Some people spend their whole lives searching for what they want, while others already know from an early age. BMW employee Dennis Christiansen became enamoured with the BMW 02 series in his pre-school years, despite no-one else in his family having a special affinity to this particular model. Even now, it is hard to say who found who: was it the boy who had his sights set on a sporty sedan, or did a car that was slowly becoming a legend find the young Dennis? When a childhood passion develops into a career – that’s the stuff of fairytales.
It’s usually the parents or other members of a family whose choice of car triggers a burning desire in their offspring to sit at the wheel of that exact model one day. Not so in the case of Dennis Christiansen. In the mid-1980s, before he had even started school, the little boy would look at used 02 series models and proclaim to his parents that this car and this car only was the best. It was an attachment entirely of his own making. And it proved to be far more than a passing whim, the teenage Dennis standing by the verdict he reached so early in life. Unfortunately, there were no BMW 2002s in the classified ads section of the local paper, but he did find a 1502 that he liked and promptly bought it. This all happened at the age of just 15, when other teenagers had only mopeds on the mind. When he was 16, he joined BMW 02 Club Deutschland as its youngest member ever – and the only one with an 02 but no driving licence!
Seek and collect.
Anyone who has ever restored an old car knows just how many chance findings are needed when searching for parts. Dennis’s first automotive love, that BMW 1502, was plagued by the model series’ most common problem: rust. As on so many other cars of its time, the rear bumper corners had rusted through and a replacement item was called for. A truck yard in the town of Velbert, North Rhine-Westphalia kept a whole array of scrap 02s for spare parts. Dennis was allowed to remove whatever he needed and he found a rear bumper in remarkably good condition on a still complete automatic 2002. While dismantling the desired part, he took a closer look at the rest of the car. Although its paintwork had long since disappeared under layers of moss and algae, the underbody was in decidedly good condition, far better than on his BMW 1502.
Two for the price of one.
Instead of buying just the bumper, Dennis took home the whole car. So he now had two classic BMW models, but still no driving licence. Some thorough cleaning transformed his latest purchase from a forlorn source of spare parts into a gleaming modern classic with only 72,000 km (45,000 miles) on the clock and just one previous owner. The interior had been wrecked by the many years of exposure to damp, though, so that meant more extensive renovation work. The owner and car who had been searching for one another for so long were finally ready to roll at Dennis’ long awaited 18th birthday. Driving licence in hand, the boy turned man was able to drive his BMW 2002 at last.
Turning a passion into a career.
Now in his mid-thirties, the likeable businessman and BMW employee works at the BMW Group Classic und M Kompetenzzentrum in Stuttgart. Privately he continues to collect BMW classic cars and already has a total of 17 stored in garages, including, of course, both the BMW 1502 that first lit the fuse and the 2002 Automatik discovered by chance. He grins as he tells anecdotes of police checks after nights out clubbing, when the officers paid more attention to the immaculate condition of his BMW. His friends, meanwhile, could only look on as their pimped-up bangers were taken apart. Dennis can’t often find time for long drives out these days. But when an opportunity does arrive, he turns on the original Becker radio and searches for some suitable musical accompaniment. Perhaps “Sweet Little Sixteen” is one of his favourite tunes.