„Auto“ – German for car. According to my mum that was my first word, even before I could say mum or dad. We never figured out where this came from. My parents were – and still are – light years away from being car people. So naturally they were more than skeptical when I laid hands on my car the first time. They shook their heads over my ‘90 BMW 520i when I first rolled up their driveway and asked me why I would buy such a piece of junk when I could afford a new car having a decent income as an engineer now.
The answer is simple: I just love cars. I love cars in general and some in particular.
I was a car guy right from the start. But since every little boy likes cars, I can‘t remember if I was always that motor-crazy as today. When I was a teenager I had different things in mind, for example I discovered my passion for music. Surely, the passion still lasts, but the flame for cars was reignited by the time a new guy joined school. His name was Stefan and he was a total gear-head and got a little but remarkable collection of 50 to 125cc bikes, mostly German 2-stroke and Honda Monkeys.
Though, what impressed me the most was his yellow Mercedes-Benz W123 300D. A car he’d inherited from his grandfather and was a true classic already back in the early 2000s. He also bought a ‘84 BMW M535i when he was just sixteen. He remembered the car from his childhood and always knew that he had to possess this very particular car someday.
This imprinted something on me.
The first car
Since I was not that far away from getting my own license, I started looking for my own vehicle. The BMW M3 E46 just had hit the market two years before and I desired that one so badly. Well, 57,000€ was a bit out of my reach.
The specification for my first car was simple: not more than 3,000€, Rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, and as fast as possible. As you might guess my parents were not impressed when I showed them the adds for a BMW 318is or an Audi 90 quattro with more than 200,000 kms on the odometer. My parents had set a limit for 75hp.
Since I grew up in a very small and rural town, my family was clearly aware of how essential individual transportation was. After test driving a dubious Subaru Legacy (I already lowered my requirements) we compromised and I got a ‘93 Volkswagen Vento GL 1.8i. The first ride was just after Christmas. The dealer and I agreed that I would take the papers and return after new year’s eve with the money and the registration. When my mother and I returned to pick it up, the dealer mentioned an issue with the car: “We went through the documents and figured out the pre-owner had install an upgrade-kit for the engine. 110 instead of the stock 90hp”. “Well, that is not what we wanted”, my mother replied. “We can remove it for free”, the dealer offered. “Nah, I guess we abide”, I interrupted, trying to play it cool.
So I got a well maintained Vento with electric windows and sunroof, fog lights, and two airbags with an Oettinger-upgrade-kit. Camshaft, ECU, exhaust header and a twin pipe muffles that looked sort of ill-fitting on that unadventurous, burgundy 4-door saloon. Later I fitted some 15” BBS from a VW Golf GT MK2 and a shortened Golf MK4. The hottest thing were the self-made aluminum floor mats. I found myself pretty cool back then.
My relationship with that car lasted 1.5 years respectively 30,000kms. Within three weeks the car was involved in two crashes. It wasn’t my fault but the second time was so bad the Vento had to go for good.
I picked up a training as a mechanic for industrial maintenance and got myself a Suzuki Swift GTI. A little tin can with disc brakes all around, a neat 16v engine with 101hp , only 780kgs of weight, and a limiter set to racy 8,000rpm. If necessary, you’ll go as fast as 120 km/h in the 2nd gear. This thing was awesomely entertaining.
In the following years the cars became more reasonable: a diesel-propelled Volkswagen Golf MK4 station wagon and a Mercedes-Benz W124 200E. They brought me safely through the university years. For the sunny days I still had a 250cc bike.
University was where I met Sebastian and after no time it was clear that we had lot in common. Frankly, we are both car guys, but we met because we both decided to study marine engineering instead of something car related. By the way, water became my third passion after cars and music.
Sebastian went through his automotive adolescence with cars like Peugeot 205 GTI, Ford Escort RS2000, and of course Minis. He can be insanely serious with conducting unreasonable modifications. Sebastian understands machines and knows that a lack power can be utterly unsafe.
Now, a few years after graduating we finally took our chance to get some classic project cars. Sebastian is back with a Mini and in the search of some extra horsepowers hidden deep in the guts of the A-series engine.
I went with BMW and besides my daily driver I bought a ‘71 BMW 1800 “Neue Klasse”.
And eventually this is what this blog is about. Witness us how we get and keep our cars running and what else keeps our automotive mind busy.