Recently, the movie Furious 7, the 7th installment in the Fast and Furious franchise, hit theaters. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m told the movie is a fitting goodbye to one of the automotive world’s most beloved actors, Paul Walker. Unfortunately, Walker tragically lost his life on November 30th, 2013 in a car crash along with his good friend Roger Rodas. After leaving a charity event that day, the two were driving in Rodas’ 2005 Porsche Carrera GT at speeds of up to 100 mph, when the car lost control and hit a lamppost and two trees.
The death of Paul Walker is both tragic and untimely, as he was a beloved actor and friend to many. His Fast and Furious franchise has been inspiring young gearheads for over a decade and he brought an heir of credibility to the films, as he was an amateur racing driver himself.
Despite the lack of actual automotive credibility to the last few Fast and Furious films, Walker brought an element of old-school cool to them, which was ultimately the only reason to watch. Once the movies started becoming more about globe-trotting missions and turned the street racing group into a bunch of spec-op level mercenaries and less about cars, the movies became ridiculous. But Walker was the last beacon of gearhead hope in the guilty-pleasure franchise that was Fast and Furious.
Walker and Rodas were some of the biggest gearheads around, with a collection of cars that would make the Sultan of Brunei blush. A couple of years ago, Matt Farah, of the Smoking Tire, took a tour of the warehouse where Walker and Rodas stored their cars and it’s nothing short of amazing. The collection is filled with expensive luxury cars, priceless rare classics and highly tuned racing cars. Their taste is cars was admirable and their actual collection was enviable.
Walker was a fan of all cars from all companies. His favorites, however, seemed to be Mustangs and BMWs. His collection housed an absurd amount of Mustangs, of all generations and various degrees of tuning, from bone-stock to drift-car levels. His passion for BMWs seemed to be his biggest, as his collection of them was not only incredibly cool, but rare and unmodified. His BMW collection consisted of the ultra rare Alpina 2002tii Touring , to two E30 M3’s, an M1 and 7(!) E36 M3 Lightweights.
The E30 M3s are rare and very cool, but every major car collector has at least one. It’s the E36 Lightweights and Alpina 2002tii Touring that impress the most.
The Alpina is incredibly rare, and might be the automotive equivalent of Bigfoot. It’s also amazingly cool, and something most BMW fans would do unforgivable things to own. His, naturally, is left bone stock and was never modified. The M1 is also a treasure of a vehicle and one that makes any auto enthusiast drool.
The E36 M3 LTWs are almost as interesting, but equally as rare. Designed to go racing, the LTWs were basically ultra stripped out M3s. They had no radio, air conditioning, leather seats, sunroof or even the sound insulation under the hood. It also came with a 3.23 rear differential, stiffer shocks and springs and aluminum door skins. M3 LTWs were no nonsense racing cars and, according to the few who’ve driven them, are some of the purest driving cars on the planet. Another cool thing about them is they only came in white with Alpine White with a motorsport checkered flag in BMW M’s colors on the front left and right rear corners.
Paul Walker will always be remembered for Fast and Furious to us fans, but to those who knew him, he was a kind, generous and thoughtful human being who touched people’s lives. He was also one of the coolest gearheads on the planet. So despite the Fast and Furious movies being more about watching The Rock chokeslam people now, instead of racing cars, the newest iteration, Furious 7, should be seen, even if only to say goodbye to one of the best of us car fanatics.