4573 km in a BMW 1602
riviera road trip 70's style
Back in summer 2010, we decided to go on an adventure across beautiful France aboard the equally beautiful BMW 1602. The 02 Series two-door sports sedans came into being at the prompting of US importer Max Hoffman, who convinced BMW that a more attractive 2-door version of the 1500 would sell much better than that decidedly Teutonic sedan had thus far. BMW agreed and turned to Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti, noted for such successes as the Triumph Spitfire and TR4, for a design.
A two-door 1600 (also known as a 1600-2 or 1602) made its debut at the Geneva auto show in 1966 and was sold through 1975. Power output of the M10 engine was up to 96 hp (72 kW) gross with 91 lb·ft (123 N·m) of torque.
Then as soon as we bought it, we could only go for a long trip through the «Hexagonal» country...
France is well known as a land with a variety of landscapes, so when you are driving 4,500 km through the heart of it, you can expect to see some amazing roads. This is what we accomplished with a 1973 BMW 1602, enjoying pure driving and unique moments that they will never forget. We were deep into the 70’s spirit, concerning our clothes and life style. Along the coast, or in Cannes and Monaco, we were proud to be riding in this beautiful old classic car that most of the middle-aged men came to know. This was a nice contrast from all those rental Ferrari F430 or Parisian Bentley GTs.
So we drove exactly 4,573 km through France and the old BMW performed with no glitches, no overheating, no oil leaking.The trip began in Bourges, central France. There were two important rules to obey during the trip: do not use highways and GPS navigation.There was an old-fashion map used as we (well, our parents) would have done back in the 70’s. Also, most of the driving was done at night or early mornings, in oder to avoid the hot French summers. Along with the fact that the light is more pleasant, making the landscapes even more beautiful, quieter.
From Bourges, we headed toward Grenoble, were we took the mythical Napoleon Road, an adventure across 380 km of breathtaking winding roads.
After resting a week in Cannes, we took the legendary Col de Turini, a drive that lasted seven and half hours. We took the most dangerous roads we could find in each areas to go from a A point to a B point. So for instance, to drive from Cannes to Monaco, where it could have taken 30 minutes on the highway, it took us seven and a half hours, driving on the Turini roads. Some of these roads were used for the WRC competition. At times, these roads can be very tricky, with a multitude of blind corners and narrow roads, rocks and cows...when you drive at 80km/h, it can be a challenge.
After leaving Cannes, the trip continued to Saint-Tropez for a much needed breakfast, then Béziers, and from there, the Cévennes. The roads out there are superb, quite dangerous, and very isolated. After a week rest in Rochegude, near Alès, they came back in their starting point, Bourges.
4,573 kilometres and the BMW 1602 got the job done without a hiccup.