of various tools and fluids I embarked on the drive to Georgia. The first day of driving was one full of paranoia as I watched the temperature gauge like a hawk, and kept a nose out for any hint of oil or antifreeze. As I made my way with a group from Omaha the smell of burning oil reached my nostrils and a nervous feeling crept through my body. Even though I checked it time after time the original M10 hummed along, hardly ever needing to be topped off whole trip.
The next test that approached after a day of highway driving were the treacherous turns that wound throughout the mountains of Georgia. As we climbed our way up the 2002 performed with out hesitation bringing a smile to my face as I hit each apex, but it was short-lived. Our group started the final descent to Helen when I found myself fighting the front end of the old BMW and working the brakes which started to show their fatigue. I slowed the pace, hoping that things wouldn’t go south, and when we came to our final turn into Helen a sigh of relief rolled from my lungs.Once hitting the city limits I knew I had to take a victory lap around town as I had done what most showed concern for, even myself – I had finally made it to SOWO in a car over four decades old.
I had been ridiculed quite a bit from friends about the car not being low enough, but the attention the car received as I made my way around town was truly a surprise for me. It was a surprise simply because of the fact the car didn’t get too much attention back in my home state since it didn’t have a rumbling V8 under the hood.
The weekend was filled with seeing friends who I had mostly just talked with online, and the chance to see some truly great photographers… including Courtney Cutchen, who found the time to shoot the 2002. It would be the conclusion to a rewarding trip as most were surprised that I came from Missouri in the car, plus I was impressed of how it performed due to issues I had when just traveling a few hours from home.
Southern Worthersee and the journey made to reach Helen brought back the desire to see this build all the way through. It is a car that is proof that you shouldn’t be afraid of tackling a long drive in an older car, so leave that trailer at home and experience a drive that no newer car can give you.
I would like to give a huge thanks my dad for the time spent and knowledge shared on the various cars I’ve owned over the years. The 2002 would have never reached where it is today without him. I’d also like to thank Igor over at CATuned for always helping me get parts I need, and Courtney Cutchen for the beautiful shots. Most importantly my wife, Destany, for putting up with all of the time spent and car talk which I’m sure she loves.
Words by Josh Wilson (@wordsbyjoshwilson)
Photos by Courtney Cutchen (@misscourtneymae)