OK Beemer: They Don’t Make ‘Em Like the Used To

Money buys happiness, but buying BMWs with that money seems to inversely correlate.

The apprehensive tone you might be sensing isn’t necessarily founded. We’ve found that our E30, with its husky and handsome M42, has been a durable combination of giddy-up and mostly go. A fortune in grins. We’re quite spoiled. Six successful rounds of loading it up with tires, tools, tunes, and snacks is a tough act to follow. Without a single hiccup attributable to the quality of the car’s innards, we hauled everything back and forth, a 90-mile round trip, to the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet. Nearly in stride, we’d strap the 200 tread wear Rivals on her like combat boots. It ate asphalt like the Rock Biter from The NeverEnding Story. It whined only when the engine tumbled past 7,000 RPM and the complaints of the belts could no longer be ignored. The candy-striped chicanes were the snacks, and snacks are as we said, a tough act to follow.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Cruz

But then there’s our new E82. It sits quietly in the driveway. Squatting, curiously, like an old and tired mutt that never knew a name. It doesn’t respond to a name anyhow. Not because it couldn’t if it were taught. Old dogs and new tricks are classic combinations if you give them quality homes within which to learn those tricks. It’s a 2008 BMW 135i in name only. While we might speak highly of our own ambition and nearly use words like “hope”, the word “E30” is always accompanied by the distant roars of engines. Use it in an equation as if it were a constant, and have mathematical proof of its reliability! Will the E82 ever know its own name? Will it come when it’s called?

So far, it pisses coolant and practically begged for a new battery. While some of us are partial to body work, your author is not, but even I am appalled at the state of the car’s aesthetic. Painted headlights, “carbon fiber” accents, and a sticky interior are all items that will be addressed with immediacy. But the potential is what keeps us from cursing it altogether and in our opinion, there is no truer spiritual successor to the E30 than this car.

A Quick Leder-History

The E8x series of BMWs isn’t too far removed from the E30. With all the generations of car all lined up in a cute row you might think differently. But in years, it’s only technically ten. Enough time had passed for the last E30s, something along the lines of 1995 model-year estates and cabriolets, that they might be allowed to sleep over at their friend’s houses, but not long enough to hit puberty. They might even have gotten along with their younger, stouter, and more powerful sibling. The first publicly consumable iteration was the E87 hatchback, released as a 2005 model-year car. A long awaited return to driving purity came with the E82 coupe and it’s litany of power-plant opportunities up to and including the inline-six, 3.0 liter, 335 HP laden 1M. Ours rests comfortably, without anxiety, but a bit of excitement, just below that (given some caveats for known reliability issues with the N54 engine). It’s considerably heavier than the E30, a consequence of modernity, but is still dwarfed by the nominal successor 3-series E90s. You win some, you lose some.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Cruz

So you ask, with all of that excitement, why the distant stares and uninvited grunts? Well, ours at least runs and that’s as much as we can say about it now. Day-dreaming aside, it’s gone unmodified in reality for the few weeks it’s held down its corner of the driveway. Our well-sorted E30, that won us more than a few t-shirts this past summer, is in hibernation. And after years of hard parking, it deserves at least another summer of cardio. Of literally putting fuel in the tank and not being taken for granted. It’s still relatively inexpensive to run. Throwing digital dollars at fuel and sign-ups for the E30 is a pleasure considering the theoretical costs we’ve calculated for the E82 just to make it streetable. Tires, an oil change, brake fluid flush, and pads alone will double our initial investment. “That sounds like a ‘you’ problem”, we say to our future selves. The rewards will hopefully be more t-shirts.

Keep an eye out here for our misadventure with this new car. The goal is to document its progress thoroughly with the energy we would give to a new born and not necessarily a second or third-born. To say, “we’re not gonna fuck this up like our parents did”. You’ll be glad to know that at present, none of us are parents, except for to that of several cats, a lizard, an eel, and a very, very large dog.

Thanks for reading! And don’t forget to follow us here on the blog, Instagram @rye30racing, and Facebook @rye30racing. If you’ve read this far and you reside in the United States, give us a follow on Instagram and then DM us an address and we’ll send you two free 4″ RYE30Racing stickers! We appreciate your support! See a picture of the stickers below.

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We’ll be racing plenty over the summer so we can bring you more high quality content like you read above. Our partnership with Diagonalt is still new and exciting, like that of a new romantic relationship, so check out Diagonalt.com for classic BMW prints and coasters (16% off using code “RYE30” at checkout) and calendars for the new year.

Featured image courtesy of Kevin Cruz