Instead as another military relic from the Cold War era, Oakley’s BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle is very much a functional monstrosity. How it came to the ownership of Oakley reads like a chapter from Charlie Wilson’s War, the non-fictional account of how a US Congressman came to fund the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. The interest of procurement came during an after-work conversation between designer Troy McMullen, and now Oakley CEO, Colin Baden. Though recently brought by Italian eyewear giant Luxottica Group, both McMullen and Baden wanted to instill the fact that Oakley was still very much a company with its unique culture intact. What better way to showcase this rebellious spirit than a military vehicle parked in front of the company headquarter.
After a brief follow-up with his contacts in the military, Troy McMullen had a candidate a mint condition, fully operational BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Produced in the former Czechoslovakia during the height of Cold War, the BMP-1 never really saw active service and only raked up 700 km on its odometer. The price – a cool US$ 52,000. The procurement process took only a few weeks. To actually obtain the vehicle was, however, another story. After a year and half of protocol wrangling and decommission (removal of ammunition, armament guidance system, and sealing of the cannon), the BMP-1 made its rousing debut during a day-long celebration when the company’s sale broke the US$ 1 Billion Dollar mark.
The familiar revving of the engine akined it to any farm or construction equipments, however, the ride on the BMP- 1 was anything but. Tossed like ragdolls, concussion-inducing ride had the vehicle pitched violently up and down, with sudden starts and stops in between. The nearest description conjured about the experience was that of an adult African Wildebeest roaming in sandlot 5 times too small. Advices to future occupants include riding out of the hatch since the Spartan interior means more injuries, no conversation for the fear of tongue biting, and hang on for your dear life. In addition, as one of only two BMP-1 driver, Oakley 3D modeler Josh Gronitz (the other is Troy McMullen) suggested, expect hidden bruises and open wounds. Still, nothing could dampen the fun of it all.