Stalls – May ’88
Whither Brown Car II
Brown Car II lives!
But maybe you don’t know the story of Brown Car II, which , after all, disappeared from these columns long ago. Not surprising, considering how many times it has vanished over the years. But I can’t resist retelling the story, now that Brown II has resurfaced.
Denny Organ, you see, does not spend money on advertising when he has a car to unload. He just calls me. First he sold me a 2000 CS, which I have been unable to resell even though it’s one of the cleanest in the country . It just keeps company with the Cessna most of the year. Then Denny sold me Brown Car I, a 1967 1600 with a bad clutch (turned out just to be a broken weld in the pedal assembly) and perfect suspension . (Make that a Perfect Suspension . Most of Denny’s cars have Perfect Suspensions, even if the iron oxide content of his cars is sometimes a little high .) I made money on that car. Later came Brown Car II. (Still later he had a Re!@ u#t Le Car to pedal (which is about the only way to get an R5 to move), but I d rew t he line there and Denny ‘s sister-in-law wound up with it. She later traded it for a pair of wiper blade inserts for a Peugeot wagon.)
Brown Car II started life as a 1974 2002 tii . Sometime around 1980 (it was then owned by Maabood Ghazanfar pour , a Club member) it was stolen from Bellevue and later recovered sans engine and transmission. The insurance company sold the chassis for salvage, and Denny, who heard about the theft through the Club grapevine, bought it. Denny had steel fender flares fabricated, stripped the car to the gizzards and had it repainted in metallic brown, for wh ich he apparently has an un healthy fetish. Denny also cobbled together a 1969 engine on which he installed a double d ownd raft manifold but no carb, high compression pistons , and so forth. A fresh tranny was assem bled . Between a divorce and , I suspect, a certain level of frustration, Denny decided to aband on the project.
I actually thought twice about getting into this one, which allowed me to haggle the price down to the merely steep before he sold it to me. Denny used to be much prouder of his cars than he is now (it’s hard to be proud after spending half a decade flogging a car like the Green Car). The shell was trailered over to the infamous North Bay of my garage, and about a vanful of the innards followed .
Assembly took some nine months , as I recall. It was meticulous . The bod y was like new . The engine did n’t like the Holley-Weber I gave it, so off it came and on went a Weber 32/ 36DGV, manual choke, of course. I went through about three sets of springs, shocks and bars getting the suspension balanced. New carpets and a thorough cleaning of the interior rounded out the package.
I actually built the car for My Sister the Pathologist in Los Angeles. (It was the wrong color for me, you see. But it came out so well I decid ed to build one for myself some time, one maybe just a little faster, which is how the 2002SC came to be.) It was a blast driving Brown Car II down the east side of the Sierras, and teething troubles were limited to fuel pump and exhaust manifold nuts backing off during the trip (I had brought lots of tools, of course, but no loctite). My reward in Los Angeles, for my trou bles , was my attending three autopsies. I’m glad my sister isn’t a cardiologist.
My Sister the Pathologist rather liked the car despite biannual licensing hassles related to its rather meagre emission control system, if you call the oil vapor breather an emission control system. Thankfully , she resisted put ting a “UDIEISPY”license plate on it, even though to do so would be in such poor taste that the State of California might even have waived the emissions requirements. At some later point Brown Car II blew a head gasket and , I think cracked the carb, but otherwise it gave good service excepting the paint, which developed severe exzema of the clear coat. After four years or so she sold it and bought a four door Volvo , which is the sort of thing d octors d o after their first child is born .
Well, I received a mysterious letter from Glenn Brigham of Johnson City, New York last month. He recently bought a car, and “from the series of articles that you wrote I thought that you might have alread y rebuilt t his engine.” Apparently a copy of the Compendium followed the car out to New York . Glenn, who also confessed to owning a 530i, wanted to know what pistons , distributor , cam, etc. were installed . I wrote back that I have worked on hund reds of cars, but since his letter indicated this was a tii bod y with a carburetted engine, is this Brown Car II? Last week a letter came back that, yes it is, but it’s maroon now. (I wonder if it was repainted correctly? D.O.’s repaint was thorough-bare engine bay, etc. Hard to imagine strip ping all that paint off for a color change, except maybe a change to white.)
Brown Car II is now an inveterate oil bu rner , and Glenn’s letter makes me suspect that smoke rings are the problem. It will be getting a new engine soon. The Enkei wheels I had installed are off (hey, I got a good price on them, ok?) and Exim wheels are on with low profile tires. I d on’t know much more about it, including how the car got from California to New York, but it is gratifying to know that old BMW’s never die, they just disappear.
This article was originally published in the May 1988 edition of Zundfolge