My interest in cars was latent for the first 30 years of my life. I skirted around it – as a kid, my favorite toys were Hot Wheels and R/C cars (remember this?), and I told my 4th grade math teacher that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer when I grew up. My dad always talked about his coworker’s (E30) BMW that he drove once, and how “you could really feel the road”, but he was too practical to buy one and drove boring Subarus and Toyotas instead. My friends were into music and the arts, and so cars were considered mostly a “bro” thing in my circle. Cars were so out of my focus that when my parents bought me a neighbor’s cheap 5-speed VW Passat in late high school, even though I enjoyed driving it, I didn’t really appreciate how much I enjoyed it. It was relegated to the part of my mind that any other appliance would be, and I complained when it cost $600 to replace the brakes at a mechanic.
But it was always there. I ended up going to school for Mechanical Engineering at a school with a lot of wealthy kids (not me), and I had a friend with an E30, E36, and a souped-up WRX that he took me for a fun ride in. I remember feeling the tingle in the back of my brain then, but other things stole my focus at that time in my life. I dropped out of school, did a stint selling phones at Best Buy, and embraced Technology as my passion. I was always good with computers, so it made sense. I went back to school in Philadelphia, got my degree in Management Information Systems, and lived without a car for 10 years. I was happy to not have a car payment while I paid off student loans.
Then… a few things happened at the same time. In short: I paid off my loans, built some transformational software products at work, got massive raises, started playing Forza during COVID, and I started thinking about getting a car. My girlfriend’s brother (“Colby”) happened to be really into BMWs, mostly fixing up E46s… and that’s when it started. When I got into Colby’s E46, a dormant flame just lit inside me. I discovered the online forums like e46fanatics, and the more I read, the more the flame burned. For months, I spent nearly every waking hour reading about and looking at cars. I finally found a 6-speed Mystic Blue E46 M3 coupe across the country in Las Vegas, and I decided to fly there, get it, and drive it back across the country.
I could wax poetic about that trip; put simply, it was the best experience of my entire life. When I got home, I took it for an HPDE at New Jersey Motorsports Park with the BMW car club – yet another phenomenal experience. I’ve driven it for almost 3 years now, and I’ve had to learn a lot. I bought a whole amateur shop’s worth of tools, learned how to properly get it up on jack stands (almost messed that up *really* badly), and gotten as far as taking off the airbox, cleaning the ICV, changing trans fluid, troubleshooting a rough idle by smoke testing… pretty much anything I can do at home, I’ve tackled it.