Put 2 car guys in a vehicle in pursuit of yet another car, and only good things can come of the adventure!
Such was the case when I mentioned to my friend Bill Hayes that I had purchased another car via eBay, located in Minnesota, and intended to fly up to Minneapolis, take possession of the car, and drive it home back to Austin.
Without provocation, Bill immediately volunteered to come along as co-driver, co-navigator, and co-conspirator. This wouldn’t be the first time the two of us had completed a quick car-chase trip together. Bill had accompanied me earlier this past spring on a marathon drive to Georgia, to collect a beautiful vintage Honda 6 cylinder CBX motorcycle and bring it home. (Click the image below for more on that fabulous CBX)
On this trip, the pursued vehicle in question was a BMW 540iT wagon. But, let’s regress a bit: back in 2001, my wife and I spent 6 weeks in Europe, where we accepted delivery of a brand new 540iT wagon at the factory in Munich, and then drove it around Europe for the duration (Germany, France, and Italy). Over the years, we’ve grown to love that wagon, and it has transported us flawlessly on many adventures.
Although the car still looks and performs like new, it is decidedly becoming somewhat long in the tooth. As the car approaches some 200,000 miles on the clock, we’ve had numerous conversations about what we would replace it with when it becomes time to retire the old gal to that final Bimmer resting place in the sky. Our conclusion? No new car we can think of would be an improvement over our existing wagon. And sadly, BMW doesn’t even make a 5-series wagon of any kind anymore. These days, if you want a BMW that carries anything in the rear, you are relegated to driving a truck!
After considering the dearth of new-car replacement choices, we elected to just find another, lower-mileage, identical BMW E39 540iT Touring. And just a few weeks ago, after searching eBay for well over 2 years, the perfect companion appeared: a 2003 540iT with less than 80k total miles, and in near perfect condition.
Thus it was that on a recent Tuesday morning, two sleepy car guys boarded an Austin flight bound for Minneapolis. The day’s schedule proceeded as planned: weather was beautiful, the seller of the car met us at the airport with car and paperwork in hand, and by noon we were on the road heading south toward Austin.
I digress here to mention that my friend Bill did have an ulterior motive for accompanying me on the trip: he had been dreaming for some time about acquiring a vintage jaguar XK140 coupe. He had even gone so far as to fly to the East Coast a few months back to inspect one for sale, but upon closer look decided it wasn’t quite the one for him.
Ironically, when I called Bill, he had been in conversation with an exotic car dealer in St. Louis, who just happened to have a beautiful, black over grey hides 1956 drophead coupe on the showroom floor. A quick check on Mapquest revealed we could make the slight detour through St. Louis without major interruption to our schedule. So, we forged ahead from Minneapolis and made landfall in St. Louis the same night as our morning departure from Austin! (amazing how much territory two guys can cover by sharing driving duties).
When two guys are on the road together, there is no fooling around. The goal is to get from point A to point B in an expedient manner. This worked for us by changing drivers at every gas stop, and by the range of conversational subjects (mostly car-related of course) that kept a continuous banter going to keep the driver alert.
Next morning (day 2 of our trip) found us at the classic car dealership in St. Louis early morning to view the XK140. There it sat, all shiny new paint with an interior bedecked in aromatic grey leather. The car seemed to be all it had been advertised to be, and so, of course, the next step was for Bill to take an exploratory drive:
While I held down the fort, Bill and the mechanic disappeared off in the distance, returning a short time later with Bill at the helm, and sporting a big smile as wide as the Mississippi!
I must admire Bill’s patient approach to the purchase. Had it been me, I’d have wanted to seal the deal right then and there, to make sure it didn’t get away. But no, I suspect the accountant in Bill mandated that he mull it over for a few days, and let the salesman stew in his own juices. Ultimately, though, as expected, a few days later, after back in Austin, Bill was on the phone and completed the transaction, thus ending his long search for the perfect Jaguar.
On Thursday, day 3 of our journey, we made it back to Austin safe and sound, the new Bimmer performing flawlessly for the entire trip. But not before making a quick stop over at Jeff’s Resurrections in Taylor, an incredible restoration shop of national renown. While there, a mechanic gave us a first hand tour of a Duesenberg undergoing restoration, including the huge, tanklike disassembled engine, which they say, in supercharged form, generated over 400 horsepower (sadly, I was so awestruck I forgot to snap photos!).
At the end of a satisfying week on the road, my traveling partner and myself arrived home both with new cars for the stable. I have no doubt that my wife and I may be the only couple known to own two near-identical BMW 540iT wagons, but that’s okay. Our daily drivers are now set for the next few years!
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