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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

July 28th, 2010 13 comments
2002 Steel Gray M Coupe

My New Coupe!

…And I’ve waited a long time. Since starting my search almost 6 years ago I’ve gotten married, bought a house, bought a family car (Audi A3), and had 2 kids. But the wait is almost over. Earlier today I put a deposit on the coupe pictured above. This will officially be the last post in the “My Search” category.

2002 M Coupe Interior

Imola Red Interior

My search took so long because I was so picky. Ever since seeing an M Coupe in steel gray with imola red and black interior at the 2001 Denver Auto Show, I’ve wanted that exact color combination, and only that color combination. After not seeing another one in almost 9 years, I started to grow tired of the search and started thinking of opening my search to other colors. Glenn cured me of that notion when he let me come see and later drive his coupe (see Ruined for Anything Less). I was immediately re-hooked and the search continued.

Glenn’s M Coupe only has 7,000 miles and is one of the most original and well cared for coupes out there. It also happens to be just 1 of 2 in this color combination without a sunroof. I thought very long and hard about trying to buy his, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to save up enough to give him the price he deserves for his car. We are definitely planning a photo shoot with our coupes after I get mine and before he sells his.

I came across this coupe on Sunday when checking sales listings on my phone from Lake McConaughy, NE while at a family reunion. My phone was my only source of Internet at the house we were renting, so I immediately tethered it to my laptop to make sure my eyes were not playing tricks on me. Sure enough, there was a steel gray over imola red M Coupe for sale with Colorado license plates. I called immediately to get more details and have been working on securing financing since getting back in town on Monday.

S54 Engine

S54 Engine

This coupe is literally exactly what I had in mind when starting my search (if not a little nicer). It’s a 2002 with less than 30,000 miles. It’s completely stock besides a clear bra (which I love), clear corner lights (which I would have done anyway), and “M” valve stem caps (sure, why not?). The previous owner works for Adam’s Polishes, so I know it’s been well cared for by nice products. I love how wet the paint looks in the photos; I can’t wait to see it in person.

This coupe is actually registered just 40 miles away from me in Boulder, CO. Two days before posting it for sale, the current owner shipped it to his dad’s dealership in Delaware. It will now have to make the long trip all the way back to Colorado. It probably won’t see that many miles again for some time. It’s supposed to arrive in Delaware on Friday. Gambacorta Motors will inspect it, send me the report, and then ship it back to Colorado. I probably won’t have it in my possession until at least the end of next week if not the week after. I have a feeling those 10-14 days will feel longer than the 6 years I’ve been waiting already.

I’ve had a lot of help with my search and need to give some people credit:

  • Glenn – for reigniting my search for the color combination I’ve always wanted
  • Bob – for helping put things in perspective and giving great advice in all areas of the transaction
  • Eric – for helping figure out financing and making me aware of this cars existence before it was even listed
  • Jeremy – for solid advice and helping hold me over through the years with t-shirts, bumper stickers etc.
  • Josh – for your wealth of knowledge of these cars as well as great thoughts and advice
  • MY WIFE (most of all) – for letting me spend so much time looking and being almost as excited as I am now that we’ve finally found one

You can see more information and photos of the car by clicking here.

Categories: My Search Tags: ,

Here Today, Gone…Today

June 17th, 2010 10 comments
2002 BMW M Coupe

2002 BMW M Coupe - $21,998

Pictured above is the first coupe I ever actually tried to buy in my 5 years of searching (click here for more photos). My 5 week-old daughter woke me up at 5:30 this morning, and I decided to drag myself out of bed. Before starting work, I did my morning nationwide M Coupe search and this car came up at a CarMax near Los Angeles. I immediately called them knowing they obviously would not be open at 4:30 AM local time, but deals like this on a car I want, do not come up often and I wanted to get my name in first. I left a message on my first call, sent an email through their website, then proceeded to call every 15 minutes to half hour until the store closer to me in Colorado Springs opened at 9 AM.

I had never dealt with CarMax before as the Colorado Springs store is 2+ hours away, and I honestly didn’t know it was even there. I primarily just had questions about their inspection, warranty, etc. and didn’t want to wait until the California store opened to ask them. After all, I had already been staring at the photos, looking for flights, planning my route home, and not getting any work done for 3.5 hours. The guy I talked to informed me about CarMax’s ability to do transfers between stores because CarMax is not franchised but has one parent company. He also enlightened me to the fact that if you purchase a car from a dealer in California, you pay sales tax to California whether or not you’re going to register it there. In essence, you would be paying sales tax twice. He said the transfer fee would be far less than paying California sales tax (not true, see comments below). Now that I was convinced I should have it transferred rather than flying out to get it, he put in the transfer request which was then immediately rejected because the car was non-transferable. CarMax did not have the title in hand yet, and Colorado consumer protection laws won’t let dealers sell you a car without a title. He said to wait until the dealer selling it opened and talk to them directly if I was willing to fly out and buy it in person.

I continued to try the California dealer’s number every 15 minutes until someone finally picked up. Somehow the salesman I talked to (who said he was one of 50 there), had already had 2 calls on it before me. One of which was from Cincinnati who I immediately knew was Enthusiast Auto. I told him I had cash and could fly out tomorrow to come get it. He started to put in my order but said someone had already put in a transfer request to Ohio. I told him I had tried to do the same thing a while earlier but was told it was non-transferable. He said it shouldn’t be able to be transferred and would talk to their business department and tell them he had a cash buyer. He also said that his particular CarMax didn’t sell to dealers which gave me a little hope. After quite a bit of back and forth and a call to the business department directly, I learned that Ohio allows transfers without title, the Cincinnati dealer opened 2 hours before mine and his formal transfer request was slightly before mine, they do “sometimes” sell to other dealers, and the car was sold.

What I learned:

  • Sometimes you can be prepared, get an early start, do everything you can do, and still not be able to get the car you want.
  • CarMax sales people are very helpful and informative (although not completely truthful) when they have a car they think they can sell to you but lose interest quickly.
  • CarMax does not know how to handle cars that generate nationwide interest.
  • It’s not the time you first call or email, but when you actually get a hold of someone and put in a formal request to buy a car that matters.
  • Consumer protection laws sometimes only protect you from the car you’ve been seeking for years.
  • CarMax buyers on the East Coast have a large advantage when looking for cars on the West Coast. I’m not sure if in the future I can call an Eastern time zone dealer and put in a transfer request then have the transfer request switched to my dealer later? I have a feeling I’ll never have another opportunity to find out.
  • Steel gray over gray at the right price, can make me compromise on my search for steel gray/imola. I’m not sure any other color combination could, and I don’t see a deal like this ever happening again.

I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Life goes on. The search continues…

Categories: My Search Tags: , ,

Ruined for Anything Less…

June 11th, 2010 5 comments
Glenn's M Coupe

Me and My Dream

The problem with starting with perfection is that it’s hard to settle for anything less. That’s the problem I’ve run into.

Imola Red Driver's SeatLast Sunday, my wife and I went to her cousin’s graduation party in Denver, CO. We were only a few miles north or where “My Perfect M Coupe” lives, so I contacted the owner Glenn to see if we could swing by so my wife could see it (and I could see it again). My wife had never seen a steel gray M Coupe in person before and photos just do not do it justice (but that’s a whole other article). I felt I had to justify to her why I stare at photos of it all day. Glenn was gracious enough to oblige, so we headed over to his house. The coupe is usually in the back of his tandem garage covered and surrounded by Styrofoam panels. Needless to say we had to move a lot of stuff (including his beautiful 1996 Viper GTS) to get to it. He pulled it out of the garage to let us look it over in the sunlight. We oohed, aahed and took photos for a while until his wife got back and could watch their daughter. He then took me for a ride in the foothills behind his house.

Driving

In Awe

After a great ride he very unexpectedly pulled over and called a “Chinese fire drill”. I have to say it was probably the most exciting car moment of my life. Believe it or not, I had never actually driven an M Coupe before despite having this entire website devoted to them. I had driven a Z3 Coupe 3.0, an S52 M Roadster and an S54 M3. I had just assumed an S54 M Coupe would be the perfect combination of the three, and I wasn’t disappointed. He said I was the only other person to drive it since he got it which made me feel especially honored. When we were leaving, my two year-old son went over to the coupe and called it “Daddys”; I’ve never been so proud.

Before that day I had been semi-considering compromising my long search for steel gray/imola and pursuing one of the other coupes currently listed. There are a lot of choices and some very good deals on great cars right now.  Seeing his car again, and then driving it, has ruined me for all other coupes. It only reaffirmed my dream color combination, and convinced me to do what I can to try to make this special car mine.

Thank you Glenn! And a special thank you to my wife for being willing to keep our 2 year-old and 4 week-old up late, so I could live out a dream.

Our A3 Among Friends

Our A3 Among Friends

Backsides

Back Sides

Categories: My Search Tags:

Victim of the Coupe Cartel?

May 24th, 2010 1 comment

M Coupe CartelMany people have noticed that the two M Coupes in the color combination I want happen to be by far the highest priced. Bad luck? Ironic twist? Or victim of a conspiracy? The so called “Coupe Cartel” was specifically created for coupes such as these. The cartel believes M Coupe prices should start at $60,000 and seems to have succeeded with these two. Here’s where it all started…

History

According to an inside source, the cartel originated on the Roadfly forums in November 2002 with a group of original S54 M Coupe owners. The concept was pitched by “Polar Bear” (Neal Zimmers who ironically owned a 1999 with the S52 engine), it was later named by “marauder” (Chaz the creator of 368s.com), it was seconded by “MDork” (who created Dorkfest), and the price point was suggested by “dp” (Dennis Palatov of palatov.com and dpcars.net). The pitch went something (exactly) like this:

I was thinking (dangerous habit) there’s few enough S54 M coupes that will a little work, the owners could collude on prices and try and bring the resale value up…….

there’s what, maybe 500-600 S54 coupe owners?

And so it began…  This small group had no idea the far reaching effects this one innocent thread would have, and the impact it would have on this poor M Coupe lover almost 8 years later.

The original thread can be viewed here.

The Coupe Cartel Today

M Coupe T-Shirt at Mara's Birth

The cartel pricing policies are pushed today by many coupe owners including all E36/8 coupes – Z3 and M. Many not even knowing the true history. One of the most ardent promoters of the cartel philosophy is “Z3Couper” (Jeremy) who owns www.coupecartel.com. You may have noticed his silver coupe he sold last fall for $17,750 still posted on AutoTrader at the cartel price of $60,000. He only recently formally joined the cartel with the purchase of a beautiful 2002 Laguna Seca Blue coupe, but that hasn’t kept him from quickly rising through the ranks. He uses his cartel site for vile deeds like designing beautiful M Coupe t-shirts and wall vinyls for the coupe community. One of which I wore recently when my daughter was born (thought she should be introduced to the coupe early). He’s currently offering a cool “Coupe Cartel” vinyl sticker. Check it out:

Coupe Cartel Sticker

Coupe Cartel Vinyl Sticker

Am I Truly a Victim?

Having seen the Colorado coupe in person, I would be hard-pressed to say it’s worth much less than asking. I will say it will take the right type of buyer. One who is willing to pay the same type of money for a coupe as he could also get a late model Porsche 996 Turbo, Lotus Esprit, Lotus Exige, C6 Corvette Z06 or even some Ferrari F355s. I would be that type of buyer…if I had the cash. I think the coupe will age better than some, is more practical than others, cheaper to maintain than most, and can be just as fun to drive.

Despite it’s very suspicious price of $59,995, I have seen no evidence of collusion in the price of he M Coupe listed in California. The seller also owns a Cosmos Black over Imola Red S52 coupe that he daily drives. The car listed is his fun car and I think he’s only listing it for the price he’d be willing to let it go for.

And that’s the real story of the Coupe Cartel. Obviously no collusion has ever happened, it’s just that very few people are willing to leave the cartel once they own a coupe. $60k may not be what their car is worth or what they could realistically be able to sell their car for, but it is what their car is worth to them. I can’t hold that against them. I’ve heard of coupe owners insuring their cars for as much as $100k just because that’s the consolation they would need should something happen to their prized coupes, and more than one has said his kids can try to pry his coupe out of his cold, dead hands. I, for one, know I will one day be a proud member of the Coupe Cartel.

So if you ever run into a high-priced coupe and hear it referred to as “cartel pricing”. You now know what they mean.

I’d like to thank “JoshS”, one of the very first coupe owners, for being my not so confidential source.

Categories: My Search Tags: ,

My Unicorn

May 4th, 2010 Comments off

While I’ve looked at a lot of cars over the years and have always stayed faithful to my initial search to find a steel gray with imola red interior M Coupe, there is one car that may make me stray.  No, not one color combination, one car.  That’s why it’s called a “unicorn”.  It’s a fabled creature that you know is out there somewhere, but the chances of seeing it are slim to none.  My unicorn is the one and only 2002 alpine white over imola red coupe that just so happens to be a sunroof-delete.

After seeing an M Roadster in this color combination on Ebay a few years ago, I was intrigued.  There were seven coupes sold in this color combination.  Five of them are S52 cars, one was built in 2001, and the last is VIN 5UMCN93422LK61273.  If anyone knows any information about this car (or any of the others), I’d be curious.  I am far from having the money to buy a car that’s not for sale but to me it’s a cool part of coupe history, and I’m always hopeful when I seen an alpine white S54 come up for sale.

What’s your unicorn?

Categories: My Search Tags:

My Perfect M Coupe

April 30th, 2010 Comments off
M Coupe at Red Rocks

Glenn’s M Coupe at Red Rocks

The 1999-2002 M Coupe is one of the most polarizing designs ever released by BMW.  Both M Coupe lovers and haters will boast or disparage that it was designed by engineers not stylists.  With nicknames like “Clown Shoe”, “Breadvan”, and “Elf Hearse” even the most serious M Coupe owner has to have a sense of humor.   While it has many detractors styling-wise, you would be hard-pressed to find one complaining about the drive.

I, for one, was immediately taken by the design when it was shown at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show.  It was purposeful and curvy, striking yet classic, and caught my eye like few designs ever have before.  Thirteen years later I think it has stood the test of time like few others.  The M Coupe is styled so uniquely and without any of the design trends of its era that it looks just as modern today as it did then.  When I find my perfect M Coupe, I don’t plan on getting rid of it through any means other than my will.  I know because of its uniqueness, it will still be looking good many years in the future.

In early 2001, a guidance counselor at my high school purchased a silver 2001 Z3 Coupe.  It wasn’t an M, but still had all the curves I’d come to love.  Each day driving up to the parking lot, I would look to see if it was there and would park accordingly.  I always looked for excuses to walk by it.  I had a chance to talk to Mr. Graham one day after track practice and he was surprised that I knew everything about his car.  He promised one day he would let me drive it.  Months later, when the weather improved, I got my chance.  At the time, the only manual transmission I had ever driven was my grandpa’s pickup through an Iowa cornfield.  In the days leading up to the “big day” I drove several of my friends cars just to refresh my skills, so I wouldn’t embarrass myself in the coupe.  Well, it didn’t drive like my grandpa’s truck, nor any of my friends’ cars.  While my friends Geo Metro took a firm right foot just to get it up and moving, I had to be light on the gas pedal in the coupe.  I successfully pulled out of the school parking lot without an embarrassing stall.  I turned on to the country road that ran away from the school looking for some wide open spaces.  I babied the car for a while until we came to the end of the road and turned around.  Then Mr. Graham told me to stop babying it and punch it.  That was when I decided I had to have one someday.

The Denver Auto Show in March 2001 introduced me to the color Steel Gray that was offered starting in 2001.  While I liked the silver on Mr. Grahams’ car, Steel Gray was a much deeper color. It was also going to be more rare as it was only offered for two years.  The 2001 cars also brought the 315hp S54 engine from the E46 M3.  1999 and 2000 cars have the 240hp S52 engine from the E36 M3.  The topper was the display car’s black and Imola Red two-tone interior.  I knew then I had found my dream car.  While some might argue such an eye-catching car deserves an eye-catching color like Phoenix Yellow or Laguna Seca Blue, when I’m in the purchase for the long haul, I want a color I’m not going to get tired of.  The excitement is in the design itself and the beautiful Imola Red interior.

M Coupe Show Car

Since that time over 9 years ago, I’ve been in pursuit of this color combination.  I always knew this color combination would be a challenge to find, only recently did I learn just how hard it might be.  There are only 23 ever sold in North America in these colors.  At this time, I’ve only seen four come up for sale. The first came up for sale while I was still in college and did not have the funds, nor the garage to store it in.  The next popped up the day my son was born.  Yes, I was looking for M Coupes from my wife’s hospital room…they were both sleeping.  While it was a decent price, it was in Ohio.  Some things will always be more important than any car, so I let it go in order to spend that important time with my family.  It was soon sold.  The next was listed on Christmas Eve 2009.  At first I thought God had given me the perfect Christmas gift.  Not only was it my colors, it had 18,000 miles and is a sunroof-delete (1 of only 2).  The problem came when I saw the price…$59,995.  A month later, the other Steel Gray/Imola sunroof-delete coupe came on the market, and this one was only 50 miles away.  It seemed meant to be.  It only had 7,000 miles and was showroom stock.  And while a relative bargain, was priced at $49,500.  It’s just my luck that the only two cars I had seen in years in the color combination I had pursued were priced $15k and $25k more than any other M Coupe currently for sale (but worth every penny).  Both are still for sale, so visit my sponsors and help me buy one.

Categories: My Search Tags: , ,