The Beginning of CLT – BMW, Bilbao & Beer

The start of Drake & Dom’s disgustingly greasy and wrenchy friendship.

 It’s a warm evening in Bilbao, Spain. The city is alive with anticipation ahead of the big match; the Basque Derby. Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad are the region’s two biggest football (soccer) teams and they go head-to-head tonight. And I’ve got not one ticket, but two. Except the second was accidental. And very expensive. And I have no-one to go with…ahem…awkward.

  I’ve just sat down in the hostel bar, a simple, open plan space with a spread of tables, chairs and sofas, and the cool beer has barely touched my lips when a voice interrupts my serenity.

  ‘What are your plans for tonight, dude?’

  ‘I look up to see a warm and friendly face sitting on the sofa across from me. I stay in hostels to meet new people and have fun, not because I love sharing a room with seven other sweaty men and can’t sleep without the incessant snoring of at least two strangers vibrating my skull.  So this is great.

  ‘Actually, I’m off to the football match tonight, the big game. I’ve got a spare ticket.’

  ‘No kidding? I’ve just been looking at that myself but it’s really difficult to get one.’

  Oh, this could be interesting.

  He joins me at the table, we exchange names – I’m Dominic, he’s Drake – and we’re soon into a wonderfully easy and organic conversation that flows through many different topics.  He grabs a beer, we finish them and leave for the game. 

  But what’s this got to do with cars I hear you ask? Well as is always the case when you meet a new person, you fly between where you’re from, where you’ve been, family history, and then personal interests. And it became very clear, very quickly, that we shared a real passion for cars. Not just that, but we both worked in the automotive world. This guy is getting cooler by the second.

  Over pre-game beers and post-game drinks, the conversation flowed between BMW, Alpina, cars the US never got, my favourite cars, his favourites etc. We discussed the tragic fall of Lancia, the quirkiness of Citroen, the iconic period of Americana, Corvette vs. Mustang, Impreza vs. Evo and it went on into the night. For the following few days, we were inseparable. Bilbao is a great place to socialise and we spent days exploring the varied neighbourhoods and districts of the great Basque city, the conversation natural and effortless. And then it was time to leave. But we both knew it would only be the beginning.

  September found us in Frankfurt for the Motor Show. We met executives from Polestar and Alpina and discussed the future of the car industry with like minded and incredibly insightful people. We visited Stuttgart, and the Porsche museum, before also travelling around some of South Germany in our trusty steed, a Dacia Sandero; a first for the American, Drake. November saw us in Amsterdam and we said goodbye having already discussed what the next steps were; a car blog covering all the glorious and unknown stories from the past 130 years of this wonderful industry. 

  And then on February 18th, 2020, after many conversations and debates, lots of effort and hard work, Cars Less Traveled was born.

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