I get so much from this forum, that I wanted to give a little something back. So with my 're' introduction due to an extended absence elsewhere in the world, I would like to share a story, a good read, for that's what we do on this forum so I thought it fitting to share a little energy back. I hope you enjoy something a bit different and maybe have a laugh.
It’s hard to pin point when my BMW fanatic craze began. Looking back, it feels like it has always been there. Somehow through a sea of other manufactures options, especially other appealing European alternatives, the twin grills with a Bavarian blue and white roundel shone through like a star. I know many on this forum feel the same way.
I was already taken by the obsession long before I had one to call my own. Apart from the various video and images I consumed, the first to truly enter my life was when my Father had his company vehicle lease come up for renewal. Traditionally he could only choose from a small range of select manufacturers, namely Holden, Ford or Nissan. This time however, the deal had changed. In place of a choice now stood a wad full of cash and a ‘sort it out yourself’ directive. Despite the obvious increase in admin duties, this new deal was a blessing in disguise where he was now free to pick and choose, tailor and dress himself up in the automotive ‘suit’ that was his fitting of him. Little did he know that I had already contacted the tailor I wanted and had requested a dress rehearsal.
I knew the budget wouldn’t stretch to ‘M’ territory, but we could definitely pick up the latest series with M-Sport options. He had already been introduced to the latest Commodore and Falcon of the time, no need to be re-acquainted again. So, with all my teenage persuasiveness, I pleaded my case, presented the numbers and before long we were heading to the dealer for a test drive.
On the drive I proceeded to read out the list of options that would be making their way onto the vehicle. I had picked up a brochure from the dealer after school one day and had spent the rest of the week circling, marking and making lists of all the combinations of series and extras that could go together within the budget. I was always torn between a lower powered base model that we could trick out with all the bells and whistles and the option of a huge powerhouse waiting to be unleashed. After careful deliberation with myself, I came to the obvious choice that I was sure my Father would plainly see, a beast of a machine with whirring twin turbos and enough displacement to make him erase any thoughts of the other unsophisticated options - it had to be a 335i.
I had now placed my order during the car ride over and with my Father providing a simple nod and grunt, that was all the reassurance I needed that he recognised my meticulous evaluation and it wouldn’t be long until we were getting pushed by three hundred ponies back home. After arriving and what seemed like an eternal discussion with the sales representative my Father and he nodded – finally it was done. The sales representative said I’ll bring the vehicle around for your test drive, my Father turned to me and said, “This is the only one I’m trying”, I was thinking, “this is the only one you’ll need to try…”.
The sales representative eventually pulled around in a shiny, white 3-series. But oh-no, he had definitely got something wrong, this was a 320d. I looked earnestly at my Father waiting for him to royally wave off this imposter in place of our rightful chariot. But much to my dismay my Father greeted the man, took the keys and got in. He wound down the window and beckoned me to get in. My dreams. Crushed.
Learning later that he had chosen to go with the 2-litre diesel with M-Sport options galore was a smart move (says my now adult with a mortgage brain). He knowingly pocketed the unused cash too. As many of you that have driven a brand-new base line 3-series out of the box know, they are amazing machines, with more than enough get-go for almost all types of daily driving and with the added extras for comfort and tech for play, they can be luxury on wheels.
Needless to say, that despite first disappointment, this was the beginning of my infatuation with BMW, especially the 3-series. I enjoyed every moment in that car as a passenger but also when the opportunity of a business trip and therefore vacant home presented itself, an unnecessary trip to the takeaway store and back.
I have now owned four 3-series BMW’s, one in each chassis from the E30 through to the E90. After a brief fling with a family Japanese hand-me-down used throughout my last days of schooling and getting me to classes during university, I swiftly moved onto my first, an E36 318i in green. Unfortunately, like all first relationships, it did not last long with it being abused throughout its life by friend’s cousins and others, it was lucky that they had practically given it away as it spent the remainder of its days helping others in the form of parts.
Next came my first love, an E30 318i coupe in glorious gun metal grey. Though it may be seen by many as a step backwards, especially in linear age and technology, this was not the case for me. It was the retro poster child, the grandfather of cool and you need to respect your elders. Still in relatively good shape overall, nothing that I couldn’t DIY, I set upon making it my own and it when the mod bug took hold for the first time.
New wheels were quickly followed by smoked lenses all around to remove the traces of amber. Rubber was replaced, as were floor mats, then finally wing mirrors prepped, primed and painted black, cured and enamel baked in the oven to guarantee longevity. I had put my stamp on it and enjoyed a couple of summers in what I still believe is one of the best vehicles ever produced. They are balanced, nimble and a blast to drive, while the lack of today’s tech allows for a focus on the experience at hand.
Impending long-term international travel was the basis for the E30 be moved on, at times I still wish I kept it. Soon after my return another vehicle was needed. Trawling through the classifieds the options were endless – and boring, that was until I came across a well maintained E46 320i, original sale in the country, with one respectful owner. For the rest of the week still searching it was nagging at me. Nothing else compared with those body lines, nothing else presented my nature, or compelled me the same way I have been since the beginning. It had to be a BMW.
The purchase was made and another couple of years passed with utmost enjoyment. Because the condition was so good, with a comfortable leather interior, I was not persuaded so heavily to add excessive modifications. A blacked-out grill created a meaner front end, tinted windows for privacy and an additional AUX audio port created the ideal conditions for long term use.
Life and finances changed, and although the E46 was delightful most days, my original crush returned to my thoughts.
After a brief consultation with myself, there was no obvious reason holding me back. She had to come home. Her name was Three-three Five and she is now mine.
I have acquired a 2007 e90 335i in Alpine White as a direct import from Japan, with 70K on the odometer.
Although I probably would prefer an LCI for a couple of niceties, the price coupled with the exact specs were far too good to pass on. Upon typing the VIN into the search engine during my search, I was very happy to see that literally ever single option was ticked.
Full M-tech trimmings (body kit, steering wheel, door sills, suspension etc), full black leather interior in exceptional condition, black interior headliner, heated seats etc plus many other appointments that are well known so I will avoid a list. But that is to say I was very happy with the aesthetics and condition. Almost immaculate.
I really enjoyed the car for what it was, but I knew all along that the mod bug was already in full swing. I am doing one thing at a time, enjoying the journey and the DIY aspect that many here I know do. I plan on keeping her for a long while, with lowish km’s she’s got plenty of legs left.
Along with the already instated mods below that I have completed over the past year, I plan to tune to at least stage 1+ MHD, but maintenance first, choosing to get the best result. I also want to improve the suspension with the increase in power.
Here’s a final sign off with a list of mods and a couple of questions below, hope to be part of some events esp. in Auckland and chat with you all more here on the forum.
Mod list (so far…) – I’ll be adding some of my experiences to the appropriate channels on the forum in more detail with pics etc.
1. Black kidney grills
2. Plasti-dip 335i emblem
3. DIY painted shadowline trim
4. CF spoiler
5. 3D Studie rep lip
6. LED angel eyes
7. LED licence plate lights
8. Replaced M-tech door sills with new ones
9. BMS 15mm spacers rear, 12mm front
10. AFE Magnum Force DCI
11. Forge Motorsport DV’s
12. Secondary oil cooler
13. New battery
To must do list includes, coils and plugs, interior LEDs, MHD + xHP. Then a long list of nice to haves.
*First main bug bear is squeaky front brakes at low speed braking. Rotors definitely not OEM, pads new from dealer but are rubbish semi metallics with no chamfer or rubber backing. Because the pads were new, I decided to take apart the callipers, super clean and sand them, silicone the guide pins, copper lube the callipers, clip and back of pads. Sanded the rotors and pads, then bedded them in. Quieter for a month, then back to bad again. Read lots of forums, should I just replace the rotors and pads with quality?
*The biggest annoyance I have is that the front left channel cover clip broke (near where the door opens. This holds the trim and rubber channel down and is now popping up on that side. A new complete gloss black channel cover is $400+, which even for OEM parts is very expensive for a thin piece of rubber and plastic. If anyone has a clip spare or old channel cover (even chrome) I’d be interested.