So when I got my M3 back in July of 2014, I figured I would be done car shopping for awhile. I mean I fulfilled the dream of getting an M3, I don’t need another car. Then in October, I got a significant pay cut thanks to the oil market. The reaction I had was oh shit I need to pay off this car ASAP.
Fast forward to June of 2015, and I’m about 10k away from paying off the M3. At this time I was a field engineer and my company had two schools for us FEs to attend to learn more about our jobs. I’ve talked about the first school which was in Tyumen Russia; it was after this school I bought my M3. Well instead of being sent to Abu Dhabi, like I was originally scheduled for, I was Tulsa Oklahoma for six weeks. At this time, I had a choice of cars to bring, I could either drive the 1997 Ford Explorer or I could take the M3. Whatever, I’ll put the miles on the M3, I’m living in Corpus Christi at the time, and it’s a 700 mile drive to Tulsa.
The M3 makes the drive no problem to Tulsa. It was summer in Texas, aka hot as hell. Had the AC blasting and had the cruise at 84 thanks to the 75 mph speed limits and nothing, preforms excellently. One of the other engineers in my class is actually on another shift in my crew, so we meet in Dallas for lunch and to drive the rest of the way there. We had planned this so we’d get to room together when we got to the training complex. It worked perfectly, when we got to Tulsa we got assigned an apartment together. While I had some issues with how he did somethings in the field, mainly running chemicals, that’s water under the bridge and since he’s also a car guy we get along pretty great.
So I maintained some friendships I made during my eight weeks in Russia. One of those was with the Turkish girl in the class; she actually worked in my district and despite living 130 miles apart and working different schedules, we’d hang out a decent amount. Two of the guys I went to Russia with, a guy from Australia and a guy from Kazakhstan were in the school in Oklahoma. They’re also friends with this girl and we decide we should all meet up again in Dallas, which is half way between San Antonio, where she lives, and Tulsa, where we are. Naturally since the M3 is the only car we have, obviously we’re taking that to Dallas.
It does fine on the way to and from Dallas. Well I lost my tow front hook cover somehow in Dallas. I came out from breakfast and I see my car missing the tow hook cover and I’m devastated, I know this is going to be expensive because BMW but whatever, I work in oil. So it’s Monday and I’m driving to BMW and all of a sudden my car had no power and the dashboard is light up like a Christmas tree. Fuck. I limp it to BMW of Tulsa. I get there and the service guy that comes to meet me is like what’s wrong, and I’m like not sure I just know it’s broken, oh I think I also need new rear tires. He looks at them and is like shit, yeah you do.
Surprise, it’s a throttle position actuator; apparently my thermostat was also bad. $3750 later I’ve got my car back. I wasn’t too mad about the money, I knew when I got the car it was going to be expensive, I was more upset that the $3750 didn’t go toward paying it off, oh well.
So around this time I had also decided I was going to move to San Antonio as I really did not like Corpus Christi. Actually I hated that city and was miserable there. Since I spent like half of my off time in San Antonio anyways it made sense. The only problem was I was based out of Alice, meaning I would have to drive to and from Alice at the beginning and end of my hitch. This was a two hour drive, not really fun in the Explorer, and since I had to leave the car out for six days at a time, I didn’t really want drive the M3, so I got the idea to upgrade the Explorer once I paid off the M3.
So earlier in the year, I was doing some unnecessary car shopping and I discovered that you could get a C63 AMG for under 30k. So I could have two 400+ hp small German sedans? I’m listening. Well, that didn’t really make any fiscal sense, plus something that doesn’t get above 20 mpg on the highway isn’t what I need. I should get something more responsible and something that didn’t have M3 running costs.
While in Tulsa, I start doing some causal car shopping for a second car to replace my Explorer. I tell my roommate/co-worker that I want a “beater Benz” as it would replace my 1997 Explorer. A C63 would be nice, but too expensive, I’m thinking something like a C300. I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted a Benz. This was reenforced when I had a rental Mercedes in Europe for 10 days.
I never really decide on the car I want to get to replace the Explorer. Part of me thinks I should get another BMW as I’ll be comfortable with all the control interfaces, another part of my thinks I should get a Benz as it’ll be something different. It’s early October 2015, and I’m in San Antonio working in the office as my crew had been dropped by our client in September and they didn’t really have anything to do right then, so they sent me to the office to learn more about operations.
At this time, I’m leaning toward a 335d to replace my explorer. I’m in my hotel room, I was still a couple weeks away from moving to San Antonio, and I’m about to go look at cheap 335d when I get a call from my boss. He tells me I’m getting three weeks of unpaid furlough, along with the rest of my crew, and that I need to be at the meeting in Alice tomorrow at 10 AM.
I don’t go look at the 335d, I pack my things and check out of my hotel room and begin the drive back to Corpus Christi. It began as any other drive, uneventful. The speed limit on I-37, the road between San Antonio and Corpus, is 75 mph. The Explorer doesn’t really like speeds above 82 mph, so I’ve got the cruise set at 82 mph. Just because the speed limit is 75, doesn’t mean people actually do that. I encounter some traffic and am forced to slow down. Once I’m past the traffic, I reengage my cruise control. The car drops a gear and starts to accelerate back to my cruising speed. It gets to about 77 mph around 4k RPM and something goes wrong. It goes to idle and then dies. Fuck. I put it into neutral and pull over to the shoulder. I get it restarted before it coasts to a stop, but it doesn’t stay running, I eventually coast to a stop. Fuck fuck fuck.
I try to restart the car, the engine turns over but it won’t start. I pop the hood, I’ve got no tools and there isn’t anything obviously wrong. I’ve had this car for 9.5 years and it’s had a bunch of sensor problems, so I assume it’s a sensor. I’m on the hard shoulder on I-37, I have no one I can contact to come help me, what the fuck am I going to do. Fuck it, maybe it’ll somehow start. Well I keep trying. It will start and stay running for all of 2 seconds before it dies. The engine won’t accept any input from the throttle pedal. I keep trying. All of a sudden it starts and then revs when I manipulate the throttle pedal. We’re back in business; I put it in drive and limp the motherfucker back to Corpus Christi. I can’t trust this thing to get me back in forth to from Alice to San Antonio.
The next day, I have to be at our yard in Alice for the meeting, while I hate driving the M3 to the yard, I don’t want to risk taking the explorer and not making it. Have the meeting and get three weeks furlough. I get back to my apartment in Corpus and call my parents, since I’m not working I book a plane ticket for Atlanta, I’m spending sometime with my parents. I flew out of San Antonio, and despite my issues with the explorer the other week, I drive it from Corpus to SAT without any issues.
Earlier in the year my dad had purchased a 135is, and since I hadn’t been home since March I hadn’t driven it yet. Of course he lets me drive it, it’s a great car and I get the idea in my head that I can live with a 1 series, it really isn’t too small.
Back when my dad was first looking at BMWs, I figured I’d join in on the fun. So I go to BMW of CC and I see this 2012 128i for 22k, that’s more than I want to spend but it’s worth a test drive. I test drive it and was surprised how well it actually drove. This was July. Well, car shopping on my parents porch in October, I come across the same 128i I test drove instead of being 22k, it’s now 16k. Given what had just happened to my Explorer and the fact the car was so reasonably priced and I was moving to San Antonio in a few days, I figured it was a perfect car.
Once I get back to Texas, I go to the dealer and buy the car. Two days later I move to San Antonio. I had some vacation scheduled for the end of October, so I fly back to Georgia. I worked a total of 1 day in October 2015, which is a stark contrast to October of 2014 when I think I had 2 days off during the entire month. Once my vacation ends, my company actually has a new client and things for me to do. We have a meeting in Alice on Monday morning, so I hop in the 1 series and make the drive.
My company was in the process of centralizing all operations in San Antonio, so all the prep work we did was in San Antonio. Since they were also in the process of combining all the south Texas districts, they had put some guys from San Antonio on my crew. This worked out perfectly as instead of having to drive to Alice to go to the field, I’d be able to come out of San Antonio. The 128i would be seeing a lot less highway miles than I thought.
In early 2016 I suffered from pretty severe depression, there was a two week period where I couldn’t eat more than one meal in a day. I also temporarily quit drinking. As a result, I lost probably around 20 lbs. The good news was all my clothes fit so much better. One thing that cheered me up was cars. I remember driving around in the M3 and being super depressed, I guess I gave it too much throttle in the corner and next thing I know, I’m sideways power sliding. For those few seconds I was so happy, nothing else mattered. It was almost like my car was like quit being sad, cheer up. I was also doing some car shopping, and since I didn’t need the 128i as a highway car maybe I should get something else.
At the end of January, my crew got dropped by anther client. The client actually shut down all of their Eagle Ford operations as a result of oil prices I’ve been through this before, I’ll survive. Well, this time my crew got split up and I got put on a different crew, after another brief stint in the office.
In mid March, I’m browsing Autotrader and I see this C63 AMG. It’s 26k and at BMW of San Antonio. Damn that’s tempting; I’m gonna go look at this. So on one of my days off I drive over to BMW and express interest in the C63, so one of the sales people gets the keys and we take it for a test drive. Apparently someone else had already made an appointment to see the car later in the same day. I have no idea the validity of the claim, she also tells me that one time they had 5 people interested in the same car and who ever could get financed first would get it. In my mind that sounds so false, so I tell her that if I really like the car that much I’ll just write a check.
After a short test drive, I’m impressed. Despite the fact the interior in kinda falling apart, both bumpers wearing parking battle scars, and it’s done 85k miles, I still want it. This is where the logical side of my brain kicks in and is like, hey you know this is what’s known as a bad idea, right? I decide that yeah, I’m gonna pass.
I can’t get it out of my mind. I could have an M3 AND an AMG. This might be a bad idea, but I really want it. Plus I had the money, it wasn’t like it was that outrageous. I start looking into running costs. I was talking to one of my friends, who was telling me getting the AMG was a bad idea, and he asked if I had gotten the insurance quoted for it. When I told him that I had, he was like oh shit, you’re that serious. I really was. I know it’s a bad idea, but I want it. Not helping the matter was the fact that the dealer kept dropping the price of the car.
I’m back to work. The crew I’ve been on get some bad news, we’re getting dropped. I’ve been through this twice before it’ll all be alright.
It turned out that I was incorrect. Because I have no crew, I’ve just been chilling at home, thinking about that AMG and other things, trying to be rational and not just buy it. Since I have nothing else to do, I’m at coffee shop reading a book, one of my friends recommended I get out and do something besides sit in my apartment and drink, and I get a text from my boss. He wants me to come to the yard the next day for a “quick meeting”. I know this isn’t good, I’m probably not going to have a job at the end of the day, that much I know.
I was right, I got laid off. While it was the change I needed, I was pretty miserable working that job, it wasn’t what I wanted. The good news was that I didn’t have a new to me AMG. I’m glad I didn’t buy that AMG.
If you want to read about what happened to my 128i once I lost my job: