My four-hour drive last weekend to pick up the orange spectrum Recaro office chair and the replacement front bumper cover and fender liners for Zelda the Z3 angered up the back injury I’ve been nursing since August. So, no wrenching for this guy this week—just a lot of sitting, stretching, ice packs, and Advil. Ah, the joys of aging. I don’t recall this part getting a mention in When I’m 64.
Instead, I’m going to give you some eye candy that also tickles the funny bone.
I first met BMW CCA member and graphic designer Eric King at the Vintage in 2016. He and his daughter Sarah were doing a father-daughter 2002 project. I, who has three now-grown sons who never showed much interest in spending time with me in the garage, was transfixed and more than a bit jealous. Eric and I became friends, and I was happy to spend whatever time he and Sarah needed on the phone or via email or text advising them on the twists and turns of the project.
(Actually, at that first Vintage, Sarah friended me on Facebook and asked Mike Self for his email address. Eric was aghast. “You can’t just contact those two guys like that—they’re like legends!” he told her. “I don’t know,” said Sarah, “They both seemed really nice.”)
When I bought my ’72 2002tii Louie sight-unseen in Louisville during late winter of 2017, the adventure of resurrecting the car in place and driving it home unfurled, and the idea of writing the book Ran When Parked about it and completing it in time to release it at the Vintage 2017 began to gel. I talked with Eric about the book, as not only is he a graphic artist, he does book design. He was an absolute joy to work with—talented, flexible, and, as it turned out, very funny. With his mad Photoshop skills, he soon began cranking out a series of parodies and mash-ups.
The first one wasn’t a book cover—it was a mock movie poster poking fun at the highly-detailed articles I wrote on bmwcca.org (before BimmerLife was a thing) on repairing and dyeing the seats in my since-sold 1987 E30 325is. I love how the color of the E30 sport seat matches the tones in the mockup. The whole thing was also blogged about on Facebook. ‘CCA member Clint Carroll got off the best line: “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to dye!”
I believe that the image below was Eric’s first parody book cover. He was poking fun at Ran When Park’s overly long but very descriptive subtitle: “How I Resurrected a Decade-Dead 1972 BMW 2002tii and Road-Tripped it a Thousand Miles Back Home, and How You Can, Too.” For the record, I have never driven a 2015 BMW anywhere, not just from Hartford to Boston. The original photo of hyper-relaxed me was taken by Brian Ach on the way to the Vintage in 2016, and originally had me leaning against Kugel, which was then my other tii.
Since Ran When Parked was my first self-published book, and since both the car and the book were expected to be at the Vintage 2017, Eric imagined that this would be the scene. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to wearing rhinestones.
The next book, Resurrecting Bertha, was about buying back the long-dead, badly damaged, and hyper-patina’d ’75 2002 I owned from 1974 to 1988 then sold to my friend Alex. That spawned several mock covers. This one used Bertha’s hood on a so-called “Gruppe 5 2002” that didn’t really exist, but whose images were all over the interwebs for a few weeks.
This one made me long for my departed 911SC.
Although not a book cover, this Photoshopped image graphically stated what many of us feel about BMW’s ever-enlarging kidneys.
The next book, Just Needs a Recharge: The Hack Mechanic Guide to Vintage Air Conditioning, spawned several mock covers. The first was this one, created and posted on Facebook while I was doing an air-conditioning project during a particularly snowy winter.
Later, Eric created this one when my wife and I were without hot water for five days because our water heater died and I didn’t want to pay the absolutely insane quotes I was getting to replace it.
Next came The Lotus Chronicles, the story of the six-year-long resurrection of my ’74 Lotus Europa Twin Cam Special. The book is a compendium of the Facebook posts during that period, with interspersed writings providing reference and perspective, so the subtitle of this mock cover was perilously close to the truth.
And this absolutely merciless cover uses my actual high school photo, and uses the Europa’s “stressed member” design (where the rear lower control arms bolt directly to the transaxle) to poke fun that my high-school self did not exactly look like a total babe magnet.
Since the book was released in the early days of the pandemic, there was also this.
Along with the book and my still-near-daily Lotus Chronicles Facebook posts came things like this, which poked fun at the Europa’s “bread van” image.
As many of you know, for over 30 years, my real-world job was developing technology to look for unexploded shells at formerly-used military training properties. The bluescale image and typeface of my next book, The Best of The Hack Mechanic, were aped in this mock cover that used a photo taken during my final geophysical survey.
Not long after came this, which uses a photo taken after I fainted, fell, and cracked my head against the tile wall in the bathroom. On the plus side, there’s nothing like having a head MRI every few years to reassure yourself that you don’t have a brain tumor.
After the head-scar incident, I wrote the song Damaged Goods about my attraction to patina on cars, guitars, and human beings, and submitted a video of it to NPR’s tiny desk concert. I posted the video, and Eric used the thumbnail shot for this mock book cover that’s so on-point that I now feel like I need to write the actual book.
I’ll leave you with these two that aren’t associated with any book. This one, done when I briefly owned three tiis at the same time—Louie, Kugel, and “Old Blue”—appropriates the artwork from the Bob Dylan album of the same name.
Here, Eric was poking fun at my “Honest Rob’s Used Car Sales” persona. This little masterpiece is based on a still taken from the Kurt Russell film Used Cars, with not only my head, but also four of my cars Photoshopped in. Sadly, the white 2002tii “Kugel” and the red ’87 E30 325is are now gone.
So, if you need graphic art, logo development, website development, or book design work, contact Eric. Just be aware that, if you have a social media presence, you have no idea what may be coming. For the record, Eric says “Soon after we met, I somehow concluded ‘He has an excellent sense of humor—I can really let it fly with him!’”—Rob Siegel