Hopefully you don't mind if I wander a bit and talk about my other BMW. The 2002 has been on semi-daily driver duty while it waits for a big batch of parts from Rogerstii to get started on some basic maintenance.
I bought a tii fuel tank to replace mine, which is kinked from one of the Brass Rat's two rear end smacks. I'll refurb it on a rainy day and put it in when I go through my fueling system.
On Monday I dropped in to Mountain View SMOG Test Only Center to have my M3 tested. I had a good feeling when I saw the white E46 M3 parked in front and started taking notice of the stuff hung on the walls. I looked in the back and said, "I know that shape..."
I knew I was in good hands with Mike. His '74 has a half cage/roll hoop and sport seats - he says it's his track car. The M3 is his daily. The M3 passed with flying colors, and I have a new go-to SMOG guy.
The M3 has been very busy over the past week. It was doing daily driver duty to the office...
On Saturday it did a big 260-mile loop around essentially the entire Bay Area, attacking some windy new roads in Marin with my friend Jon's Euro 190 2.3-16.
Dropped in on a friend on the way home to encourage him along in his project...
Hit up the Golden Gate CCA cars and coffee event at SF Sports Cars
Wanted to check out this car but he was on the way out as we arrived:
Through it all the M3 never missed a beat. I rewarded it with a wash and new/old Formel steering wheel.
The next big update should be after the Brisbane Swap & Show in early May! I should have plenty of photos and hopefully some stories to share.
How embarrassing - I can't believe that my last update was in August! Things have been moving at 100 miles an hour since the last entry. Well, in my life at least. Not as much on the tii.
In September I joined in for a Bay Area 02 cars and coffee in Redwood City. Around the same time, I executed a few projects. I did a fluid change of the motor, transmission, and diff. I ditched the M-Tech style wheel in favor of a smaller-diameter Raid wheel. I was accelerating onto the 101 one evening in traffic, shifting 3-4 at 55mph or so when the entire shift arm came out in my hand. After a few moments of looking around and preparing to coast off to the shoulder while simultaneously frantically jamming the arm back down into the general vicinity of its mount, I managed to get it back into place enough to get home. This called for a shifter rebuild, which was done in late October with OE parts.
The car sat for a while as my attention was focused on the needs of my other cars. When I went to dust it off the night before the "not the 49 mile drive," I found that the clutch pedal went straight to the floor and the reservoir was empty. Dang.
I'd like to say that I fixed it right away, but instead my wife and I went to Japan on our delayed Honeymoon. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed Japan - amazing food, culture, scenery, people, infrastructure, technology - and as a car guy it has so many unique experiences to offer. Because my wife is wonderful she put up with a few automotive detours in the trip itinerary. Our second day in the country, we took a tricky subway-shinkansen-tour bus combination from Shinjuku to Twin Ring Motegi to see the final round of the Super GT championship. I played a lot of Gran Turismo growing up so this was bucket list stuff, and as an added bonus Honda's Collection Hall is right there too.
A couple of days later we took the highway bus from Shinjuku down to the Hakone region, where I rented an R34 GT-R (the legend that has always been forbidden fruit for US enthusiasts) for a day of touring the onsen and amazing hills. Seeing Mt. Fuji from the Izu Skyline was one of the finest experiences of my life.
My wife made the mistake of mentioning that Mazda does free corporate museum / plant tours in Hiroshima, so we spent a couple hours doing that. I highly recommend it, it's free but requires advance booking. I got to meet one of my absolute automotive heroes (THE LeMans winning 787B) and see the new Miata RF coupes running down the production line with the 124 Abarth Spiders.
More car photos from Japan here if you like.
It was just a couple busy weeks of work before the holidays, I went home and got to see my folks and drive my old Roundie. It's a lot of fun to drive them both within a short period of time, they're so different but also so similar at the same time. Both are a blast to drive.
After the new year I got caught up in (1) preparing my Type R for sale, and (2) fixing a nagging clutch issue with the M3 that made it undriveable. It wasn't until February that I finally wheeled the Brass Rat into the garage. I installed braided brake lines and bled the brakes a few times, charged the battery, plast-dipped the wheels black, and got it back on the road after a 4-month hiatus.
I've reinstalled the dog dishes on the wheels, but at the time of these photos I was planning to bleed the brakes again and had left them off.
With the car running again, my wife and I checked out the CCA's cars and coffee event down near Monterey where we met Gary and Mike, two extremely friendly '02 owners with beautiful cars and great stories to share. They gave me some encouraging feedback on the Brass Rat and got me fired up to keep making progress on the car. This week I ordered a host of parts for a tune up and some general refurb and improvement. I also signed up for the not-to-be-missed 02 Swap and Show in May! Progress coming soon, I'll try not to let my updates lapse for 6 months again...
I live in the Bay area, which means that two weekends ago was the highlight of my 2016 automotive schedule - Monterey car week. For the past three years I've gone to the historic races on Saturday and Sunday, but since this was BMW's 100th birthday I talked my dad into coming out and we added Friday's Legends of the Autobahn to the itinerary. Of course, I had kept this new car secret from my dad since purchase... I wanted to see the look on his face when I picked him up from the airport in this old thing. No photos this time, but all he could do was laugh and shake his head.
Needless to say, he's a fan. We woke up super early Friday morning and drove down to Legends, where I was displaying my M3. It's a driver, and under normal circumstances I wouldn't 'show' it at anything beyond cars and coffee type events, but they were keen on getting E30Ms for the 30th anniversary of the car, so I jumped in. I took quite a few photos that you can view here, below are some highlights.
Huge showing of E9s, 2002s, and E30 M3s. I've never seen so many significant BMWs in one place! I guess that is kind of the point. The show was excellent - met some really nice folks whose names I forgot, spoke with some of the BMW Classic reps and got a cool license plate frame, took notes from the fully-restored 02s. There were probably 50 Neue Klasse cars there, every variety - standard, tii, touring, convertible, targa, turbo - but no Ceylon! I guess it's rare after all.
As Legends wound down, my dad and I drove into Monterey to check out the Supercars on Cannery Row event. No doubt, there were some amazing cars in attendance, but it wasn't really my style of car event. It was packed to the gills, and a bit heavy on flat bills, instagram handles, vinyl wraps, and aspiring YouTube celebrities. The photos I was able to shoot around all the crowds are here, highlights below.
Saturday and Sunday were the real meat of the weekend, the historic races at Laguna Seca. In three years I've never even considered going to the Pebble Beach concours, paying $300 to see primped and polished one-offs sitting idly on the grass. The historic races are absolutely mind-blowing and BMW's presence made this year extra-special. I took a TON of photos, available here, below are my highlights.
Words and photos don't do it justice. Make plans now to attend next August. (but seriously, I think you do actually have to book a hotel almost a year in advance) My dad and I didn't get a hotel in the area, instead we drove the 1.5 hours back and forth each day. The Brass Rat was more than up to the task, and we had no issues. It was a great car for the event!
With a top- and bottom-side inspection complete, I feel that I have a pretty good idea of what the car needs in the near- and long-terms. Long term: just about everything on the body could use some attention. It's at least 5 distinct shades of gold, not to mention primer and brown in the back. Medium term: suspension bushings are crusty but don't show excessive play, motor smokes on overrun. Short term, the list looked more like this:
1. Strong fuel vapor smell in the cabin
2. Shift linkage/bushings completely shot
3. Speedometer non-functional
4. Gas gauge non-functional / dicey
5. Horn non-functional
6. License plate lamps non-functional / RH housing destroyed
7. Routine fluids / maintenance
The vapor smell was high-priority, as it made the car unbearable for more than 15 minutes of driving or so. There is no shortage of cracked rubber and potential leak paths, but I started with the easiest thing - the fuel fill elbow. It was fried.
The new one actually made a huge difference - my wife will now ride in the car with me. That's a win. Next up, while it's not on my list and not particularly important, I didn't like the AutoZone special cone filter. I tracked down an original intake on Craigslist in LA and had it shipped. Cool story: after the first couple of emails were exchanged behind the CL relay email service, the seller's next email came from his standard account with his email signature. It read "Jeff Kline - 2x Winner, 24 Hours of Daytona / 3x Winner, 12 Hours of Sebring" with a photo of a MkIV GT40 being hustled around a track. Seriously cool. We exchanged some emails, talking cars, and he sent me a photo of his old tii. Once again, these cars bring me in contact with awesome, passionate people. Anyway...
There are two vacuum connections on the OE intake that obviously weren't being used with the cone filter. The larger one goes to the valve cover, the smaller one seems to run to the firewall. Any tips on what that hooks up to? Next up, Jon and I went down the local Pick-N-Pull, hoping to score some parts for our E30s and the tii. This '75 Riviera car was fairly picked-over, but I was able to snag some bits and pieces... the bulb holder for the rear license plate light, the quarter vent glass mechanism (mine doesn't seem to be engaging correctly), odds and ends. I pulled a vintage Sanyo cassette deck from the Fiat parked adjacent and I'm working on getting that wired up.
The car came with a big, goofy Momo shift knob that was secured Frankenstein-style to the threaded shift rod with three grub screws. I swapped it for this nice NOS AMCO piece.
I didn't get a photo, but I purchased a new tail lamp housing lens from eBay and got it installed. I am still working on getting the wiring set up correctly, but at least it looks better for now. It seems that, with regularly driving, the fuel gauge has gotten its groove back and is working fairly reliably. I have 2 gallons in a jerry can on board just in case, next to the fire extinguisher... Oil, transmission, and diff fluid arrived in the mail this week and I will be doing that job just as soon as I have some free time. The speedometer issue is currently remedied by an iPhone mount running Waze, showing real-time speed (as well as traffic conditions and speed traps).
With the car made at least slightly prettier, it was ready for the lawns of Pebble Beach... okay, maybe the dirt general parking lot of Laguna Seca. 100 years of BMW celebration, in the next entry...
With my 02 history covered, and as much history as possible for the car covered, I'll start sharing my experiences with this car. The first weekend after purchasing the car I did a driveway photoshoot of the good, bad, and ugly. Some highlights...
I also went down to Canepa's Cars and Coffee with my friend Jon. His car was also BaT-featured-and-criticized, but like my car, it runs really well.
We got the car up on Jon's lift to do an alignment and have a look at the oily bits.
Underside looks solid, aside from the obvious rusted-out spare tire tray. Bushings are tight overall. I think I got a good one! Next entry - the first fixes, and tales from Monterey car week.
I've always derived pleasure from trying to learn more about my cars and where they've been. It puzzles me when people do not retain good records of their time with a car, or pass them along when they sell the car, or the buyer doesn't make an effort to obtain them. When I bought my Chamonix car, I spent some weeks tracking down the former owners and trying to put together the pieces to figure out what kind of life roundie had lived in the past. Thankfully the previous owner loved the car and kept detailed records - I was able to get in contact with the owner before him, a man named Anthony, who I email regularly with updates on the car. In return, he has shared stories of his time with the car and even provided some awesome period action shots from his ownership.
My M3 came to me through a coworker, though without the enthusiastic chain of ownership I experienced with my 2002. So far I have only small tidbits of information gleaned from registration records, the sparse mechanical records, and stamps in the maintenance books. It was sold new to Southern States BMW in Alabama, had its 1200-mile service at Tom Bush BMW in Florida, and had a valve adjustment at BMW of Honolulu in 2001. My coworker bought it from a guy in Canada, but it was stored in Pennsylvania, and now here it is in the SF bay area. I get some good reactions when I call some of these old dealers (if they still exist) and explain that I'm interested in whatever records they have... from the 1990s. Not the usual "my 340i needs an oil change" phone call for them.
When the Ceylon car came up for sale, I did what we all do in this day and age... I searched the VIN online. It brought me to the FAQ of course, where user Davo mentioned in the tii VIN tracking thread that it was his car and provided some detail. The only other hit was a month-old eBay listing for the car, which had been pulled shortly after posting. After doing some digging, it became clear that I purchased the car from a well-known BMW re-seller in the Bay Area, Evan Esterman of the so-called Bimmer Brothers. Evan provided Dave's phone number when I purchased the car, so I gave him a call.
Dave was able to tell me about his time with the car, and to answer a question I had about the eBay listing. In the eBay ad, Dave mentioned that the motor in the car was not original but that he had the numbers-matching block. When I'd asked Evan about it, he said he was not aware and not particularly interested in whether the motor in the car was original. It had been only about a month, but I pressed Dave to sell me the motor and he obliged. I drove up to Petaluma with a friend and retrieved the block, as well some other spare parts that Dave had on hand. From Dave I was able to learn more about the car, and importantly, get the name of the previous owner - a Jeff Beyer.
Dave told me a bit about Jeff - that he was working at Hardy & Beck when he sold him the car, and that the car was up in Eureka. Google was again my friend here, as I was able to find Jeff, working currently as a Master Tech at BMW Humboldt. I called the service department with another one of my weird questions. "Hello, I have a very old car that was once owned by one of your employees. Could you give him my contact info?" Jeff called me back within 15 minutes, and I was amazed that he remembered a huge amount of detail about the car. He was gracious enough to spend time answering some questions and describing how he had come to find the car. From the sounds of it, Jeff is always on the lookout for BMWs worth saving in the Eureka area and found this car "completely gutted", buying the car and all of its parts. In reality, he mostly had questions for me, as he had sold the car to Dave in that same state and didn't know what had become of the car. Jeff was really happy to hear from me, to know that this car lives on (if a bit ugly) and that it will remain on the road and involved in the local BMW community. I have Jeff's contact information and I am going to try my best to catch him at Legends of the Autobahn in Monterey on Friday.
I fear that the history dries up at this point - Jeff doesn't have any more leads for me, and both he and Dave suspect the car had been gutted by "tweakers" before it was recovered. Dave recalls that he once met someone who believes that the car was driven by a girl at a high school in Marin, but that doesn't give me much to go on. I'm not sad though; talking to Jeff made me realize that this car, at least as it exists in 2016, is really Dave's car. Dave rebuilt it and repaired it; the interior, originally black, he made brown; the motor, not original, he built and installed. He chose the suspension and assembled the trim. He sold the car to fund his drag racing project, but his son drives a '72tii and he would like to have another in the future.
The 2002 has charmed many drivers since it was produced 40 years ago. People like Dave and Steve, and Anthony, and my dad, and now me. The experience wouldn't be the same without the fantastic people and enthusiasm.
Next time - the car today, and what I'll be doing with it.
The departure of my '71 Chamonix left the M3 as the focus of my attention. I spent a year or so bringing the car back into fighting shape, as all of the rubber in the car was original, worn out and dry rotted. Every suspension bushing, engine mount, intake gasket, you name it. The car still has needs, but overall it's running very well and is driven often. It's pretty close to stock, with a chip, suspension, and wheels. There's a link to my progress thread on s14.net down in my signature if you want to see more.
Recently I moved house, and a bigger garage and driveway were key criteria. The upgrade from an extremely narrow 1-car garage to a 2-car garage and large driveway was just the excuse I needed to start considering another car. I found myself missing my old '02, and watching Craigslist daily for the right car to come along. I wanted a car that was decently close to stock, in good running order, preferably not pristine so that I could do some mild modifications and not feel guilty about it. I looked at a few normal 02s, as well as one Malaga tii that had decent cosmetics but was mechanically on death's doorstep.
On a Thursday three weeks ago, I found this Ceylon '73 tii on my local Craiglist. I wasn't able to see the car that weekend, but I watched along and told myself that I would call on Monday if the car was still available. To my horror, on Monday morning I found that the car had been posted to BringATrailer, exposing my local secret to an enormous audience. I called the seller, who had been inundated with calls from all over the country and had an agreement pending with a guy in Texas. By Thursday the car was still posted for sale, and I received a message from the seller - Texas guy flaked, want to see the car? That night I drove the car, which was true to the seller's claims - ugly, but mechanically sound - and on Friday I made an offer that was accepted. The thing that I found amazing was that, despite one week passing from initial posting to my test drive, with the car's national exposure on BaT, I was the first and only person to actually come out and see the car in person. I thought BaT was a magic sales elixir, but that was not the case this time.
I picked up the car on Saturday and, with a big smile on my face, started driving around town, picking up friends. I was having a blast until it stalled and would not restart - turns out the fuel gauge is dodgy. Whoops. Just add it to the to-do list...
With the car in my driveway, I started trying to learn more about the history of the car. More on that in the next entry.
Where to begin?
I like cars a lot. I design them as my occupation, and I work on and drive them as my hobby. I'm slowly building my skill set with mini-projects. My dad likes cars too, and though he's never been interested in the mechanical side of them, he brought me into his BMW passion from an early age. Once upon a time, before us kids, he had a 2002 that he loved.
A few years ago, when I decided to buy a running project car to start getting my hands dirty, the 02 was an obvious starting point. Reasonable prices for cars and parts; knowledgeable and passionate fan base; antique enough to be simple to work on but new enough to drive like a modern car. Without knowing exactly what I was doing, I watched the market for a few months before falling for a '71 Chamonix I found in Los Angeles. The longer version of the story is here, but my girlfriend and I flew down from San Francisco, bought the car, and drove it back up PCH to the city, where I was living. From the start, the car was an adventure. So much fun to drive, and with so much charm.
It was a great trip - it had a little bit of everything. We bombed down Mulholland and saw Jay Leno; stayed overnight in Morro Bay where the seals barked all night; got a push-start from a German family on vacation when the battery died ("Ve had to help, it iz a German car."). I also learned what that red charging light means, as the alternator died early in the journey and the car threw in the towel 5 short miles from home.
The car was pretty solid from the start - not perfect, but great driver quality - and after replacing the alternator I moved on to other small projects on the brakes, stereo, and a general tune-up. My girlfriend loved the car, and we participated in the great Bay Area 02 community events, the highlights being the "Not the 49-mile drive," Swap and Show at the Brisbane Marina, and some CCA events (Silver Rabbit Mystery Tour). While I had roundie I decided I wanted something "with horsepower," and bought my second BMW - a 2011 E90 M3. Manual transmission, cloth interior, no iDrive, no sunroof, competition package.
This was a strange and scary car. It was far more expensive than anything I'd bought before. It had a serious motor, serious brakes, and serious consequences if you tried to tap its performance on public roads. Third gear topped out at 105 MPH; it was a time bomb either for my safety, my wallet, or my license. I learned an important lesson with that car: I am the type of person who greatly prefers a "slow car fast" that can be wound out on the back roads and deliver fun at or around the speed limit. After about 6 months I replaced that car with a 1988 M3.
This was a good combination of cars. However, it was not to last. You see, early in my ownership of Roundie an idea had come in to my head, an idea that made so much sense that it could not be ignored. My dad would be turning 60 in April of 2015. He had visited and driven Roundie and enjoyed himself, reminiscing about his old car and talking about finding a car of his own. I knew that my father was too practical to actually go through with buying something, so I made the decision: I would surprise my dad with the car for his birthday. There were some tricky logistics for shipping a car cross-country to Atlanta and making sure he wouldn't find out, but the pieces fell into place and he had no idea what was coming.
The moment of surprise/total confusion:
First drive, with his original CCA badge from his old 02 on the grille:
Surprise! It was a big gift, but without getting too sappy I'll say that I owe my dad more than I could ever repay for all he's given me through the years. This was the end of my time with the car, which made me sad, but it was the start of my dad's time with the car. Roundie gets to live in a garage now, running around north Georgia on the weekends and making my dad smile. I'm also fortunate enough to get to revisit my old friend every time I go home to see my folks.
This was a long entry, but it is just the start. With my 2002 gone I focused time and energy on the M3, but I kept finding myself on Craigslist scouring for the right car to get back into the round-tail light game. And about a week ago, you could say that I struck gold...