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25 years spent together in unison. It’s a fair while really. Certainly enough to create a strong-rooted relationship based on trust and tons of mutual experiences.

I was only 15 years old when my best mate took over his grandmothers beautiful low-mileage Morris 1000 Super. Already at this age, I was quite the car enthusiast with a real appreciation for classics, so I was naturally rather jealous. In Denmark we’re not legal to drive until we’re 18 years of age, but I couldn’t see why that should stop me from experiencing the joy of car ownership. In October 1992 – having only just turned 16 – a deal was struck with an old friend of my fathers, Peter Christensen, who was Head Mechanic at the BMW & Honda dealership which my father used to co-own. Peter’s old Verona red 1973 BMW 2002 – while still MOT’ed – was starting to look rather tired, yet still had good bones. We agreed that with a lot of Peter’s help and a corner of the BMW workshop in which he still worked, we would bring the 02 back to its former glory, and I would be her next – and fourth – custodian. As all of this was done on a handshake, no paperwork exists to precisely establish the exact day where I became an 02-owner. Regardless, just short of 2 years after that handshake, my little 02 was finally ready just as I turned 18 and passed my driving test.

One of my very first paper pictures of my ‘NullZwei’ taken in September 1994 just as the body restoration had been completed.

Shortly after, I swapped the period Cosmic alloys for a set of optional 5″ tii steel wheels – a look I stuck with for many years.

I was naturally over the moon with joy, and drove my little red BMW everywhere. I truly loved the car, but in all honesty, at the time I had no plans of keeping her forever. I doubt I even understood the concept of a “keeper”. After a while I seriously considered swapping her (with cash on top of course) for a very cool orange VW-Porsche 914. I didn’t quite manage to get the extra cash together. Shortly after I was terribly tempted by a very rare factory BMW 2002 Turbo, but it was not in near as good condition as my stock 2002, so I walked away. Yup, still kicking myself for that one! As it is, I just never got around to selling my “NullZwei”, so instead I continued to drive her and enjoy her…

In 2007 my BMW 2002 even made the cover story in MotorClassic – Denmarks biggest classic car magazine – in a comparison with another icon of a sports saloon from ’73 – a charming Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Super.

I found that a wheel swap was an easy way to visually change the whole character of a car, so after 12 years on the steel wheels, they were swapped for a set of period and factory-optional F.P.S. alloys.

Blasting around the epic Nordschleife during Touristenfahrt while visiting the Oldtimer Grand Prix in 2009.

Plenty of other cars came and went – especially as I just couldn’t get myself to drive “NullZwei” on the heavily salted Danish winter roads. But from early spring through to late autumn every year, we would be out and about having our fun attending classic car meets and drives throughout Denmark and Sweden. During the summer of ’99 the Goodyear Classic in Denmark became our first taste of classic tourist rallying with tulip roadbooks. More tourist rallies followed, and come the early noughts I even started trackdaying my 2002 in stock form on Sturup Raceway in south Sweden and on Padborg Park in Denmark. During one of our visits to the Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, we even ventured onto the famous 20.8 km Nordschleife for a full four laps at max attack – after all, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly. Eventually I got so serious about my trackdays that another 02 had to take over the duties in an attempt to spare “NullZwei” just a little bit.

Posing outside Neues Schloss Schleissheim in Münich while participating in the Bavaria Tour 2011.

Twenty years into 02-ownership, I had to try these rare Italian produced L.O.W. alloys on “NullZwei”, but found them a bit too aggressively designed to suit the rest of the car, so they only lasted one summer season.

While we eased off the trackdays, I instead started venturing further abroad in my 02, as I found the true joy of proper roadtrips. In the (for 02-enthusiasts at least) magical year of 2002, I participated in the first Bavaria Tour held in Oberammergau in southern Germany, with approximately 200 classic BMW’s taking part in the celebrations. The following year, we departed Denmark to spend the summer of 2003 touring the UK, making my way up the length of the west coast, well into Scotland, and then back down the east coast. The following three Bavaria Tour’s of 2006, 2011 and 2016 respectively celebrating the 40th, 45th and latest the 50th anniversary of the 02-series also saw my “NullZwei” participating in the festive meet in south Bavaria, with stunning drives into the Austrian and Swiss Alps, where 02’s were originally developed by BMW engineers and test drivers.

For the past four years these period Kronprinz alloys have adorned my “NullZwei”, which I have found suits it really well. Yet I wonder what will be next…

In August 2015 my “NullZwei” rolled over for the third time – two of which were in my ownership. It’s these little moments which cement the relationship.

These past 25 years of ownership has taken my beloved BMW 2002 through 11 different countries while we’ve covered about 125,000 enthusiast kilometres together. We’ve attended more classic car meets and events than I care to count, participated in tourist rallies, trackdays and even all four Bavaria Tours. Earlier this year we also took part in our first Drive-it Day here in the UK, which you can read more about here. It’s been 25 years of fabulous driving experiences, but of even more importance, “NullZwei” has so often been the instigator for meeting other interesting enthusiasts and often establishing new friendships.

A life without my “NullZwei” is today utterly unimaginable to me. I wonder what the next 25 years will bring…

Parked up at Roskilde Fjord in Denmark one late summer evening in 2014.

Recently we’ve been enjoying plenty of runs in the beautiful and dramatic Peak District.

Do you too own a keeper? If so, please share your story with us. I’m sure there will be plenty out there who can comfortably beat my 25 years.

15 Responses

  1. SteenMP

    Congrats, Anders!

    A genuinely lovely car, that 02. I’ve driven and co-driven it on numerous occasions including two of the Bavaria Tours that Anders mention – and years on I’m still counting those tours among the best classic car experiences I’ve had.

    “Keeper” is a word I’m reluctant to use. Just like the phrase “never gonna happen” it will probably end up biting you in the a…! You never know what the future brings.

    But, were I too say “keeper” it would be my 635CSi. In comparison with Anders’ long-term ownership, 10 years and 30k kilometers is not that much. It has taken me to and around the (Nurburg-)Ring on numerous occasions as well as around all of Denmark and some of Sweden, latest being a beautiful 1200km tour round Vättern, and the south of Sweden. I’m still longing to take it to the Alps, though. Maybe next year …ish. The 6er has evolved and been somewhat personalized, however sticking to original or semi-original period equipment “add-ons”. It has unfortunately also rusted a bit, and at some point I will have to restore it. At the same time I’ve changed too, going from top cop in the “original polizei” and spit-and-polish-trying-to-reach-concours to drive-it-and-appreciate-the-patina. We get wrinkles and scars too.

    I think and hope I will own and enjoy the 6er for many more years to come. The longer you own a car, the more it becomes a part of your dna. You know every squeak, rattle, scratch and sweetspot. Still, as said, I’m reluctant to say “keeper” – I don’t want to jinx it.
    Happy motoring, Steen

    Reply
  2. Scott C Aaron

    Great stuff! The events you’ve done sound awesome. You’re definitely getting a lot of enjoyment from that car. I’ve had my 2002tii since 1987, so 30 years. I bought it when I was 19 or 20, I guess. It’s been to the Vintage in North Carolina, USA three times. I have also tried a set of wheels that I didn’t like as much as I thought I would…I thought it was funny you’ve had the same experience. Good luck on the next 25 years!

    Reply
  3. Claus Ebberfeld

    Anders, you and the ’02 make me look like such a beginner!

    However this exact car (and its owner…) are also directly responsible for my own quest to widen my automoblic horizon: In 2009 I sold my old 1969 Triumph 2.5PI to the writer, and he arrived to collect it driving the 2002. We agreed that it could take the place of the Triumph in my garage until Anders could collect it a few weeks later. During those weeks it just stood there while I was taking all its little details in.

    Now before this I was almost solely into British cars, but the little ’02 grew on me. And upon picking it up Anders treated me to a very thorough test drive which really convinced me: I’d have to have one of those. And a few months later Anders accompanied me to Sweden to advise me on a 1974 2002 Touring. All was well, I bought it and Anders actually drove the car home to Denmark. We stopped by to pick up some suitable original optional 13″ “Bottletop”-alloys as well, but I think we all have figured out by now that Anders has something going on with alloys.

    My 2002 Touring was such a learning experience for me: Different from everything British I knew and I really felt I learned a lot about car design philosophy from owning it. The whole thing was so exhilarating that I have not really looked back since: I sold the BMW but only to try something completely different again and since the Touring I have had at least 15 different classics cars and youngtimers coming and going.

    So because of Anders and the above 2002 I am now a much wiser man. On the topic of classic cars, at least! Quite something the two of them have on their conscience…

    However I do know the feeling of owning a keeper and am not afraid to use the word: In 2014 I acquired a 1978 Reliant Scimitar GTE and absolutely love it. A brilliant allrounder it could really hold its own in my garage and if I had to keep only one car this would be it. I can’t see why I should ever part with it so will look forward to our first 25 years together.

    Reply
  4. Anders Bilidt

    Thx Gents for your comments!

    Steen, it’s been a pleasure to share those experiences with you mate. I hope – and I’m sure – that there will be many more to come in the future.
    Love the way you relationship with your 635CSi has evolved with time. That’s half the fun with owning a proper keeper. Make sure to give me a heads-up before you head for the Alps in it, as I need to join you – either in the passenger seat of your cool 6-series, or perhaps in my NullZwei…

    Scott, amusing how we’ve had fairly similar experiences with our 02’s. Though you outdraw me with 30 years of ownership…! ;-)
    Wish I could visit The Vintage one day – even though I’d most likely have to accept rocking up sans 02. Just seen so many pics from the meet, and it looks great.

    Claus, NullZwei and I sure have a lot to answer for! It’s quite the rollercoaster ride we layed out for you, but you do seem to have enjoyed it. Love your Scimitar btw – but then you know that. I’m not sure a Scimitar would ever be a keeper for me, but just like you have broadened your classic car horizons these past 8 years, I can easily see a Scimitar doing the same for me – just like your old 2.5PI did.

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  5. matt schwartz

    Beautiful story! Love the record keeping. This year is the 10 year for me and my 02 :) hopefully it’s as nice as yours by 25!

    Reply
  6. Dave Leadbetter

    It’s enough to bring a tear to a glass eye isn’t it.

    Coming up to 5 years with my 02. I’m just a beginner but that’s long ownership by my standards.

    Reply
  7. Anders Bilidt

    Matt and Dave, these little 02’s tend to really get under your skin – as you’ve clearly both already noticed. I’m sure you’ll both continue to have just as many great experiences with your 02’s as I have had with mine…

    Reply
  8. OriginalOwner

    FANTASTIC !! Keep driving, you’ve discovered how to truly enjoy the driving experience: in a car that is fun to drive.

    Reply
  9. Paul Hill

    What is it about old cars and BMW’s for me in particular that keep us transfixed to long term ownership? I have a finger to point at my father who was to blame. He was an avid Alfa Romeo driver/collector and even rally’d an Alfasud, In fact I cannot remember a time as a child there wasn’t a ‘project in progress’ in the long grass in the garden. We still have a low miles Sud but that’s another story. My own children have grown up with my funny old cars. I wonder if the bug will bite any of my four girls. It’s hard sometimes to keep an Anders level of enthusiasm when life gets in the way of your hobby/passion and sometimes I do fall out of love but for me an early morning drive on a dry day along the Suffolk lanes immediately re kindles the on going love affair. Please raise a glass..to another 25 years.

    Reply
  10. Anders Bilidt

    Thanks once again Gents for sharing your enthusiasm!
    Paul is of course right – sometimes life does get in the way. I’m sure we’ve all experienced periods where it was difficult to find the time or even the passion to keep enjoying our classics. But equally, pushing through to prioritise that playtime with your classic is usually the perfect solution, as it immediately reignites the spark.
    The last 25 years of classic car ownership have certainly been pure bliss – I’m sure the next 25 will be ever bit as fulfilling…

    Reply
  11. Andrew John Salisbury

    Congratulations pal. God knows if I’ll be able to get anywhere near that milestone; I’ll be bloody old !!

    Reply
  12. Cris

    The 1600-2 is also family owned for 25 years this year … my dad bought it when it turned 25, back when I was 14 – so it spent half of its life under our custody, with no plans of getting rid of it yet. it has 86000 careful km. from new, so we haven’t enjoyed it as much as you have your 02, but it’s still unrestored after 50 years!

    Reply
  13. Paul Wilson

    Tears in my eyes reading your lovely article, l too have the same relationship with my 02 it’s part of me and has been for the past 24 years – and like you Anders I look forward to the next 24 years ( if I’m lucky) – can’t imagine being without the old girl ?

    Reply
  14. Anders Bilidt

    Thx Gents for all your responses here! It’s great to hear your stories of long-term ownership too. It all just goes to prove how involved and emotionally attached we get in our hobby. Keep at it Gents – I know I will… ;-)

    Reply

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