I just figured I would share this, the one in 8,000 BMW Z1, found in Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood. With the Z standing for Zukunft, this indeed seemed a futuristic car, with, though it may be difficult to appreciate in this parked example, doors that electrically slide down into the car’s body rather than open out. Really, that was the be-all, end-all of this car. To me, those descending doors dwelling among those smooth curves are definitely enough to elevate these humble mechanics into a bit of wonder. After all, all cars are extraordinary in their own manner – turning the energy of thousands of explosions per minute into the propulsion of a multi-ton hunk of air-conditioned, traction-controlled machine composed of the most basic of metals to the most advanced of chemical compounds. Cars themselves, stripped of their commonality, stripped of their connotations, are fantastic. Now, the BMW Z1 itselft wasn’t a furious car, nor an overly crafted car (being based on BMW’s bread-and-butter four-door of the time), but from 1989 to 1991, anyone could waltz into a BMW showroom and by a piece of utter automotive fantasy. From its sleek plastic panels to those stylish doors, it’s just so out there, so removed from the usual ieas of cars as commuting tools, family haulers, or even out-and-out speedsters. It’s just so very fantastical, which is why I loved finding it in the neighborhood where I did. Parked in a small lot between an internet cafe/drinks shop and a sidestreet grocery, this Z1 looked like it fell from the sky into this little part of town. This bit of Kreuzberg is a good place to get some bargain shoes and a kebab, some Turkish yogurt, maybe a nice place to watch grungy bums drift among the headscarved housewives looking for cheap watermelon. This car is just wonderfully spectacular, the dream of some eccentric German automotive engineer in the late eighties, born to inspire and excite and now somehow comfortably resting in ethnic part of town. I’ve mentioned before Berlin’s ability to take things in stride, to soak up trauma and history, digesting it with the rich and the poor, the artists and the bankers and make some kind of energetic melange that sitrs about in the U-Bahn and draws all kinds of people to see the new, young Berlin. This is what I’d heard about the town before I came here and it seems everyone is quick to tout the spirit and energy of Berlin. What I didn’t really know was how this feel was going to manifest itself in the day-to-day of living in this city. How exactly was Berlin going to show off how young it is? To me at least, this odd little plastic car does the job well enough.
Posted by: Raphael Orlove | October 13, 2009
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