Auf Wiedersehen kleinen Bimmer
1989 BMW 325is, “Blitzkrieg”
If you had said a few months ago that I would be selling my E30, I would have never believed you. I swore up and down that I would be buried in this beat up example of Bavarian Steel. I simply loved the car; even in the state it was in I could enjoy taking a turn at speed, or cruising around town. There was something perfect in all the imperfection that my specific chassis had. To a certain extent, I think that is worth a great deal in a car. The character it earns over time can make even a relatively bad car enjoyable. But as with most things, life has a way of throw particularly steep dips in the road that take out your oil pan. So I found myself saying good-bye to the E30.
I bought this car nearly three years ago. I actually purchased it almost by accident. I wasn’t particularly looking for another car at the time, and I actually didn’t like the BMW brand very much. In fact I flat out refused to buy one on principal for quite some time. However this car popped up on a friends Craigslist hunt, and he sent it my way. “Buy this for me” he joked. I took a look at the ad, a beat up Bimmer for $1,000. I didn’t know much about the chassis or the models, but I figured if nothing else I could track it until it exploded. I texted the owner and scheduled to see it the next day.
I expected the car to be rough, but beyond cosmetic issues I actually didn’t see anything alarming. It was just a neglected E30 that I could bring back to life. I figured, given I didn’t want the car much, I would give the owner a lower offer and see if they changed their mind later. To my surprise they took it on the spot and $600 later I owned my first BMW. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I parked it next to my Miata and started it up every week or so to keep it healthy.
The turning point really came from my Miata’s death. The Miata started making a horrendous noise from deep inside the block. It seems as if I had spun a bearing or two, and the engine was not longed for this world. I debated fixing it for quite some time, but eventually I parted ways with it and was left with only the E30 in the stable. I decided to start daily driving it, and quickly discovered just how great the chassis is. It rode nicely on the freeway, it was comfortable for long distances, it was good on gas.
But more importantly it was fun to drive. I took it to track days, autocrossing and twisty roads. I started modifying it how I wanted. I changed the suspension, interior, and did small aesthetic mods where I could. I took it to meets, and met new people. In short order the car had become a good friend and an ambassador to the car world for me. Where I had a passion for cars before the E30, I now had a connection to the culture because of it. I think it can be difficult to explain just how a piece of machinery can become something of a friend. But if I would call any car an old friend, it would be this E30.
For me, it’s astonishing that I kept it as long as I did. I went through quite a few cars over the years, as I had a tendency to get bored or find better projects. But the E30 continued to stay in the driveway. There were times where I tried to trade it off, or sell it. Each time I did that though, I found that I didn’t like anything else better then my haggard BMW. Nothing drove quite like it, nothing looked as good. I just kept holding on to it, and slowly trying to improve it where I could.
Unfortunately I drove the car into the ground. That is to say, I literally drove the car into the asphalt. While commuting to school, with my suspension nearly as low as it could go, the oil pan caught the edge of a dip in the road. I shut the car off immediately; I knew exactly what had happened. An oil trail followed my car to the parking space I pushed it into. I had let the car down in a big way, and now it was dead. I had a long time to think about the car while I waited for the tow truck to come. It had been great to me over the years, but this might have been the point in which I’d have to say good-bye. I was too deep into another project, and I was starting to realize that I wouldn’t be able to execute the plans I had for this E30. I made a last ditch effort to get the car going again later in the week, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I knew it was time to say my farewells and move on to other things.
So I sold it to my friend who sent me that link three years ago. In a way, I guess I did buy it for him. He has his own plans for the car, and while I might not have gone the direction he’s planning to, I’m happy to see it will live on in some form or another. I had reservations about selling it at all, I didn’t want to see it parted out or destroyed by someone who lacked appreciation for the character this car so rightly earned. So having a friend say he’ll give it new life, meant I felt alright in letting it go.
I suppose it can be a difficult thing to understand for some. To anyone else watching my car go down the road, I was just a guy who was driving an unsafe beater. It had no AC in the summer, and weak heat in the winter. It had dents, and flaking paint, and missing trim on every corner. But I had a bigger smile on my face whenever I was behind the wheel of that car then nearly anything else I have ever driven. It was because of that car that I met so many of the friends I have today, or even started this website. It took me on adventures I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and for that I owe the car so much. But all good things must come to and end.
Good luck little Bimmer, I’ll see you around.
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