A Trifecta Of Helping Hands

Last year I was in a bind: The spring weather had finally arrived, but my fun car, Cassie the E36 328i, was stuck in the garage, imprisoned by a 30-foot garbage receptacle. While I will not admit to full-on driving withdrawal, a few symptoms were certainly present.

But then a timely work trip to San Diego led to a pair of unforgettable drives in a certain editor’s M roadster and his infamous retirement-fund-turned Z8, Nancy Drew. The following month, my good buddy, Adam, showed me some secret roads near his old stomping grounds well south of Cleveland, which he let me experience in his 328xi. In my time of need, my friends lent me their hands—with keys in them.

This year has been different. The weather has been erratic at best, so Cassie has stayed in the garage, but I am finally piloting a BMW as my daily driver again. Hailey, my CPO 328i GT, is proving to be a highway superstar that is also surprisingly adept in the turns, given her lengthened wheelbase and more utilitarian design. Other than a light bulb going out, she has been running strong, and she has reliably, consistently stared down some of the worst weather patterns that I have had to drive through. After making the commute from Cleveland to Louisville seven times in the past three months, Hailey has effortlessly piled on close to 7,000 miles in her first ten weeks.

So no, I haven’t needed much assistance this year. Of course, that hasn’t stopped a few folks from helping out anyway.

About that light bulb that went out: It was just one bulb, but it was also a particularly pertinent bulb—a headlight. Normally, one of the low beams going out wouldn’t be too worrisome, unless of course you are planning a long-distance trip at night in iffy weather. Since I would be driving in precisely those circumstances, it was an issue, and I was several hundred miles away from my preferred BMW Cleveland dealership in Solon, Ohio.

Enter BMW of Louisville, which was conveniently less than ten minutes from my hotel. After a hectic day of traveling and work, I pulled up to the dealership, walked over to the service department, and explained my situation. The service advisor, Todd Bibelhauser, asked for my key, checked his screen, and said those magical words: “Good news, it’s covered under warranty.”

The service center was close to closing, so I assumed that I would either need to make an appointment or leave my car and pick it up the next day. Nope; Todd had me pull the car around, hang out in the rather nice lobby area, then head home with two fully functioning headlights. Thank you, Todd, for going the extra mile, even though I hadn’t taken a step inside your dealership before that day!

As an aside, BMW of Louisville will be moving into a new state-of-the-art facility on Blankenbaker Parkway in June. Given the magnitude of the move, they are doing everything they can to sell their current inventory—and I imagine that the discounts being offered are substantial. If you are looking for a deal on a new BMW, a quick gander at the available stock is likely worth a look.

BMW of Louisville has some nice graphics in its main lobby.

The dealership also has some rather distinct-looking BMWs in the showroom.The headlight was more necessity than want, but you know what I really did not need in April? A set of winter wheels and tires. But as a general rule, if a fellow member drops you a message with a ridiculously good deal—regardless of timing—how can you say no?! It turns out that Steve Bodle had seen the story of Hailey, read that I was eventually going to get some winter shoes for her, and had the perfect set for me.

Steve’s previous BMW was also a 3 Series GT, which wore a set of BBS wheels and Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D tires. Obviously a man of impeccable taste (based on his vehicle choices and, as I learned later, beverage preferences), Steve had thoroughly enjoyed his 3 Series but had recently upgraded to a 6 Series GT; the old winter set did not fit. After a few messages back and forth, I drove out to Steve’s place—and drove away with some peace of mind for next winter. Thank you, Steve; I hope to see you at the next Northern Ohio Chapter event!

Would you like a great deal on a set of winter wheels and tires, even though it’s April? Yes, please!

The final assist was not quite as deliberate, but it was just as helpful as the others. Driving back from Louisville for likely the last time this year, I found myself, not surprisingly, in pouring rain. With constant bad weather on my many commutes, I had become used to driving the roads north of Columbus in inclement conditions. This time visibility was particularly poor, and I was fatigued and lacking the focus required to make speedier progress; getting home in time to kiss the kids goodnight was looking less and less likely.

And then a lovely shade of blue streaked passed me.

Based on the distinctive (and very visible) taillights, it was a newer 2 Series convertible, so I decided to pursue it. It wouldn’t surprise me if the driver had some track experience, as they appeared very aware of their position relative to other vehicles, plus they consistently used the available lane space to smooth out each turn. No matter how big and long the turn, there is always an apex!

After a few minutes of following, my mind was committed to the drive, and we were making safe, brisk progress. For a lengthy spell—thirty miles or so—our cars were eerily in sync, as we both set the cruise control, and the distance between our cars stayed unchanged mile after mile. I had originally planned to make another stop to refresh myself, but the fun of following another BMW negated any need for a break. Combined with the extra pace, I was home (just) in time to tuck the little ones in and relax a bit before bedtime. Thank you, mystery 2 Series Driver!

After weeks of driving in rather horrible weather, the sun is finally shining.

As I write this, the sun has finally found its way out from behind the weeks upon weeks of storm clouds, and is chasing away the last of the winter cold. I am trusting that it stays that way, and that the warm weather is well and truly here to stay. After all, I’ve hit the trifecta of helping hands again this spring, and it’s my turn to pay it forward.—Chris Doersen

[Photos courtesy Chris Doersen.]

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