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A Fortuitous Encounter

July 8th, 2013 Comments off

A great coupe story from Jeff who will hopefully soon be joining the Cartel.

BMW Z3 Coupe in Sterling Gray

I think my interest in BMWs first began back when I was in middle school.  One of my best friend’s dad had one of the first E65 745Li cars in I believe Space Grey.  About the same time I began spending a considerable amount of time over at their house I saw the 2004 cheesy action film “Taxi” which featured Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah in a souped up taxicab chasing an AC Schnitzered up 760Li being driven through the streets of NYC by Brazilian Victoria’s Secret models.  Though the girls of course were a hit with everyone, I was the only one out of all of my friends who was more interested in the V12 Bimmer than the mental taxi.

My friend’s dad was a cardiologist so he worked pretty weird hours but we occasionally were presented the opportunity to ride in his car, which often involved breaking land-speed records in our Ohio suburb to do something mundane like picking up Chinese food.

Skip ahead a few years.  Probably the second week of college I met one of my closest friends who happened to own (still does) a 97 Z3 1.9 automatic with the hard top.  An old car with a lawn mower engine, terrible transmission, and sticky gas pedal.  But I still love every chance I get to go someplace in it.  It feels truly fantastic sitting on the rear axle staring out at a football field’s worth of bulging hood.  Plus the styling which is so tasteful and classic BMW.

I was sold.  Clearly the perfect car for a young bachelor.  I can’t say exactly when I became fascinated with coupes, I had never seen one in person, but it was sometime between then and now.  They appealed to me mainly because of the originality and backstory of how they came to be.  Though I also loved how they prove that a 2 seater sports car can be somewhat practical.  A “hot hatch” that’s so much better than a hatchback could ever be.

A couple weeks ago I was on a family vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC.  It was mainly my uncle John’s family but since they were on the east coast (we now live in VA), my mother and I decided why not join?  One night at dinner I was sitting next to my cousin Andrew, who shares many of my interests, and we were talking about cars.  He was showing me pictures on his phone from a car show he had recently attended with his 4 year old son.  I started talking about my plans for buying a Z3 M Coupe after I finish college and get a job (only one year left!)  Knowing him, I wasn’t surprised when he knew exactly what I was talking about.  It did however throw me off a bit when he told me that his wife Heather’s younger brother Greg had just recently bought one.

At this point Andrew’s father in law Ken who was sitting across the table joined the conversation and the two of them began to describe the pretty bad experience that Greg had in buying the car.  Apparently he had done a pre-purchase inspection at a BMW dealership in the city where he bought the car and they had failed to disclose that the car was plagued with what I immediately recognized as the dreaded subframe failure issue.  Apparently he threatened the dealership with legal action at which point they began circulating internal emails to destroy any record of him having had the car inspected there.  How’s that for customer service?  Apparently one of these emails got sent to the wrong person who read back through the chain and decided to do Greg a favor by forwarding all of this back to him.

(This is all what my cousin was telling me anyway, I don’t know how much is true/inaccurate, and I’ve never met Greg.)

Hearing all of this I was still dumbfounded at the coincidence of the situation and couldn’t believe the story I was hearing.  Apparently the legal stuff didn’t go any further, but they continued to tell me about how he’s considering whether or not to go through with the Forbes fix.  Ken told me that he has had work done at an M specialist in Cincinnati who has been very helpful.  I said “oh, Enthusiast Auto?  They’re pretty well known among the coupe community” to which he replied “yep, I believe that’s the one.”  He then asked me “how do you know all of this about these cars?”  I replied “I’ve read the forums and done a lot of research, I’m pretty committed to buying one I just need to wait until I can afford one.”

Exactly at that moment, I turned to my right and a Gray Z3 coupe (must have been Sterling Gray) goes flying by on the road next to the restaurant patio where we were sitting.  (I’m pretty sure it was an M54 as it had the larger hatch trim/handle.)  I pointed and yelled “look there it is! This rare weird car we’re talking about!”  I kept staring until I couldn’t see it anymore and said “I don’t think I’ve seen one in person before” of course forgetting that there was a silver one with an ugly stripe parked out front of the Porsche dealership near my parents’ house briefly last winter.  Andrew laughed and said “well I guess it was meant to be, you HAVE to buy one now!”

The next night we went to a different place for dinner and ended up parking across from what I can only assume is the same car…that is of course unless Myrtle Beach is full of Sterling Gray M54 Z3 coupes with tinted windows.  I was beside myself with excitement, though I don’t think my mother, uncle, and aunt fully grasped the significance of the situation…victim of the Coupe Cartel anyone?  This time I was able to get a couple pictures.  Its hilarious seeing the scale in comparison with the SUVs surrounding it.

BMW Z3 Coupe in Sterling Gray

BMW Z3 Coupe in Sterling Gray

One day, hopefully in the somewhat near future, I’ll own one of these cars.  Until then I can only continue dreaming.

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“It’s about the car, not me”

May 28th, 2013 1 comment

Another great coupe story from Chris, who was one of the first people I talked to looking for a coupe after starting my site. I’m glad your long search finally paid off. I know exactly how you feel.

This is actually the 4th or 5th attempt I’m making at this “contribution”, only this time I will spare you the life story and the hyperbole; stating mostly facts as concisely as possible without too much sentiment or exaggeration….well, maybe a little of that, but bear with me.

Before I say anything else, let me say that the chance to talk about my experience on Jon’s website is one that I accept with humility and gratitude.

Odds are I probably couldn’t have found a coupe (or as easily as I did) without his help and years of hard work.  How a young man could maintain such a solid grasp on so many responsibilities AND dreams at the same time inspires me as much as it boggles my mind…and on top of that, he remains ever vigilant (seemingly around the clock!) guiding mopes like myself to the inevitable acquisition of such fascinating machinery.

Again Jon, I truly thank you.

BMW M Coupe

It’s a strange obsession, this car.
In pictures it may not look like much, but seeing one in person is something else….
The roofline is about as high as the wheels on a transport truck, the gas cap…so low you need to go down on one knee when filling up, the front of the car is long and low like a cruise missile, and the back end is completely savage… yet so inexplicably compelling that it almost hurts to look away from it.
Whats best about those dramatic looks was how unintentional they were….much of the cars appearance was merely a consequence of necessity, cost effectiveness, and ice cold engineering.

Aerodynamically, this car is a brick.
It doesn’t cut through wind resistance so much as it punches it in the face, knocks it down and then kicks it in the gooch a few times for good measure.   It guzzles gas, chews rubber, eats mustangs, craps out smart cars, and snarls like a mean little SOB as you hang on for dear life.
And not only is it badass, it’s adorable too!  Aside from the beetle, the Fiat 500 and a few other retro novelties, I can’t think of any other cars with enough character to warrant a pet name.

(I call mine “Otto” btw!)

Anyway, allow me to digress for a bit…
I’m not sure how this obsession starts for everyone out there, but for many I believe it begins with a picture, right?

BMW M CoupeIn my case it goes all the way back to 1998, close to graduating highschool, screwing around in the library, and flipping through an issue of Popular Science.
It was a little blurb in the corner of the page called “Huge Horsepower” and the article itself was grossly inaccurate.  There was mention of a 400bhp v8 (oh, if only) that was actually slated for the arrival of the new m5s.  And there was no mention of the pictured cars actual name either; I had so little to go on back then.
I remember how smitten I was by that shadowy little beast from Germany, but getting one seemed like such a pipe dream back then.

Between then and now so much has happened (a lot of it bad, to be truthful) but one day on the trusty ol’ MCBG I finally found a decently priced, locally owned m coupe by a gentleman who agreed to sell it to me.
Much to this mans credit he held on to that car, turned down other prospective buyers, and fixed it up with little more than a promise from my end.  And this really meant a LOT to me considering how many uh…. odious characters I ran into over the years in my pursuit of this rare little creature.

The day I finally picked it up is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life….if only for how nice everything turned out.  The previous night was fraught with lost sleep, nagging concerns, pessimism, and uncertainty.  In the morning the drive up was so dark and rainy: I thought the weather reflected my state of mind perfectly that day…

But let me tell you something….
By the time I got to the garage and saw the car, the clouds opened up, the sun shined down, the seller was terrific and friendly…everything went down like a small miracle from that point.
Even the woman who handled the transfer of ownership was a stone cold fox…of course she was just a bored young lady working at a job she didn’t care for very much, but on THAT day she was a gorgeous blonde valkyrie; lifting me from a dreary life and delivering me unto a waking dream, finally realized after so long.

(In all seriousness she was pretty hot, though.)

Nice as all this was, I will also remember the final moments the last owner had with his car.
I felt sad following him back to the lot where he would turn the car over to me.
One last stop sign…one final, sombre peelout before parting with a very cool car that I’m sure he’ll miss dearly in the days ahead.
When he got out and gave me the keys, he took out a camera and asked if my brother and I wanted to be in the photo.  I declined, told him to go ahead and just take a pic of the car by itself.

“Hey, it’s about the car, not me!” I said to him.

He chuckled/I grinned, we thanked one another, shook hands and then I went home in a mild state of disbelief on a wonderful sunny day.

BMW M Coupe - Popular Science

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Chasing Unicorns – The Z3 M Coupe

April 29th, 2013 Comments off

Neil recently purchased this coupe, but his coupe history is pretty epic. Read about it below. Thanks for sharing Neil and welcome (back) to the Coupe Cartel!

Originally posted at: discommon.com/2013/04/my-eleanor-the-z3-m-coupe/.

Neil with His New Coupe

It’s the tiniest of memories, but it’s still there. Mum and Dad sitting up in bed on holiday in the North of Scotland, still in PJ’s, eating bowls of cereal, unraveling The Sunday Times. It’s a big newspaper, The Sunday Times, but my dad and I fought over only one small section – Motoring.  Somehow it seemed like the paper always got folded in a different order…that, or we just were not smart enough to predict it.  I was unfolding section after section and probably got stuck with something worthless like The Style (I had none of that at all, that’s for sure).  My dad found it first, but instead of a victorious snort, a puzzled look came over his face. “Humphh… well then, what do we think THIS is? How do you like that, Sue? That looks like the golf clubs might even fit!” he said as he thrust an ad on the front page in front of her.

…Now I should pause to say that at the time my dad had his first real sports car – a 2.0 Liter Alfa Romeo GTV Twin Spark (to be precise).  I LOVED it, but I was seriously outgrowing the hopeless excuse for a back seat.  Meanwhile, my dad was outgrowing Alfa’s unique customer service that involved regularly finding dirty rags or indeed tools in the engine bay AFTER picking the car up from a service.

I grabbed the paper and it made an impression that I still remember.  In perfect side profile, a squat, low-slung, big-assed, shoe looking car was essentially being “served” across a desert by a tennis racket with the tag line along the lines of “Real cars are powered from the rear”.  I was sold at first look.  Sure it was awkward, why on earth was it a mini-wagon? But those hips and those muscles, this car was all business.

BMW M Coupe

I’m sure the memory has simplified itself over time, but as my dad and I sat looking at it, I swear I can remember just knowing that we were going to own it.  Dad just had that kind of cock-eyed look, with a hint of a grin.

My next memory of the car was sitting in the dealership explaining that I had to be part of this decision process and that in order to be involved, I should be allowed to pick the interior. Dad must have been drunk on excitement, because nobody seemed to mind when I picked the complete Imola Red interior. Funnily enough, I think it turned out to be one of dad’s favorite pieces of the car. The interior really was great looking.

From there, my love for the car only grew.  Dad traveled a lot and indeed often went to work before I even woke up. However, my room was by the garage, and my bed was up against the adjoining wall. I’d awaken to the garage door rolling up, wait 15 seconds for the clunk of the drivers door to open and then give a “dum, dada, dum dum” knock on the wall. Something my dad and I did for years back and forth as a father/son little “hello”.  But that wasn’t the best bit.  No no no.  Give it 5 seconds more and the door would thunk closed, only to be followed by the cold and raspy bark of that glorious 100 horsepower per litre straight six, coming alive in our tiny garage. My wall would shake and the pictures rattle as he pulled out to go about his day. That right there is how a passion for the internal combustion engine grows.

BMW M Coupe

Insurance in the UK is really tough for a “kid”, so I never really got to drive the Coupe on the road, but at weekends, dad would pick me up off the bus home from University at the end of a private road that ran the length of a driving range.  He’d then let me sit at the bottom of the road in the drivers seat, eying up my own personal runway and setting my best 0-80mph run up the hill every time. It was awesome…but far too short.

5 years into dad owning the still pristine car, I was 21 and getting really close to being able to convince my Mum that the still astronomical insurance on the car was now worth it to let me drive.  I felt like I had paid my dues, as my daily driver was a raspberry red Skoda Felicia 1.3i (strangely I still miss that thing).  Then the phone call came.

I was walking to class with by best friend and my dad rang. “Neil, I’ve got some bad news. Nobody is hurt, but the dealership wrecked the coupe.”

Z3_M_Coupe_Frontal_Crash-150x150Z3_M_Coupe_Front-150x150Z3_M_Coupe_Rear2-150x150Z3_M_Coupe_Rear_Crash-150x150

Wait what? How does that happen? They are the BMW dealership, they don’t wreck things!?  Well, it happened rather spectacularly.  While in for an inspection, one of the technicians was taking it for it’s MOT test and used 2nd gear a little too thoroughly going through a roundabout and ended up making out with an embankment and some trees. The front was hit, the back was hit, the sides were hit and I think he got the roof too.   The car was dead and I never drove her on the road. the Z3 M Coupe become my Unicorn, the beast I never tamed, never owned and was always just outside my reach.

Fast-forward 9 years of  watching classifieds and doing sensible things like buying a house. I finally found my unicorn and bought her. She’s all mine, is currently on a transporter from Atlanta, GA and I couldn’t bee more excited.

Now I have to tame it. To Be Continued.

My Imola Red S54 BMW Z3 M Coupe

My Imola Red S54 BMW Z3 M Coupe

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“Best Product We Ever Made”

April 3rd, 2013 Comments off

I get to hear lots of good coupe stories, so I thought I would start posting them in a new category. This first one is from Maurice who is currently looking to purchase back his original coupe as shown above.

When the car was about 6 months old, I drove it from Houston to Spartanburg (I went to college in Spartanburg and make the trip back frequently).  I was working for BMW in Houston at the time and stopped in Atlanta at the southern region headquarters to have lunch with some of the regional managers.  We drove to lunch in another car and when we were pulling back into parking lot afterwards, one of the BMW guys in the car spots my M Coupe and got as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.  He said “Where did that M Coupe come from?  Who drove that today?”  I raised my hand from the back seat and said it was mine.  We parked next to it and everyone had to get out and take a look at it.  One of the guys in the group said “I love these.  That’s the best product we ever made.”  I don’t think I would have gotten that much attention if I had pulled up in an M1.

If you have a good coupe story to share, send it to me at jon@mcoupebuyersguide.com.

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