A couple of months ago, Jalopnik posted an article titled “Read The Car Review That Every Autojourno Has Tried To Copy.” We’ve only recently caught up with this piece, but imagine our pleasant surprised when we find the review in question is David E. Davis, jr.’s 1968 review of the BMW 2002. As Jalopnik’s editor notes, this particular review originally appeared in the April 1968 edition of Car and Driver, and it is considered to be one of the first modern car reviews.
When you read it, you’ll probably recognize the playful tone and springy prose that many automotive journalists aspire to now, but given context, you’ll know this is the original. You’ll know that before this, no one really wrote about cars in this way. This is the In Cold Blood of car reviews.
We’ll give you just a few highlights, but after that you have to go read the whole thing yourself. For any who don’t know, the 2002 was part of the BMW New Class, which was produced from 1962 until 1977. The 02 series was a two-door variant that we might call a distant ancestor of the present 2 Series. This was the car that really put BMW on the map and established it as a sports sedan brand.
For his part, the 2002 caught Davis’s attention in a way that made him throw countless amounts of shade at anyone foolish enough to pass up this car in favor of certain ideals. You can see this in the opening stanzas of his review where he dismantles several caricatures and their alternative choices.
Down at the club, Piggy Tremalion and Bucko Penoyer and all their twit friends buy shrieking little 2-seaters with rag tops and skinny wire wheels, unaware that somewhere, someday, some guy in a BMW 2002 is going to blow them off so bad that they’ll henceforth leave every stoplight in second gear and never drive on a winding road again as long as they live.
In the suburbs, Biff Everykid and Kevin Acne and Marvin Sweatsock will press their fathers to buy HO Firebirds with tachometers mounted out near the horizon somewhere and enough power to light the city of Seattle, totally indifferent to the fact that they could fit more friends into a BMW in greater comfort and stop better and go around corners better and get about 29 times better gas mileage.
Mr. and Mrs. America will paste a “Support Your Local Police” sticker on the back bumper of their new T-Bird and run Old Glory up the radio antenna and never know that for about 2500 bucks less they could have gotten a car with more leg room, more head room, more luggage space, good brakes, decent tires, independent rear suspension, a glove box finished like the inside of an expensive overcoat and an ashtray that slides out like it was on the end of a butler’s arm—not to mention a lot of other good stuff they didn’t even know they could get on an automobile, like doors that fit and seats that don’t make you tired when you sit in them.
So far as I’m concerned, to hell with all of ’em. If they’re content to remain in the automotive dark, let them.
This review really is wildly entertaining to read, not only for Davis’s brutal wit but also for the many parallels we can draw between this classic car and the BMWs we drive today. You can read Car and Driver’s full review of the 1968 BMW 2002 by following this link.