By Ahmed Latif
I have wanted to write an article about cars for a long time. I thought I would write one about the Toyota Supra and its impact on popular culture or maybe I’d write one about the Subaru WRX and its merging of niche appeal and popular appeal. I even, for a moment, thought I would write it about luxury cars: Aston Martins, Porsches, the whole lot of them. But I could never figure out how to tie cars to the Kallipolitan way, this finding utopia in the little things. I reached out to a local car club in Calgary, thinking I knew what I would find. I was gloriously wrong. And for that I have to thank Calgary’s Bavarian Brigade!
The news can’t help but be glum nowadays. It’s good business for them and the world really does have horrors happening all over the place. Horrors that in all honesty were always happening but we weren’t as connected as we are now. All this fear, not shown in context and shoved in people’s faces creates hostility and defensiveness. People have their guard way up and you can’t build a sense of community, let alone an actual community when people are guarded to the nth degree. It would be funny if it wasn’t sad that in the age of connectivity when everything and everyone is connected, people just can’t connect.
When I reached out to the Bavarian Brigade I thought they were a car club. They probably just like BMWs I thought. But they’re not a club like you see on campus. Occasional events over a shared hobby. This is not a hobby to them, it’s a shared obsession, a passion, a way of life even. They have little to nothing in common except this passion which burns in them and brings them together. And as I write this over the holiday season, I doubt that there is anything humanity finds more sacred than that which connects us and brings us together. In this case, they are united in their admiration of the power, efficiency, functionality, modifications, style, and altogether vibe of fine Germanic machines: BMWs.
They don’t like BMWs, they love them. In truth though, they love all cars. Hard to find a negative word to be said by them. I think they represent not so much a car culture but a car community. Where normal communities are disintegrating out of fear and distrust, strangers — different in every way — come together to discuss and share something that matters to them, that connects them. It is a positive thing, fuelled by love and passion, not anger or hatred or chauvinism or even money. They don’t see cars as materialistic objects of monetary value. ‘The most expensive car makes you better’ is a fallacy that makes them laugh. They see cars as a space: a space where they can be creative. A space in which they can stretch their passion to the limits of their personal budgets, free of any judgements. A space that may throw back at you some frustrations, but passion is worthless without struggle, and beauty is cheap without sweat. This is why they modify their own cars, within the limits of their abilities, again free of judgement. This space, the car, to them is a beautiful and almost tranquil thing capable of creating the greatest rushes and daunting frustration. To them, their car is like staring into the horizon and seeing a utopia, one made just for you. And what they do is share that.
I think this community, and car communities in general, have something we all need: a willingness to share that which matters to us, free of judgement. They are building a community. They are sharing what they love. But they are building something special, make no mistake about it. Strangers connecting with each other and building something that makes people feel a little more at home in this world. And that makes this glum little world of ours a little better, a little brighter. And why are they doing this? Because they can. They can make the world a little better and more positive by sharing what they love, so they do.
Seeing the gorgeous cars that I hoped to write about paled to the camaraderie and sense of community I saw. This earnest welcomeness makes being open about your passion brilliantly rewarding. It also makes their cars, each and together, a little piece of utopia. It’s a little bit of perfection in an imperfect world.
I should also note that they argue about BMWs a fair bit, a healthy amount. And don’t get them started about N54 engines versus N55 engines because divisions run deep and minds change on a whim.
So I thank the Bavarian Brigade for letting me into a world that was once alien to me, and one that now feels like home. Special thanks to Hassan Hamdan, David De Borja, and Jeff Dickinson. And of course a special thanks to their muses, their objects of passion: their BMWs.
You too can find the Bavarian Brigade, just check Youtube, Instagram, or Facebook.