Dozens of cheesy love-flicks over the years have taught us all that we most certainly have had a partner that we split with or lost, a decision we regret for years on end. I’m not saying this isn’t so, but this is a car blog...I’m saying who cares? However this concept, of regretting what was lost, I think most of us here have felt this way about a car or two. Those of us with souls, at least.
People that know me, consider me a “car junky”. They might say I have “Car ADD”. I wouldn’t say they are wrong either. I love cars, but I want to own lots of them. It’s not that I’m unhappy with what I’m in, but trying out new things, sitting in a different seat, feeling a different wheel...I love that sensation. In order to support this habit, I needed to check off a few prerequisites.
#1 - A good job. Cars aren’t free, and unless you are in the business of buying and selling them, it’s tough to make a “profit” when moving from one new car to the next as often as I do. Knock on wood, the job aspect has been reliable since I began this addiction many years ago.
#2 -A very understanding wife. Some might argue that having no wife is easier. They are probably correct, but I like having a companion and my two kids had to come out of someone’s vagina anyway. Once again, luck or something of the sort prevails, I’ve got a good one here and she’s generally ok with my wasting our hard-earned money on what many still consider as merely, appliances.
#3 - Last but not least, I need to be able to keep up an emotional “wall” of sorts toward my cars. It’s not that I can’t enjoy them. It’s not that I can’t even love them. I just can’t let them take hold. Because the harder they grab on, the more difficult it becomes to part with them. I’m not Jay Leno or Adam Carolla...I can’t keep a museum of cars and still be successful at step number 2...or maybe I could if I was better at step 1. But I digress...
You see, step 3 should be the easy one. After all, if I wasn’t satisfied with my job I could look for a new one, but that takes a lot of effort and risk. If my wife was preventing me from continuing on this path I suppose I could push her down the stairs, or start using tinder and have my profile pic be a car with a photo-shopped giant penis driving it down the street. That’s sure to land me an ideal wife, right?
But step 3 isn’t always easy. You can’t control how a car makes you feel. And sometimes...they sink their claws (errr gears?) into you in a way no man (or woman) can resist.
My first car didn’t do that to me. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my first car. Hell, it was a RACE CAR if you asked me. 5 speed manual. Custom 5-spoke 13” wheel covers. 2 liters of 1984 Toyota Camry hotness. Yeah, it was a good first car but far from something you could truly get too emotionally attached to.
But my next car...now that was something different all together. You see, my “dream” car in high school (well, my sort-of realistic dream car) was a BMW M3. E36 to be specific. I read (and kept) every magazine that praised it. I drooled over the boxy and aggressive, yet refined lines. I was amazed that it could run toe to toe with a Z28 in a straight line yet out-handle many exotics in the corners. My next car was NOT, however, an e36 M3. Are you kidding me? That was far too expensive. But my boss happened to have something close, and it was for sale. It almost looked the part. It almost went the part. And if I tried my hardest, I could almost afford it. My second car was a 1996 BMW 328is. Then only 5 years old, still looked amazing.
Was this the car that reeled me in? The car that made me its bitch? Unfortunately, no. Whenever I looked at the car I kept wishing it had M3 wheels. M3 bumpers. Whenever I drove the car I wished it had M3 power too. Not that I needed M3 power...the 328is proved to be too much car for this professional Camry racer. And just a few months after it was in my possession, I crashed it while driving like a moron.
Although admittedly not my soul mate, I was still quite devastated. Not only had I ruined a beautiful piece of machinery, I had no idea how I’d ever be able to get something that nice again. I felt as though I didn’t deserve to, like my car karma was somehow out of balance. So I picked up another favorite vehicle from high school, but one with more humble underpinnings. A 1998 Acura Integra GSR.
The integra was a good car choice at the time. Still fun, kinda fast, but pretty damn hard to oversteer and spin into resulting walls with...heh. I learned how to work on cars while owning this vehicle. Prior to that I assumed it was just too hard for this IT guy to do. But I installed coil overs, bought rims, an intake...then exhaust, sway bars, even a header. I may have been the first person to like bronze wheels. You can thank me for that.
The end result was a fantastic driving car and (at least in my opinion), one that looked pretty great too. But it didn’t sink it’s teeth in. I knew I couldn’t be monogamous with this one. For one, I hated the attention a “Honda” got from ricers, police, etc. I hated worrying about my car being stolen while I went to the movies. But most of all, I hated that it wasn’t a rear-wheel-drive BMW.
And sure enough, step 1 started getting better. I received a promotion and a raise that I felt would allow me to scrape enough cash to afford an e36 M3, the insurance, gas, and [hopefully] any maintenance or issues it may have down the road. So I set off to find the perfect m3.
When I found it, I knew it was right. Only 500 miles from me, 28,000 on the clock, perfect arctic silver over dove grey. This 1998 m3 was that dream car I had been longing for, and with a few phone calls, signatures, and a whole lot of adrenaline pumping through my veins, she was mine.
I had never treated a car the way I treated this m3. I treated her to oil changes like we were on a date at a 5 star restaurant and picked out only the finest of wines. I developed an appreciation for expensive waxes and sealants, and spent a lot of my spare time buffing and polishing that metallic coat. I researched common failure items, like rear shock mounts and transmission bushings, and replaced everything with better, stronger parts...nothing but the best for her.
There were other modifications too, but I felt they were all tasteful. Koni shocks and some lowering springs. Black grills. Improved lighting. A splitter, etc.
I also met a lot of really great people (many of whom I’m still great friends with) via car clubs and forums, all during ownership of this car. I drove this car to work each and every day, rain or shine, despite having free public transportation passes provided by my company, also despite having to pay to park each day, downtown.
But how could I NOT drive this car? The engine sounded fantastic, the suspension soaked up the worst of the bumps but was stiff enough to let you have a blast. The seats were comfy and everything was in just the right place...I had a few corners that I regularly drifted on my commute because FUCK IT I’M DRIVING AN M3.
This car had a hold of me the way no other car had before.
But I cheated on her. I cheated on her with my wife and now she was pregnant. Knowing you are about to have a child rewires your brain. It makes you do stupid things. Make rash decisions. I decided that a 2 door sports coupe wasn’t going to be an appropriate car for me to have with an infant. Never mind that my wife had a perfectly appropriate car, I too would need something baby-riffic. Right? That’s what I thought, at least.
And that’s when I started down the path of regret. I looked at sensible 4 door cars. I looked at 4 door trucks. Thankfully, I ended up at a Subaru dealer and picked up a Forester XT, which ultimately ended up damn cool, and fun, but this story isn’t about the Forester, it’s about the M3 that I lost.
A few months after I sold the M3, the new owner totaled the car. He essentially did to me, what I had done to my ex-bosses 328is. All those years of treating her like a queen and waxing each body part to perfection. All those expensive oil changes and fancy parts. None of that mattered anymore. She was gone.
And that’s the story of my car that got away. I’ve had many more since this one and none have stolen my heart in the same way. Maybe none can anymore. Because ever since I let go of this M3, I haven’t let any other car in. This was the source of my car-motional wall, so to speak.