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From digest.v7.n35 Fri Aug 1 15:18:55 1997
From: (Elliot A Baines, Jr)
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 1997 13:53:40 +0500
Subject: Whatever Happened to Headlight Flashing? (longish)

This is a lament for the good old days, when BMW drivers would flash their headlights in greeting whenever another BMW approached from the opposite direction. Why doesn't anyone do that anymore?

My first BMW was a '79 320i, and I can recall the dealer explaining to me with utmost seriousness that part of being a member of the BMW fraternity was that you were expected to greet other bimmers with a flash of the headlights as they approached. I really enjoyed this cute custom, as it set BMW drivers apart from all others on the road. It seemed that virtually all 3-series drivers participated in this custom. However, I noticed early on that if I flashed my headlights at one of the bigger bimmers I would get no reciprocal response; it seemed that they were either unaware of the custom or were refusing to stoop so low as to acknowledge a 3-series. So I learned to flash only at other 3-series cars.

In 1986 I sold the 320i and "moved up" to a 528e. Immediately I noticed no more flashing of headlights, even by other 5-series drivers. So it seemed that the headlight flashing custom was indeed limited to 3-series.

Last month I moved back to the 3-series fold when I purchased a 328iC, and so I figured I'd be back in the habit of flashing headlights again. Alas, not a single bimmer has greeted me with a flash. I trust it's not just me, and that the custom has truly died.

I can think of a few explanations for the demise of this custom. There are a lot more bimmers on the road now then there were 15 years ago, so it isn't much of a happening when another one approaches (back then there were fewer BMWs on the road in the US than Corvettes). Or maybe the typical BMW buyer is a different sort of person than before -- perhaps more of the "corporate" type and less of a true BMW fan, so less inclined to share his/her enthusiasm. Or maybe people are so scared of what others might do on the highway that they are afraid to make this kind of proverbial "eye contact" with strangers.

Anyways, I obviously long for the good old days, and therefore propose that we "digesters" do our best to revive the custom. Who knows, maybe we can indeed turn the clock back! So if you're driving along and a BMW approaches from the other direction and its headlights give a couple of flashes in greeting, please be sure to flash back -- it might be me!

  • -Chip Baines BMW CCA 145567
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