David E. Davis Jr. penned this tribute to the BMW 2002 in the April 1968 issue of Car and Driver, allowing him to accomplish two key milestones: 1) anointing BMW as the Crown Prince of the nascent Sport Sedan segment and 2) cementing his own reputation as one of the world’s foremost automotive scribes.
Davis masterfully captures the automotive zeitgeist of 1968, with wonderfully wry observations on the mindsets and motivations of various car buying cohorts. And within that context, he deftly positions the BMW 2002 as the epitome of intelligent “stealth status” for driving connoisseurs. The BMW excelled at combining performance, handling, efficiency and function in a nifty, well-priced package: hard to believe, but the 2002 Davis drove listed for $2,850 ($20,810 adjusted). No new BMW available today can be had for anywhere near that low price….
Of course, fifty years on from this article, the automotive world is undergoing a tectonic shift once again. Back then, BMW was a pioneer in reworking the definition of a “prestige” car, with driver engagement, precision engineering and high quality materials coming to be seen as highly desirable for upwardly mobile buyers. Today, the notion of an “Ultimate Driving Machine” is rapidly losing appeal. Who wants to bother with driving, when soulless, autonomous cyborg cars/rolling iPhones are on the horizon? Who even needs rearview mirrors anymore? There are cameras and sensors for that now, so you can hurtle along blithely unaware of your surroundings, supremely confident in the knowledge that utterly infallible software has everything under absolute control…. Human drivers, after all, are soooo 20th Century, along with their dated sport sedans.