Cars & Stars

BMW: Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bob Marley and the Wailers?

Photo credit: Carpixel

On 11 May, 1981 Bob Marley died in a Miami hospital, victim of a melanoma that first appeared on one foot before spreading to his entire body. He was just 36 years old. His last words, spoken to his son Ziggy, also a musician, were: “money can’t buy life”. These words can be read as an epitaph for the artist. He had led a colorful life, fathering 12 other children besides Ziggy — a life defined by his passion for music, freedom and the fight against racism. A prophet of peace and a beacon of American African culture, Marley had, through the lyrics of some of his songs, done much to counter the problem of youth violence.

Cars, for Bob Marley, were functional; there was no passion involved, even when the car was a BMW E3. The brand name simply reminded him of his band: B for Bob, M for Marley, W for Wailers!

Given all this, you might wonder why he was attracted to BMW cars. What was their appeal? There’s an easy answer to that! Because of the Wailers, his first band, which enjoyed huge success with its first album, “Catch a Fire” in 1973, followed by “Burnin” the year after. Marley’s success didn’t escape Eric Clapton, who did cover versions of two of his songs: “Get Up, Stand Up” and “I Shot the Sheriff”. When the band broke up, Marley decided to pursue his solo career under the name: Bob Marley & the Wailers. And, if you think about it, what acronym does that name give you? BMW! This abbreviation was in fact the only reason why Marley decided to buy a car built by the famous German manufacturer. “I have a BMW. But only because it stands for Bob Marley and the Wailers, and not because I need an expensive car” he once said candidly.

Even though he would leave it unlocked in the street, Bob’s 1602 was never stolen or even touched

He never went for particularly costly cars, the first being a red 1602, one of the German brand’s basic models. He would leave it parked in the busy streets of the troubled neighborhood of Trenchtown, in Kingston, Jamaica, his birthplace and the subject of many of his songs. He would even leave it open, as he was completely confident that no one would ever dream of touching it. Later on, Marley also bought a BMW E3, the forerunner of the Series 5. Even though this was a more luxurious and agile car, the reason he loved it was still the same: it was a BMW.

Well, there’s nothing like being self-referential!

Bob Marley with his BMW E3 2500, powered by an inline 6 cylinder, 2500cc engine with an output of 150 HP