2008 BMW 135i: Pre-Historic
August 11, 2009
No sense waiting around for the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, I figured. You'd just spend the weekend looking at the back of people's legs instead of old historic racing cars. Most of the same machinery always runs the vintage racing event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca the weekend before, an event fondly known as, "The Pre-Historics."
So I pointed the 2009 BMW 135i toward Monterey and looked forward to seeing some interesting cars, notably one of the John Wyer-run Porsche 917s in Gulf Oil colors that raced at the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans and gave Steve McQueen's Le Mans its timeless appeal.
And after I put a couple tanks of gas into the 1 Series over the course of 800 miles or so, I noticed that a lot of us have been choosing the smallest BMW for long-distance travel. Just check the odometer.
No mystery, as this car combines a great driving position, excellent visibility, supple suspension and an engine with a powerband so wide and seamlessly elastic that you never really have to use the gearbox unless you want to.
I spent a lot of time on the usual Interstate, but also took my favorite crossing point from Interstate 5 into the Salinas Valley, CA Highway 129 between Coalinga and King City. It's a classic California road, along a creek bed next to an earthquake fault and then over some mountains covered in coastal oaks to empty cattle pasture.
But as much fun as I had driving this BMW on the winding pavement of Hwy 198, I have to admit that the real reason this BMW is such a great traveling companion is because it's so comfortable. BMW guys can talk at you about power and performance until you're cross-eyed, but the hidden goodness here is a car that's more comfortable than a Honda Accord.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 26,100 miles