- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

BMW’s Bavaria model of the early 1970s was a beautiful bargain. It was basically a stylish BMW 2500 sedan into which was shoehorned a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine.

Because it was designed exclusively for the U.S. market, the familiar numeric designation was replaced with the name Bavaria in order to connect the BMW with its German origins. Most importantly was the $5,000 price tag.

The car was so strikingly gorgeous that a Jacqueline Onassis of Park Avenue in New York City bought a dark green one with a tan interior in 1974.

Ten years later a virtually identical car was parked outside J&F; Motors in Arlington. Nick Anderson always took his BMW 2002 to J&F; for servicing and as he drove in that March day he commented on the sleek Bavaria parked outside. The service manager said it could be his if he had the right price. Just hours before, another J&F; customer had left the Bavaria there to be sold on consignment.

Right about that time is when Mr. Anderson’s logical mind was countermanded by his heart. “I’ve got to have that car,” thought Mr. Anderson and he quickly made arrangements to fulfill his desire. Only when the title was being transferred did he realize that he had yet to actually drive the Bavaria.

Despite that oversight, he has never regretted his spontaneous decision.

Like Mrs. Onassis’ Bavaria, Mr. Anderson’s BMW has an automatic transmission. The floor-mounted shift lever reads front to rear: P for Park; R for Reverse; O for Neutral; A for Automatic’ 2 for Second; 1 for First.

Mr. Anderson is the second owner of the Bavaria, which came with 83,000 miles on the odometer. It is equipped with the following optional accessories:

• AM radio.

• Large tool kit.

• Air conditioning.

• Rear-seat headrests.

• Limited slip differential.

• Torsion bar rear stabilizer.

The surprisingly heavy (4,400 pounds) car is supported by 75HR14-inch radial tires on a 106-inch wheelbase. At 16.25 feet long, the car has fuel economy ratings of 18/20 miles per gallon city and 24/26 mpg highway.

“The mileage isn’t sterling,” Mr. Anderson says which is why it comes equipped with a 20.6-gallon gasoline tank.

Prominently located at the center of the dashboard is an electronic seat belt reminder. He was glad he was buckled in when he was rear ended. “I was sick about it,” he says.

Admiringly, he says the car did exactly what it was designed to do — save the passengers. In 1992, the car was repaired and repainted the original Amazonasgrun color with a clear-coat finish.

The Zenith carburetors that originally fed the 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine have been replaced by a pair of Webber carburetors with a manual choke. The engine still produces 170 horsepower and the top speed is still 121 mph despite what the optimistic 140 mph speedometer says.

The 8,000 rpm tachometer has a 6,500 rpm redline, the limits of which he has never challenged.

Four-wheel disc brakes have always been able to rein in any enthusiastic endeavor.

Mr. Anderson, a retired World Bank economist, explains that his BMW Bavaria has always been a second car, at least during the 20 years he has owned it.

“I’ve never driven it more than 400 or 500 miles from home,” he says. When the automatic transmission began slipping at 130,000 miles, he had it rebuilt.

The four big headrests don’t hinder visibility, he says, but he does miss the right side mirror that modern cars have. The nimble car can be turned in a 34.5-foot circle.

Over the years, as this or that minor problem would crop up, Mr. Anderson would rely on his now-deceased mechanical wizard uncle Jim Thrasher in Tacoma, Wash., to diagnose and inevitably solve the problem via the telephone. He still misses his uncle’s counsel.

Mr. Anderson’s BMW Bavaria now has been driven 155,000 miles and is still running strong.

He says that his 30-year-old car is equipped exactly as he would have ordered it with a few possible exceptions. “I would like power windows, a sunroof and a fancy radio,” he acknowledges.

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