The Search, Purchase, and First Impressions of the M3

The Search: April 2, 2002

After searching on the Internet for several weeks for a '95 Daytona Violet BMW M3 with black leather, I only came across three of them.  Apparently, the violet/black combo is kinda rare.  I found plenty with gray interior, but personally I don't like the "gray" interior's 4-tone appearance (white seats? no thanks), so black was the only way to go for me.   Of the three violet/black M3's that I found, one had already sold, and the other had too many miles (over 100K), so the one I end up getting was, ironically, the FIRST one I found online, with only 69,800 miles, at a small Audi/VW service center and used car dealership in Victor, NY (just outside of Rochester).

I posted a message to the E36M3 e-mail list to see if anyone that lived near Rochester would go take some digital pictures of the car and test drive it for me.  A very kind man, Bill Bauman, graciously took some great pics of the car (they're the ones at the bottom of the photos page), test drove, and reported back to me to let me know that the car was in great condition, so I felt like this one was "The One".

The Purchase: April 12, 2002

After talking with the dealer over price and getting a loan from the bank, I made arrangements to fly up to Rochester to pick up the car and drive it home.  I e-mailed Bill to let him know that I was getting the car he looked at for me, and to tell him thanks, and he replied and told me that he'd be happy to pick me up at the airport and take me to Victor which was a 20 minute drive! (if you're reading this, Bill, thanks again! )

I flew up on a Thursday, stayed the night at a hotel in Victor, and picked the car up on Friday morning, 4/12/2002.  The car had a few more paint chips and surface scratches than I'd expected (nothing some touch-up paint and a good polish/wax job wouldn't take care of), but I still would've wanted the car even if I'd been able to see it in person before making the decision to buy it, so I wasn't disappointed at all.  Besides, the interior was absolutely immaculate, so that definitely made up for any other minor flaws the car had.  The car still had the factory cassette stereo in it, so I purchased a slightly used Alpine CD player and brought it with me on the plane and installed it at the dealership before heading out on the road.  When Bill originally looked at the car for me, he told me that the hood emblem needed to be replaced, so I brought a new emblem with me and installed that before heading out too.   The trip home took two days of 12 hours driving each day (1600 miles total), but it drove beautifully and it was totally worth it to get my dream car.

Once I got the car home I had a chance to go over everything with a fine toothed comb.  I spent a full day touching up all the paint chips and polishing and waxing the car, and it looks even more beautiful than it did when I first picked it up.  However, I did notice that one of the wheel lips was bent, but I've had experience with fixing those and was able to fix it just fine (I also replaced all four center caps, as one was looking pretty bad).

First Impressions: April 22, 2002

Let me just say: this car handles awesome! No wonder BMW's slogan is "The Ultimate Driving Machine"!

In comparison, it handles JUST as good, with a totally stock suspension, as my Mustang did on street tires with it's highly modified autocross suspension!  There is more body roll when compared to the Mustang (the Mustang had huge front and rear anti-sway bars), but it handles just as good.  The M3 sits 1.2 inches lower than a regular 3-series BMW, so it looks pretty good at stock ride height and the ride quality is perfect (firm, but not harsh).  I'm probably just going to install some good struts/shocks and run it in Stock Class for a few years before going crazy with suspension upgrades.

My first modification will probably be the addition of smoked front parking, side marker, and rear taillight lenses.  I think the smoked lenses with the dark purple will give the car a meaner and stealthier look than if I went with the common clear lenses.  The next thing will be some BBS wheels for the street (I'll use my factory wheels with racing tires for autocrossing).  I'm still trying to decide on whether to install a rear wing or just leave it alone.