Rogan Jenkin, who manufactures furniture for a number of South African designers, has a collection of vintage BMWs. His latest addition is a burgundy BMW 2002 from 1971. Jenkin chatted to us about his treasured beauties.
“When I was about 11 years old, my friend’s dad picked me up from soccer practice in a lime green BMW 2002. Ever since then, I’ve loved them.
“Recently, I found myself in a position where I could consider owning one myself. About two years ago, through my next-door neighbour, I heard of a 1602 for sale. Although not original – it had a Toyota Twincam Turbocharged motor in it – it had the shape with the little round lights. And it was driving and working, so I bought it. It was a kind of custard yellow. I resprayed it a more traditional off-white.
“With that first car, the bug bit and I realised how much I really love these cars. When the right ones came up and I was able to get them, I did. Since then I’ve managed to collect a white 1971 BMW 2002tii with round lights, an orange 1973 square light BMW 2002tii and, most recently, I got a burgundy 1971 straight BMW 2002 with a crack-free dash, which is rare.
“It’s quite weird. Although it’s the same car, it looks completely different in different colours. There are different elements of the body that appeal to you when the colour changes. And when you start driving them, they are all different. For example, the orange BMW 2002tii is a softer drive. But the white one, which has stiffer steering and a smaller wooden steering wheel, feels like it’s on rails.
“Because I have a furniture manufacturing workshop, we’ve got timber, we’ve got metal and we’ve got powder coating. It’s a restorer’s dream. I’ve closed off one section of the workshop and put two car lifts in. I do all the work myself (except for upholstery), which includes all the panel-beating, all the spraying, everything. I have a few friends who are pretty clued-up mechanics and if I’ve got problems, they’ll just come in on a Saturday and help. The cars never leave my workshop to get fixed.
“At first, it was purely the shape that I loved so much. I didn’t have any other knowledge about the car. But when you start taking these old cars apart, you learn how they work, which is the really fun part. You look at the window systems and you look at the suspension systems and you see how simple and effective the design was. That’s the big appeal. It’s the learning process that I enjoy the most.
“When it comes to the driving experience of these old cars, I almost get goose bumps just talking about it. Without modern technology, you actually feel like you’re driving. The car is responsive, handles beautifully, and is direct. The gear changes are smooth. And they go! Even now, they’re still relatively fast cars.
“But it’s also the details, such as the little fly windows where you can feel the breeze on your knees. And they’ve all got their little intricacies – a little rattle here, a little rattle there – but you know what it is and it’s not a problem.
“Sometimes I go for breakfast runs to Magaliesberg. The best time to drive in Magalies is in the early, early morning when the sun is coming up and you’re just cruising. The windows are open. There’s no radio. It’s the sound of the engine and the bite of the cold, especially now in winter. And when you are driving along with three or four other old BMWs, there’s something about the car and the experience… sort of an unspoken camaraderie. That’s the experience at its best!”