[V8] Re: 5-car garage NAC

Roger M. Woodbury rmwoodbury at downeast.net
Tue Nov 23 07:45:28 EST 2004

--1600 and 2000 cc front hinged hood tiny tiny car....

Nope.  Not tiny at all.  My wife (at the time) and I bought two 1967 BMW 
1600's.  They were brand new in 1967, and were at the time quite 
revolutionary.  The  1600 came only in a two door version and was a bit 
smaller than a Volvo two door sedan.  Not as tall, but extremely comfortable 
for four adults to travel in.  The added benefit was that they would run 
away and hide on almost anything else on the road that didn't have eight 

BMW had been making these cars for several years or so, and there were other 
variants...an 1800cc and 2000cc four door version that came in several other 
varieties.  BMW wasn't importing their cars at that time. Rather the 
importer was the legendary Max Hoffman, who earlier had been responsible for 
importing Mercedes, Porsche and others (It was Max Hoffman who convinced 
Porsche to produce and import the Porsche Speedster).  Anyway, in Europe the 
BMW sedans had some variants, and a few made it here.  There was the BMW 
1800 TI and BMW 2000 Tilux....the same car, the 2000 being MUCH more 
luxurious with leather and other goodies.  Then there was the 1800 TISA, 
which was a wild, prancing, snarling rally car for the road.

Hoffman convinced BMW that bringing in their sedans was a good idea, and the 
1600 was the first major push for BMW automobiles in the US.  It was quite 
revolutionary, with fully independent multi-link rear suspension, and 
remarkably smooth four cylinder overhead cam  engine of 96 horsepower.  The 
trunk lid had what is not, the de rigeur tool box, and the trunk itself was 
very large for a small car.

My wife (at the time) had had a Mustang convertible....TERRIBLE car which I 
hated profoundly.  It was a small six cylinder with four speed, and when the 
fuel tank was eroded by the  elements and the exhaust pipe, I demanded that 
she get rid of it. We went car shopping and lo and behold!  found the BMW 
1600, which I had NOT heard of up until that very moment.  We took a test 
drive and were absolutely hooked:  $2600, as I recall.  The buy of 
automotive history, or so it seemed.

We took that car on our vacation trip through Maine, and when we got back, 
to Massachusetts, I took the car to the dealer for its mandatory first 
service.  While in Foreign Motors (it was in Brighton back then, on 
Commonwealth Avenue...dunno if it is still there, or just in Natick), the 
enthusiastic salesman showed me the "latest 1600"....on the rear, opposite 
the BMW and "1600" nomenclature was the word:  ALPINA. Under the hood was 
the familiar silver valve cover but instead of the black sheetmetal round 
air cleaner, along the side was this oblong gray box in front of two 40dcoe 
Weber carburetors.  I was invited to drive the car.  Late the next week, I 
drove my pristine Austin Healey 3000 MkIII to Foreign Motors, and although I 
couldn't afford to, I traded for what was one of only a dozen or so Alpinas 
ever  imported.

We did a lot of rallying and autocrossing in those days, and I absolutely 
flogged the BMW....but no matter how hard I drove it, it just ran and ran. 
135 horsepower, as I recall....and almost outran a Maine state trooper one 
night on a twisty road not far from where I live now....his big Plymouth 
with 383 cubic inches could catch up on the straights but as soon as things 
got twisty, the Alpina was GONE.  I didn't know he was a statey, just big 
headlights in my mirror...

After I got back from Southeast Asia, I sold the Alpina in favor of 
something more practical....VW beetle, I seem to recall.

But the cars were really wonderful, useful, roomy, comfortable and 
economical to travel in.  Expensive by the pound, though, much like BMWs of 
today.  It was all worth the price of admission, but I would purely love to 
have that Austin Healey today...its would be worth a fortune in the shape 
mine was in in 1967.


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