For quite a few months I was planning on starting a new series of articles and photoshoots. Having participated in more and more car events and local meet-ups, I started to realize there is more to the automotive world than only the vehicles themselves. It is the people who own them and drive them, the so called ‘care-takers’, who are temporarily or permanently responsible for the legacy of the car or bike, before it will be passed to somebody else.
Few weeks ago, I had a chance to make this project a reality. The first Petrolfans’ People and Cars episode features a great duo owned by a constructing architect from Copenhagen. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome William Gardner, his BMW 2002 and café-racer styled Honda CB750.
JOYFUL SUNDAY AFTERNOON – DRIVING THE CLASSICS
I met William in front of his apartment on a warm Sunday afternoon – this time the late Danish summer did not disappoint and the sun was shining bright. An ideal weather for a motorcycle and car photoshoot.
We had chatted for a short while and then William suggested a short ride around the town before we head to the planned location. We walked to the jadegrün BMW 2002 and brought it up to where the motorbike was parked. William gave me the keys, put on his helmet and headed off. He fully trusted me with his car, but the 2002 and I started off the wrong foot. To follow William, I needed to make a U-turn, but did not know how to switch to the reverse… Luckily, the road was sloping in my favour and I managed to drive up to William to ask the key question. Turned out the reverse was all the way to the left, farther than the first gear, and requires a little harder push. After that, the ride was nothing but joy!
Driving the badass duo, we headed to the harbour close by. William led the way, definitely heaving lots of fun on the stylish bike, making it quite difficult for me to catch up. When we reached a hippie neighbourhood, we stopped for a short walk around the locals’ houses. The venue seemed like the free-city Christiania – just far less hyped and therefore much more natural. The area was full of interesting places and I suggested stopping by a scrapyard-alike plot with freight containers painted with colourful graffiti. We both agreed it will make for a perfect background for the shoot and stayed there for the rest of the day.
HOW THE CAR JOINED THE CAFÉ RACER – WILLIAM AND HIS TOYS
What is always interesting about a vehicle is its story and this case is not any different. By looking at the two, you might just see a modified bike and a classic car, but there is much more to it. Join us for a short conversation about them:
Adam Pękala: You mentioned the bike was first in your garage, tell me more about it.
William Gardner: It’s a 1973 Honda CB750 with inline-four, rebuild as a café racer. I bought it almost nine years ago and at that time, the bike was completely disassembled, as the previous owner was restoring it.
AP: Did you put it back together yourself?
WG: No, I didn’t. The previous owner assembled it back to one piece, but after I brought it to my mechanics, it turned out the restoration process was far from perfect. One would think when re-building the engine, the first thing you’d focus on are carburettors. These were dirty and needed additional regulation for the engine to run smoothly. And then, the café racer project began.
AP: The outcome looks really good, tell me a little bit more about the process.
WG: We cut the frame around the seat, and re-fitted it with a custom-made saddle. Funnily enough, it was re-done three times, even though I met with the manufacturer, exchanged drawings and sketches of how I would like it to look. First time, he got the shape completely wrong, it was flat and without the little bump on the back. Then, even though a very high-quality leather was used, the stitching was done horizontally, rather than as small diamonds. After it was produced for the third time, with large diamonds rather than small and in worse, although still quite good quality leather, I just decided to take it.
The tires were changed as well as the lights and handlebars. We also added cone-shaped air-filters to the carburettors. The engine runs fine now, but even though doesn’t drip oil, eats it like crazy. I must have fed it with at least three small bottles last season!
AP: I need to admit, those café racers make me think about a motorcycle driving license again. I wanted to make one when studying, but my parents forbad me to, so long they were supporting me at University.
WG: Same story here, my mum forbad me, too. The difference is, one day I just did it. Then I bought the bike and showed up at her place. She was not happy! Few weeks later my mum just called me out of nowhere and started a chit-chat, which we are not really used to, as we see each other quite often. I asked ‘Mum, what’s wrong?’ and then it turned out that she heard an ambulance passing by and was worried something happened to me.
AP: I guess I will just need to do the same. How about the car? When and how did you get it?
WG: I always wanted a BMW 2002 so some years ago I started looking for the right model for me. As I had a chance to test drive a few models and try the different engines I exactly knew which one I want. I drove the 100HP version, then the more powerful 120HP one. I can assure you, once you try the faster one, there is no turning back, you don’t want the regular ones. After no luck finding one here, in Denmark, I reverted to checking German, French and even Italian markets, but haven’t found what I was looking for. Two years ago, I came across one just outside of Copenhagen and bought it straight away!
AP: Do you know the history of the car?
WG: Not all of it. It’s definitely not a perfect classic, it has a good history but it’s not a matching numbers car. It was originally sold to Denmark but then spent some time in Sweden – few to ten years, quite difficult to track. It is fitted with the 2002tii engine producing 130 horsepower.
AP: It drives perfectly, the clutch grasps right from the start, has plenty of power and the steering is very precise. One thing that caught me was the reverse…
WG: It is tricky if you don’t know and waiting there for you in the middle of the road, I already knew what was going on! It is a good drive. I recently fitted it with the period correct BBS RS rims. Similarly to the car, I found them in the Copenhagen area. Turned out, someone in Nordvest had them in his attic and it was a set of five, so even the spare is a BBS.
AP: They really add to the car, it looks lovely! Did you make any other changes or maybe you have some modification plans for the future?
WG: When I bought the car, it was equipped with very large halogens, bigger than the original headlights. The previous owner must have used it for classic rallying or something similar. I decided to replace them with much smaller version, with yellow glass. It matches the green paint and makes the front look much more balanced.
I don’t have too many plans for the future, but I will definitely change the front tires to match the rear – I really like the angled Toyo tread. At the same time, I might re-assemble the wheels and replace the bolts with golden ones. I think it would really match the colour and halogens. Maybe an aftermarket Alpina air-intake? They are cool but quite pricey and difficult to get.
AP: You seem really passionate about cars overall and this one in particular. How did this passion start for you?
WG: Well, doubtlessly because of my dad. When I was a child and then a teenager, the weekends were spent in the garage. My dad and I were polishing and fixing the cars, and I guess that is what hooked me to the automotive. Later, we also took part in classic regularity rallies. It was few occasions but rather than keeping the assigned speed, my dad was more ‘pedal to the metal’ type of person
AP: How do you cultivate it today? Is it a part of your everyday routine?
WG: When I worked farther away than 20-minute walk from the office, I used it as an excuse to ride the motorcycle. It was great fun and at the same time really easy to park in the city. However, when it rained it wasn’t the most convenient – the lack of fenders results in water all over the back as well as straight in the face from the front wheel… With car it’s different, especially living so close to the work. When the weather is good though, I tend to take it for a spin after hours. I drive on the quiet country roads up North Zealand or down south around Amager. Really relaxing!
AP: Sounds like pure joy.
WG: Shall we head back? I know a tunnel nearby. It should be fun!
ROARING THROUGH THE TUNNEL ALL THE WAY BACK HOME
We did as William suggested – headed on a by-pass with quite a long tunnel. The roaring sound of the two inline fours echoed off the tunnel walls and made for a perfect symphony of engines. The Honda was obviously in front but somehow, I managed to stay quite close. Shooting out of the tunnel onto the highway was with a quite a bit of understeer, but I brought the car back on track. Since the speedometer in the BMW does not work, we must have been right on the speed limit. For sure… We slowed down and rolled back to Copenhagen. It was a great Sunday!
Huge thanks to William, for his time, great stories and trusting me with his car!
Text & Photos: Adam Pękala ©