Apr 072010

This month my 1999 M3 turns 11. She is one of the last E36 M3s built, since production of the M3 coupe ended in April of 1999. She has her quirks, but she’s a great car built just before cars became computers on wheels. I share how I feel about her in this birthday post from two years ago.

She’s actually the second 1999 fern green M3 I’ve owned. The first one I purchased in April of 2002, with about 35K miles and in nice condition. I had the car for about a year, but then she was destroyed by Hurricane Isabel. I was traveling at the time, and had asked a friend to do me a favor and let me park the car in his complex. It had never flooded — until Isabel.Water got up around the door handles and totally destoyed the electrical system.

After much stress and haggling with State Farm, I got a fair settlement. I also ended up buying the car back from State Farm (now with a salvage title), and selling it to Scott Linton of Linton Motorsports. I didn’t make any money, but Scott wanted to turn her into a stock racer and that seemed a much better end than being cut up for parts or rusting away somewhere.

I toyed with going to the E46 M3, and drove a couple. They were impressive cars, but not as fun to drive and at the time it would have cost me about $10K plus the settlement to get a nice one. It just wasn’t worth it, and I decided to replace my lost M3 with as identical a car as possible.

It took a few months, but then there she was — in pristine condition with only 16K miles and at a Texas CarMax of all places. I lurked for a while, let the price come down some and then had her shipped to the store outside of Dulles. The car had more options and a lot less miles than my first one, so it all worked out. I’ve had her since November of 2003.

Over the years I’ve done some subtle mods like improved headlights, engine software, exhaust and a few other items. (Here’s my listing on the BMW M Registry site) It was time for a change, so I just swapped out the lip trunk spoiler for the BMW full spoiler. On tap for the next few weeks is changing the manual transmission fluid and reinforcing the rear shock mounts. Those projects should be grist for some good DIY posts.

Being two body styles old (E92 is the BMW nomenclature for the current M3) means that the E36 M3 is now fully depreciated. It can be a great bargain as a used car, though it does require maintenance to stay minty fresh. Not that I’m selling, of course. My 11 year old is a blast to drive, and I still find myself looking back as I walk away from her.

As long as I feel that way, I’ll be writing these birthday posts.

My first — may she still be winning races

New Spoiler 1

New Spoiler 2

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