I was 14 years old and had just flunked geometry (for the first time) when a summer-school buddy handed me Surfer Rosa (along with Frankenchrist by the Dead Kennedys) explaining that, while I was a cool guy, I had lousy taste in music. Life being the ultimate ride, today I'm eating tacos with Pixies drummer David Lovering and he's agreeing with me that yes, Surfer Rosa is his favorite record from their catalogue. But we didn't come to talk music. We came to talk Deutsche-sleds. In particular, Lovering's black-on-black on black BMW 545i.
Did Mr. Lovering consider any other cars? "No." Not a Mercedes? Not an Audi? Not some exotic Italian? "No." David knew the then brand-new (2004 model), top-of-the-line 5 Series, with all the chrome bits deleted and a black interior, was the only ride for him. Having never been a fan of the new-Bangled 5's looks, I'm convinced triple-black is the only way to go. The car looks menacing and fast. But how does it drive?
To find out, I pointed Lovering in the direction of Angeles Crest Highway, 15 miles north of his home near Downtown Los Angeles. Angeles Crest holds the dual honors of being named one of the "20 Greatest Roads" by Automobile and, before some resurfacing cleaned things up, being the most dangerous road in California. David was going to let me drive his pride and joy.
A few days earlier, Lovering had contacted me about his run-flat Dunlops, which needed replacing after only 13,000 miles. I immediately called Farago, who subsequently launched into a rant about how run-flats have ruined the 5 Series and how Lovering must ditch the Dunlops, the active steering and the iDrive, and buy a car with DSG. David sort of took his advice, and wound up slapping a set of good, old pneumatic Goodyear Eagle F1s on the Bimmer. It's the same sort of tires he used to stick on his pre-Pixies-reunion, busted-ass Toyota Camry he tells me, smiling.
The F1s are good choice, as the BMW was on the mega-twisted two-laner like K-Fed on Britney's wallet. David claims the new tires make a huge difference; the car, he says, is less "clompy" over bumps and much quieter. Now it was my job to make 'em squeal. The first thing I always notice about the new 5/6 Series platform is how incredibly sorted and tied-down the chassis is. Dis the design and flash-bang wizardry all you like; these cars are runners, and they like the hills.
Six miles up Angeles Crest you'll find a long, blind left-hander that probably rises 500 feet in elevation. I told Lovering to hang on as I dove headfirst into the bend at 10 mph faster than a sane person should. "Chirp chirp chirp," said the Eagles, as the backend was trying its damndest to break loose. More throttle, more lock, more chirp — boo ya, this Bimmer is bona fide. Sure it's an automatic (and we both forgot to use the manumatic), the active steering is comparatively numb and you are totally isolated from all but the harshest noises. Nevertheless, few finer two-ton sedans exist.
Then it was David's turn. I contemplated how I was putting my life in the hands of an honest-to-goodness rock star, as he ripped down one of the most challenging roads in the world. Just minutes before, Lovering let me know he'd never taken his ride on a really curvy road. What he didn't tell me was that back in wilds of Boston, his first car had been a Triumph TR7. He knew exactly what he was doing and made the tires sing much more sweetly than I'd been able, or dared to try.
Back at his crib, Lovering immediately began rubbing down his baby with a diaper, removing the bits of bug and whatnot we'd collected on our romp. The BMW is currently his only vehicle, as he generally bikes or walks to the 7/11. Is he thinking of replacing it anytime soon with, say, an M5? Not for the time being, he says. These days he spends most of his time on European tour buses.
You can check out David Lovering's all black 545i parked in front of the Magic Castle [LINK most Friday nights when he performs "Scientific Phenomenology" with his sleight-of-hand trio, The Unholy Three. You can't get in to watch, though, as you are not on the list.
[by Jonny Lieberman]
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