Sunday, January 12, 2020

[M3] Third time's the charm

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

In early 2015 I purchased my first E30 M3. I had an excellent and formative journey owning that car, meeting some fantastic people and learning lessons (good and bad) about cars, and what I like to do with my cars. I owned that car for 4.5 years and chronicled the experience in a long thread you might have seen here.

At the end of 2017 it appears that I thought it was a good idea to get another M3, this time a pretty serious project. I learned quickly that a project of this magnitude was not a good fit for my resources and sent it on its way about a year later. Link.

After clearing out the M3s, I went into the world of Nissan Skylines. I decided to eschew my usual strategy of "get emotionally hooked on a car and buy it, telling myself I will wrench on it and get it whipped into shape" and instead find a car in excellent condition and start from there. I've had my '92 GT-R for a year and I have loved every minute of it, and I think this was the best approach for me. Instead of fixing and re-fixing issues that keep the car off the road, I wrench on fun stuff (modifications) and never miss a group drive or C&C. With respect to the car itself, the Skyline is an incredible thing and such a different experience from the M3.

I sold off my long-owned Miata in the fall to bring myself down to a 3-car garage. I started to focus on my very rough 2002tii. Applying the lessons learned from my M3s, it quickly became clear that I am not equipped for a project of the 2002's magnitude. I started looking in earnest for a more complete or finished 2002, going so far as to be high bidder on a 2002tii on BaT that did not meet reserve. Through a couple months of searching I just wasn't finding what I was looking for - it seems in 2002tii land that every car is either coming straight off of a restoration, and therefore quite expensive, or needs to go straight into a restoration, which is even more expensive. The 'goldilocks' driver-but-not-rusted-out car I was looking for did not seem to exist.

This was all stewing in my brain through the holidays. A friend invited me on a new year's morning drive, along with a friend of his who I had not met before. I took the Skyline, my friend his Integrale, and the new friend had a 458 Spyder.

After a wet drive we stopped for breakfast at Alice's Resturant, a Bay Area car scene staple. We were munching and chatting cars when a silver E30 M3 rolled through the parking lot. My new friend said offhand, "my buddy has one of those he's selling. It's THE one you would want. Silver over red." Hmm... I said, "could you put me in touch?"

That was on Wednesday. By Thursday afternoon I had all the juicy details. Lachs/Cardinal. 133k miles with the motor rebuilt 3000 miles ago, interior completely redone, and very long receipts correcting every little thing: A/C, heater core, cruise control, rebuilt calipers, new-old-stock door cards (somehow?), windshield, badges, alternator, starter, on and on. By Friday afternoon I had an appointment to see the car, and by Saturday at lunch I had handed over a deposit. The seller was a fantastic guy, total car nut, and he was excited to see the car go to someone who knew why it was special and would drive it. I'm not going to say that showing him that I still had the "E30 M" license plate sealed the deal, but it definitely bolstered my credentials...

The car is stock except for a H&R springs, Bilstein shocks, and E28 M5 wheels. I can't believe I haven't taken a photo of the interior but the red is SO good and every trim piece and button looks (well... probably is) new. Stuff works on this car that I didn't even know wasn't working on my old cars.

I wasn't really expecting to buy another M3, or spend this amount (it was an extremely fair price, but you know how much a nice example is these days), but when I saw the car I and drove it I didn't think twice. I'm back to this platform with what is essentially the car I should have bought the first time... though I couldn't afford it then. I'm hoping that this thread will have fewer photos of me fixing stuff, and more photos of me driving and doing cool things, in comparison to my two other 'progress' threads. Did I mention that I have a shed full of Evo parts that I never got rid of after I sold the other two cars...?

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