derBayerische January/February 2022 - 13

T H E D R E A M E 2 1 I N E V E R H A D , A W A K E N E D I N T H E E 4 6 I O W N
post. Using my miserable German, I
learned he restored old BMWs; he
was working on a 1500 or 1600 at
the time. (I remember that, because
I wanted a 320i, and the thing he was
slaving over looked to my unbaptized
eyes like a tub.)
The shop, himself, and the car
were immaculate. He wore, as I
recall, those ubiquitous blue overalls
German mechanics (technicians)
wear. When I asked if he could do
a 320i, he looked at me with what
could have been disbelief. Or
irritation. Maybe the E21 was still
too new to be restoration-worthy.
We departed.
A friend owned a 320i while I
was stationed in nearby Ansbach;
he loved it. So elegantly simple.
So . . . German. And, while I owned
during those three wonderful years a
Ford Taunus with an incredibly
notchy transmission and a Mercedes
Benz 250CE, which had no
discernable top speed, I never
bought the BMW.
The Mercedes filled a need: one
autumn day, fellow tank lieutenant
Ron Webster and I headed for the
Dexheim Highland Games at autobahn
speed. After the games, we
collected a British army bagpiper.
Off we tore into town, looking for
beer and fun, and found a wedding.
The bagpiper, a soldier of principle,
if not sobriety, refused to play in
the street to gain entrance to the
wedding venue. " Will you play in a
Mercedes? " I asked. Up he went
through the sunroof and piped for
his beer; the doors opened, and we
were welcomed into the wedding
party!
Before shipping home in 1982,
I decided that stateside, I'd need a
four-wheeler (the abbreviation SUV
hadn't yet been invented). After all,
I hunt and fish and would need a
muscular truck. Immersing myself
in reviews at the magazine racks of
on-post Stars and Stripes bookstores,
I chose a Ford Bronco. At the
Nuremberg post exchange, the
American automakers had offices
where GIs could order vehicles from
January I February
their specification books for U.S.
pickup, and so I did. The dealer said
he had never seen such a detailed
order. It cost a staggering $11,000.
The moment I saw that Bronco
sitting all alone awaiting my arrival
in the back lot of Town and Country
Ford, in Louisville, Kentucky, was a
magic moment worth its own article.
Blue and silver and white slotted
wheels with big tires and sass. It's
on a friend's ranch in Texas; I put
275,000 miles on it over 17 years.
The indestructible, stump-puller
300Ci six; standard transmission,
roll bar, no carpet and no headliner
to get musty and nasty.
That Bronco was - and is -
pure America.
Then there was a sultry green
1998 Sebring convertible bought in
2000: a terrific car. Ten years and
two romances in that curvy job.
And then in 2009, while serving
in the Pentagon as deputy chief
of public affairs for the Army, a
former boss who had become the
commanding general of the 3rd
Infantry Division and Fort Stewart
and Hunter Army Airfield, near
Savannah, gave me the opportunity.
He was readying the division
for deployment to war. He'd be
taking all the leadership with him,
and the Army authorized him an
Army Reserve one-star to " mind the
house " while he was gone. Would I
do it? Some questions need not be
asked twice.
I would be the first or second
Army Reserve general in history,
they said, who had been given such
an opportunity; I would be in command
of a huge post - some say the
largest Army installation (measured
by acreage) east of the Mississippi.
I'd be responsible for managing the
deployment of the division after the
general left early to establish his
headquarters in advance. The post's
families and employees, all the infrastructure
of a small city, and the
training of replacements, as well as
- nearly two years later - managing
the division's redeployment, would
be my responsibility.
Then it occurred to me. The
ragtop Sebring was getting ragged.
I was headed for what promised
to be a profoundly different chapter
in my life. Was the Automotive
Almighty telling me something?
Could it be that now was the time to
do what I hadn't done so many years
before? S'pect so.
Back to the research. Where
once I'd relied on magazine articles
about trucks, the Internet dished up
volumes of material on the BMW.
I wanted what I had learned by
now to be a " three-series " (I didn't
know it was an E46 for some time).
After test-driving a 2006 330Ci
convertible that was more expensive
than I wanted ($30,000), I decided
that nonetheless a 330Ci convertible
would fulfill my younger
fantasies. The salesman who
showed me one, at BMW of
Alexandria, was a Brit who'd served
in some war, which made us kin.
He brimmed with enthusiasm for the
brand, letting me drive it aggressively
on I-395 (or what I thought was
aggressively).
That was it. But he didn't have
a green or black one (having been a
BMW owner for a decade now, I have
never seen a green E46 convertible).
On the Internet, I found a black one,
with tan leather interior and not
many miles, at the Chapel Hill, N.C.,
BMW dealership. The salesman sent
photos. Thirty-thousand dollars.
Perfect, hold it for me! I lined up
a loan.
The goodbyes having been
said in D.C., most of my stuff put in
storage, and my Capitol Hill house
■ Relaxing at a 2017 Cars and Coffee at Great Falls, Va.; I prefer to sit and sip, watching the grand show pass by.
13

derBayerische January/February 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of derBayerische January/February 2022

derBayerische January/February 2022 - Intro
derBayerische January/February 2022 - Cover1
derBayerische January/February 2022 - Cover2
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 1
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 2
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 3
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 4
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 5
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 6
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 7
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 8
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 9
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 10
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 11
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 12
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 13
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 14
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 15
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 16
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 17
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 18
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 19
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 20
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 21
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 22
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 23
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 24
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 25
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 26
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 27
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 28
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 29
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 30
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 31
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 32
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 33
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 34
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 35
derBayerische January/February 2022 - 36
derBayerische January/February 2022 - Cover3
derBayerische January/February 2022 - Cover4
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