Many sources use 12,000 miles as the average number of miles the average person drives a car yearly, with a bevy of variables affecting that one way or the other. So if we tell you that BMW CCA Los Angeles Chapter member Andrew McGowan drove his BMW 13,000 miles last year, you might not blink.
But if we told you that the car is a 1968 1600-2, and that most of those miles are more than just long scenic laps around the Los Angeles basin from his Claremont, California, home, eyeballs might understandably widen.
Some of that mileage was commuting, says McGowan. “I racked up the miles by using it daily, but also on several trips to San Francisco and back, as well as on wine-tasting tours in the Santa Ynez Valley,” he says. “It never broke down or complained even once. I drove it earlier this year on the Snowball Rally, completing 2,500 miles in four days. Once again, no breakdowns or hiccups.”
Events like the Snowball Rally (three days on rural roads through the Sierra Nevada mountains near Lake Tahoe), Andrew’s drives to San Francisco, and his round trips to Monterey for the past four years, make us think that the Who’s 1967 should have been, “I Can Drive For Miles And Miles.” That song was released within a year of the first 2002; perhaps more relevant, it was released within a year of this 1600-2’s production—and McGown admits he’s a fan of the Who, too!
He doesn’t just get in the car and aim for his destination, either. “For Legends and Festorics this year, I drove the car up Route 101 from my home in Claremont and hit the back roads I know so well in the Santa Ynez Valley,” McGowan recalls. “Maybe I stopped at a winery, then I went north on 101 to Greenfield, where I cut over to Carmel on Carmel Valley Road. From there, I enjoyed a few events in Carmel, then up to Santa Cruz on Route 1 to visit a friend, and over Highway 17 to San Jose, where I stayed the night. I commuted down to Monterey from San Jose Friday for Legends, and then Saturday at Festorics, and then said goodbye to Monterey. I drove to Castro Valley to visit an old friend there and hit the town in the car for Castro Valley Cruise Night, and then I drove all the way home the next day via 101. Once again, no issues with the car for the entire trip.”
That kind of journey might sound thorough even in a modern car with all the amenities, but McGowan does it in a 50-year-old car that he’s really rebuilt himself. “I bought it in 2014. I liked the cleaner lines and simplicity of the earlier car,” he says. “I rebuilt the engine the following year [still at 1.6 liters] and did the five-speed conversion—turning 5,000 rpm at 80 mph gets old! I added driving lights, a roof rack, mudflaps, period-correct wheels, and more. Basically, my goal is to have all of my ‘visible’ mods be period-correct. I also added a 123 ignition distributor, which, as anyone who has one can tell you, makes a world of difference!”
Although he’s owned the car for four years, it has been a long time coming. “I have a long history with the 2002,” McGowan explains. “When I was in high school, I drove a Triumph TR4. A guy my age that lived up the street from me had a ’72 2002. His was modded with everything we all know and love. We’d go for spirited drives together and he was always able to outpace me—easily. I finally did drive one a couple of years later—a girl who went to my high school let me drive her ’74—and
that’s when I realized it wasn’t my friend’s driving ability that let him outpace me easily, it was the car! So that sowed the seed for owning one, even though it took almost 25 years to make it happen!”
That might explain why once McGowan did get his 1600-2, he hasn’t stopped driving it. This year’s trip to Legends and Festorics was another great way to drive even more miles and miles and miles and miles. “I’ve brought the car to Legends and Festorics four times now,” he says. “It’s always as a display car; it’s driven a lot, it’s not a pampered judged car. The best thing about Legends and Festorics is the people. I know it’s all about the cars, and that’s why we all go, but if it weren’t for the people, I doubt I’d go! So many wonderful, knowledgeable and fun people at these events! I try my best not to miss them.”
“At Legends,” he continus, “highlights are centered around the people, sharing stories and learning about new things technical. At Festorics, it’s the sights, sounds, and smells of the track. Kicking back at the Corkscrew gawking at the cars is a time-honored tradition with me, going back 30 years with my first Monterey historic races in 1989.”
As McGowan drives his miles and miles, he has appreciated BMW CCA membership for more than four years. “What I like about the BMW CCA is that it is really involved with its members and really reaches out to the BMW community. It also provides a nice window into the goings-on with BMW and other BMW owners via Roundel magazine, and through social-media outlets.”
Enjoy those miles and miles and miles this year, Andrew! We’ll see you again in Monterey—and most likely at plenty of events in the meantime!—Kyle van Hoften