There are plenty of reasons to love these old BMW 7-series sedans. However, you might be surprised when I tell you why I’m so fond of this particular car.
I’ve always been a light sleeper, and that’s not a problem that goes away or gets better as you age. There lies the secret of my affection for this old BMW sedan, which I’ve nicknamed “Horst.” His owner was kind enough to park him directly beneath my bedroom, and then left him there to sit for several years, gathering dust. I’ve never been awakened early in the morning or late at night by someone revving his motor or rocking out with his new Earth-shaking subwoofer. No diesel clatter has ever been allowed to disrupt my repose. That sort of thing was never a problem with Horst standing guard.
Horst has been on sentinel duty for quite some time, too. Look at those tabs! The license expired in June of 2006, well before I moved in, back in September 2008. (Yes, I bought a condo at the absolute peak of the real estate bubble. Everyone makes mistakes, you know.) So Horst was here even before I arrived on the scene.
Like most cars here in the Pacific Northwest, this BMW does not have much of a rust problem. Little bits of surface rust here and there are all you can see.
If you can ignore the dust, the front end looks good.
I can imagine Horst regaling the younger cars (such as this naive young Mustang) with tales of the Roaring 80’s. I wonder if this fresh-faced kid from Dearborn has any trouble understanding that thick Bavarian accent!
I suppose my neighbor’s trusty daily-driver Aerostar would get a little tired of Horst from time to time. “Shut up, will ya? You’re not the only car around here with a few miles on the clock! And some of us have to commute in the morning, right Betsy?”
I’m not certain what my car would think about all of this, but I’m sure she’d find the right words.
When I decided to take out the garbage one night just a little over a week ago, I saw a very interesting car parked at the curb. It was a BMW 7-series, and it looked just like Horst. The color was the same, and it even had the same case of terminal headliner droop. And then, I looked at the license plate. It was Horst! Being who I am, I naturally ran back inside and grabbed my best camera. But since it was already after dark, I didn’t have much success with taking pictures.
When I came home from work the next day, I was able to get some better shots before daylight faded away. Looking good! Seeing ol’ Horst this way made me cautiously optimistic about his fate. After all, who would dust off and wash car that was headed for the junkyard?
But I looked at the way the car was parked, and I had to wonder if Horst had made it into that spot under his own power. After all, he was sitting with the driver’s door very close to the curb. And besides, wouldn’t I have heard or seen somebody doing all the work necessary to bring that old big six back to life?
I managed to get a good shot of that luxurious interior. Putting the camera right up against the glass on the passenger side works beautifully.
I’ve always just assumed that this car belonged to someone who no longer lived here, who merely left it behind. But then on Saturday, I saw one of my neighbors who was in the process of packing up and moving out. He and I were nodding acquaintances, friendly enough with each other, but we always had trouble remembering each other’s names. Though he was obviously busy, I had to ask, “Is that your BMW out there?”
With a smile, he told me that it was. To my amazement, he added, “just took it for a spin.” For the first time in over seven years, he might have added! All that time, I thought Horst had been sidelined with some sort of major engine failure, but that wasn’t the case. No, he just sort of got forgotten. The owner told me that his main concern was actually the condition of the interior, which looked okay to me, except for that headliner and a bit of clutter.
He mentioned the possibility of selling the Bimmer, in a tone of voice that seemed to say, “Who am I trying to kid? I’m keeping this thing.” I quickly said goodbye and let him get back to taking the legs off of his dining room table. In my haste, I forgot to ask what year the car was. And who can tell with a BMW? To my unschooled American eyes, it could have been anything from a 1977 to a 1982. Exterior changes on these cars proceeded at a glacial pace, and why not? If you ask me, the car’s designer Paul Bracq got it right the first time, and perfection need not be messed with.
Well, it’s been a few days, and that BMW is still parked in that same spot. I’m not sure when Joe (yeah, Joe) plans to come and get it.
One thing that I’ve notice over the years is that if I have a song stuck in my head, there’s usually a good reason for it. Whenever I walk past that car, I hear Sarah Vaughan singing that old chestnut, “Make Yourself Comfortable.”
“Take off your shoesies, dear,
And loosen up your tie.
I’ve got some records here.
Let’s try one on for size.
I’ll turn the lights low
While you make yourself comfortable, baby…”
It’s a siren song! That BMW, with that beautiful shape, that SOHC straight six and those lovely, inviting seats… Oh, those seats! It’s trying to seduce me. All these years, I’ve had the wrong idea about this car. It ain’t no boy, and its name ain’t “Horst.” And when it comes to cars, I’m a happily married man. My 1992 Geo Prizm might not be exciting, but she’s really all that a man needs from a car! I won’t allow myself to be swayed by this Bavarian temptress, this St. Pauli Girl of a car.
“You know you want me, Mike… How do you know he wasn’t serious about selling me? Go ahead, leave him a note, tuck it under my windshield wiper… go ahead, baby…”
This car has been good to me all these years, but… really, it’s time to let go. Sleeping Bimmer, I’m not your handsome prince!
Well, I thought that was then end of my story, but then I ran into Joe (yeah, Joe) one more time. He advised me that the car was a 1980, with about 170,000 miles on it. He then started it up, and opened the hood.
I managed to take a couple of quick snapshots with my cell phone camera. It was running pretty smooth! The exhaust was a bit loud, but not all that bad. He then unlocked the passenger side door and let me try out the seats. The door handle and the door itself had such a solid feel to them; it’s really true what they say about these old German cars. The doors remind you of a bank vault.
At this point in the proceedings, Sarah Vaughan was practically screaming at me… And then Joe advised me that he’d found a buyer for the car, but it looked like the deal might fall through. Was I interested?
Well, of course I was. But every now and then, I do have a flash of wisdom. I’ve only got one parking spot in that garage, and I’m not parking Mom’s old Geo Prizm outside! And I wouldn’t park an old classic like this 7-series outside, either; especially since that sunroof would probably leak a bit by now.
I repeat: Sleeping Bimmer, I’m not your handsome prince!