Mar 22, 2020

BMW 70s icons at one of the most Iconic places in San Francisco: Bengt and Alex’ sheer driving pleasure.

Back in 2018, while I was in San Francisco for the first time, I met Bengt, an Instagram friend who I’ve been following for a long time, and his E9. On this day he drove me to one of the most iconic places in town The Golden Bridge. While we were there doing some photos an amazing green BMW 2002 stopped by, driven by Alex, a friendly Californian owner who immediately agreed to put these two 70s icons together in one shoot. It was an amazing afternoon and made me especially happy that I could bring two people together who follow the same passion and love the same brand.

To share a bit of the history of these two BMWs I asked Bengt and Alex some questions about their cars. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Bengt and his 1974 BMW 3.0 CSi:

Tell me about you.

I’m Norwegian-born living in California, BMW-crazy and spending most of my free time driving my cars around, and working on them.

When did the love for BMW start?

Since an early age, I have always loved German cars, and growing up my family drove BMWs.

What condition was the E9 in when you bought it?

I purchased it from an employer of mine. The car was in somewhat the same condition, I did a full service and cleaned it up with a few modifications here and there.

What’s your favorite detail or what do you love most about your car?

The rear of the E9, the taillight.

Which was the longest trip you ever took with the E9?

The E9 has been up north in California several times, coastal and inland trips.

Are you using the E9 as a daily driver?

The E9 was used as a daily driver for about 1-2 years a few years ago, but the traffic has grown a lot since then, and I am not taking any chances parking it on the streets anymore.

Is there any other BMW or classic you would like to have?

I have always had my eyes on a Euro-spec E28.

Do you have a quote related to cars that you would like to share?

Drive the hell out of it!

Alex and his 1972 BMW 2002 (M42 Swap).

Tell me about you.

I was born and raised in San Diego and as the youngest of 3 brothers, I essentially ended up doing whatever my older siblings did. In Southern California, it’s all about the beaches, so I spent nearly all of my free time surfing, fishing, skating, etc. at the various beaches of San Diego. It was an amazing place to grow up and even though I live in San Francisco now, my parents are still there, so I do go back and visit frequently. Aside from surfing, I also love cars and dirt bikes. If it burns fuel, I’m into it!

How did you first become interested in cars and why especially in BMW?

Like many sons, I developed a love for cars from my father. He grew up in Mexico City witnessing marvelous events such as La Carrera Panamericana and the Baja 1000. He also participated in rally racing and rode BMW motorcycles in the desert with his brothers. This love of machines, and BMWs, he passed on to me. What really got me hooked was this tiny little car shop in my hometown that specialized in BMWs. I must have been about 10 years old the first time I ever saw a BMW 2002 and it was always parked right in front of the shop. Every time I saw it, I thought to myself that one day I would have one. Little did I know that it would be 15 years before that dream would become a reality!

How did you come across the 2002?

My brother and I decided to buy a vintage car together and we settled on looking for BMW 2002s. We found this particular 2002 on eBay after searching for about a year and while we were originally looking for an Inca Orange one, as soon as we saw the car in Golf Yellow, we were sold. It was an auction, so there was a little bit of a bidding war, but in the end, we ended up with the winning bid.

What condition was the car in when you bought it?

We bought the car sight unseen and it was located in the small town of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

We couldn’t get a transporter to go that far out of the way to pick up a vehicle for a reasonable price, so I decided to fly out with a friend and pick up the vehicle in person. We spent some time chatting with the owner and then set off on a 2.000-mile drive clear across the country. The car performed flawlessly until the last leg of the trip.

On the last part of the trip, from San Diego to San Francisco, the car started to run hot and when I finally arrived at my place in San Francisco, the master cylinder gave out causing me to lose all clutch pressure. Luckily, I was already home by then, but I’m not kidding, the master cylinder failed right in front of my apartment building as soon as I arrived. It was as if the car knew that it had completed the journey and it was finally ok to breakdown.

Since then, we’ve sorted out the entire vehicle, so it’s running like a top, but in those first few months, we did a lot of work!

What’s your favorite detail or what do you love most about the 2002?

I love the color, it sounds amazing and it’s incredibly fun to drive. There’s nothing better than getting out of the city early in the morning on a weekend and having all the twisty roads to yourself. The car has an engine and drivetrain swap out of 1991 318is, so it’s pretty sporty and does really well in the tight stuff.

On your Instagram account, I saw many journey photos and surfing with the 2002. Which was the longest trip you ever took with it?

The longest trip I’ve ever taken (besides the first time I ever drove the car) was up to Portland, Oregon via Highway 1 to participate in a motorcycle race. I did about 700 miles in 1 day and then turned around the next day and drove all the way back! Otherwise, I’ve done several rallies where we cover about 1,000 miles in 3 days of driving, but as you noted, I frequently use the vehicle to go surfing all over the Bay Area too. It’s been a wonderful little car!

Are you using the 2002 as a daily car?

I used to drive it to work every day for about 2 years and then I got a job that was in the city, so I don’t drive it as much as I used to, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use the car as my daily driver. I don’t mind putting miles on the car and I don’t mind if the paint gets chipped or if something gets worn out. The car is meant to be driven and I intend to keep it that way!

Tell me about the number plate FUNHOGN?

Ah yes. I can’t claim credit for this catchy little phrase, but I did manage to get the license plates!

The founders of Patagonia did an epic road trip back in the 60s from Ventura down to Patagonia to climb a mountain, surf, ski and explore that part of the world. When they got to the top of the mountain, they pulled out a flag that read “Viva Los Fun Hogs” and the term “Fun Hogging” was born. “Fun Hogging” is essentially taking advantage of all the fun that this world has to offer, usually by way of adventure. When I read the story, the term really resonated with me, so when it was time to register the car in California, I chose to order custom plates. You can only have a maximum of 7 characters, so I went with FUNHOGN!

I’m sure a lot of people will say something about the wheels but I think it looks really cool.

The wheels came with the car and I think they look great if you’re going to go with something that’s not stock, so I haven’t bothered to change them. Everyone does ask if they are real Alpina wheels and unfortunately, they’re not, but that’s alright with me.

Is there any other BMW or classic you would like to have?

So many! In no particular order, I’d like to have the following cars: Land Rover Series IIa, BMW 700, 1973 or older Porsche 911, Toyota FJ60, Mercedes 280SL Pagoda, Fiat Jolly, and many more. As you can see, I have a fairly broad taste in cars, but with the exception of the Toyota, most of the vehicles I like are from the 60s and 70s.

Do you have a quote related to cars that you would like to share?

“To achieve anything, you must be prepared to dabble on the boundary of disaster.”

 

Follow Bengt and his E9 on Instagram: @Bengt.bmw

Follow Alex and his 2002 on Instagram: @pulaylay

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