Years ago, there was an old European car mechanic somewhere around New Hampshire or Vermont. He was in the process of finally retiring, and he was liquidating cars & machinery that he had collected over the decades. Some classic Porsches & sought after Mercedes – those were gone in a snap. But then there was this runt-of-the-litter E23 BMW. The E23 was the first-generation of BMW’s 7-series line. It was a flagship car in it’s day. But today, collectors & enthusiasts usually seek-out the more sport-oriented BMW models. No one ever called about that E23, and the retired mechanic eventually just drug it home, and put it to pasture in the back of his property. 

80s 7 series BMW

And that’s where the E23 BMW sat, until John Ludwick caught wind of it… 

Interestingly – the car is a right-hand-drive UK model that had belonged to a member of the Turkish consulate back in the ’80s. Oooook that’s super cool. Where had this thing been? What had it seen? And how the hell did it get to the Northeastern United States? John Ludwick poked around further. 

Vintage 7 series BMW

The way old 7-series BMWs were optioned usually went like this:

Being that they were a flagship model, they generally had a bunch of top-line bells-&-whistles… and of course automatic transmissions. You could occasionally find them with a manual transmission, but those were usually super-base models with none of the options. And at that point, you may as well revert to a more driver oriented BMW model like the 3, 5, or 6-series. But this particular E23 BMW – was a special order car. It had all of the fancy options AND a manual transmission, in a rare shade of distinguished wealth-oozing green that the US never saw. Whoa nelly. 

bagged 7 series

John Ludwick cracked the doors open & both door pockets were stuffed with old, scribbled-on European maps.

That was more than enough to clinch John into this E23 BMW’s story & history. He must have it. And if you know John Ludwick at all, when he takes on a new project, it takes over. He would bring the BMW home, and continue its story by modifying the car in line with its diplomatic ‘governor’s club’ former glory. Side Note: John ending up finding some old Porsche parts in the seized-trunk that paid for 90% of the car. Nice.

bagged BMW

A few years later, the E23 BMW was restored, bagged, and lusted after…

With a super-rare BBS (no-foglight) chin spoiler, BBS deck spoiler, and Racing Dynamics skirts. John also found some period Work VS-X9 wheels in Japan that he rebuilt & restored. John Ludwick had been taking the E23 to shows, cruising it around town, and generally doing his thing. But sadly, it was time to move on, and John Ludwick had to sell a car to fund the next project… it just be like that sometimes. 

80s BMW interior

A guy on the West Coast wanted the BMW…

Price was not an issue. John always dreamt of driving that car across the country, so he said, “Listen I know this may sound weird, but if it’s all the same to you, do you mind if I drive it out to you? I’ll just fly back.”

The buyer was like, “Weird, ok, fine, suit yourself.” 

John Ludwick’s friend, Keiron, is the photographer who shot this feature. He lives on the West Coast… but flew to New Hampshire just to make the road trip back home in the BMW. John’s local buddy, Corey, also hoped in the car for good times. And the plan was to take a Southern Route out to California, stopping along the way to do little pop-up meets & document the journey, etc. 

Work VS-X9

Just before they set out on the cross-country journey…

John Ludwick got a call from a friend about a long-wheelbase Toyota Century that just popped up for sale… on the West Coast! A LWB Century was one of John’s absolute dream projects, but he had never been able to find one. John secured the Century with funds from the E23 sale, and the boys drove back across the country in their weird Japanese ultra-prestigious early-90s limo. Here is that Century.

So I guess the moral is: It’s all interwoven…

In life, everything is interwoven. Every opportunity it stitched into previous decisions. They don’t pop out of thin air. So just commit… and go for the ride. Use your right brain. Fight sensibility. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned with this magazine saga, it’s that you can’t measure successes before they happen. You can’t put a value on a trip, or an idea, not even a lunch… and damn sure not on a friendship. And you can never ask… is it worth it? You just gotta double-down, trust your gut, and listen to your heart. It’s your guide; it knows the way. And if you commit strong enough, you’re gonna find yourself (poof) in the right place at the right time. 

Text by Wooley     Photos by Keiron Berndt

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