I used to see this dark blue BMW 2002 driving around downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, on a regular basis. I don’t think it was enthusiast-owned; I would see it at the bank, at the grocery store, and in the University of Utah parking lot. This was a little bit over 10 years ago, and the Bimmer was simply someone’s cheap mode of transportation.
In early 2006, the car showed up on the side of a repair shop which used to be located on State Street, across from a bar named The Bayou. If you’re familiar with the area, it’s where the apartment buildings are today. It stayed there without moving for at least a couple of weeks. I drove by it almost every day on my way to work, and one morning I noticed someone had written “for sale” in big blue letters on the back window. I immediately stopped and inquired about the car; I had been keeping a close eye on it since it arrived at the shop.
If memory serves, the 2002 was a somewhat tired old car but there was nothing seriously wrong with it. The four-cylinder started right up and ran strong, the manual transmission was crisp to shift, and it was a real delight to drive. It had never been restored but it had clearly been well maintained. The paint was a 10-footer, and the body was showing signs of rust that needed to be addressed sooner rather than later.
The asking price was $2,000 or best offer, which was about what you’d expect to pay for a rough-ish one of these a decade ago. I decided to buy it, but my 1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde told me “there’s no way in hell I’m sharing garage space with a BMW.” The ABS system failed on my way back from test-driving the BMW, and on those cars that’s anything but quick and simple to fix. The Milano immediately went from daily driver to project car status, and buying a BMW suddenly made very little sense.
The car sold about two weeks later, and I never saw it again. I’m not sure if it left the area or if someone who needed parts hacked it up.