After 6 months of having the Cayman as the daily driver, the itch for another car came back and I started looking to check off another box on the automotive bucket list: an M car. Always loved the E39 body styling, probably since there was a Sterling Grey 540i in the house during high school. Around Christmas I was >< close to flying to New Mexico for a 2003 Titanium Silver one but when the owner went to turn it on one last time, he heard some weird noises from the engine.
Turned out the timing chain guides crapped out on him and ultimately ended up with a $7k repair bill. Bullet: dodged.
I ended up finding another 2003 in Seattle with 103k miles and in my preferred color. It's got an April 2003 build date so one of the last ones made. Went back & forth on the price since the PO bought it from a local dealer with no service records, but the Carfax had decent amount of details (e.g. a coolant flush was listed). I really wanted one with a more thorough history but after talking with the owner and him being only the 2nd one, decided to fly up on March 10th and buy it (pending a PPI) and do a fun road trip. Another friend flew up from San Francisco and helped me drive it down back to his place, then I was solo for the last leg of the trip.
So far it's been...eventful.
Here's the basic route:
I've been to Seattle a few times and Rainier's size never ceases to amaze me.
Rented a zippy Sentra and almost ran someone over with the throttle response in Sport mode. To the island!
Checked out the car for a while and went on a pretty long test drive. Overall the car's in good condition and in the past 2 years, the water pump, thermostat, clutch, front pads, 3 coil packs, and 2 MAF sensors have apparently been replaced. It's got the extended leather package and the seats are in good condition but dirty & dry with some cracking (I've already cleaned and conditioned them with Lexol). The finish on the wheels is peeling off so that'll need attention.
As you can see, it's got the Dinan CAI plus MAF housings, throttle bodies, tune, and the rear diff.
There's a Dinan badge on the trunk lid, but I'll be removing it along with this E36 M3 spoiler. Unfortunately 4 holes have been drilled. I may look for another E39 trunk lid instead of having a shop fill in the holes, but we'll see. A paint-matched OEM lip will be going on.
Headed back to the hotel, ate oysters & calamari for dinner and caught a show at Neumos.
Since the PO was only available for a PPI on the weekend, I made an appointment with BMW Seattle which worked out since the airbag recall still needed to be performed. It took me 3 weeks to coordinate getting an airbag in stock, ultimately needing to get the general manager involved, but it's all good. Plus the center of the steering wheel is brand new now. Score. Dropped off the car at 8 am, picked up my camera and spent some time in the city.
PPI revealed several items, biggest one being leaky valve cover gaskets (no surprise), worn serpentine belts (something I noticed the day before), and the door mirrors being broken (I was aware of this). Nothing screamed "run away!" but I also didn't wanna drive over 1,000 miles back home with one of the belts possibly ripping apart, so decided to get new ones installed after the PO offered to put them on. The Seattle dealership didn't have any in stock, but Bellevue had 1 of each left. The time was 4:30, they closed at 6. A race against time!
Ended up buying the belts, then back to the dude's place where they were replaced, mainly due to my excellent lighting work (I'm actually on the other side providing additional lighting as we listened to 90s hip hop).
The tensioners were pretty stiff and the PO was pulling hard while his friend was trying to put them on when all of a sudden his dad walks into the garage holding a Costco-sized box of ice cream bars. "Hey you boys want some of these?" Ummm...kinda busy here but thanks!
Handed over the check, completed the paperwork, returned the zippy Sentra, then back to the hotel. These eyes...quite angelic.
On Sunday we headed straight down to Portland where I called AAA from the passenger seat, answered a bunch of questions, then saw my annual insurance premium decrease by $80. Multi-car policy FTW.
Downtown Portland is interesting. Saw some dude walking around with a 6-ft tree branch in one hand, a bunch of leaves in another, wrapped in a Camry-beige toga, with a ****-eating grin on his face. I can only assume he was living life to its fullest.
I was there back in October and visited a previous photo location.
On Monday we stopped by Corvalis and Eugene to check out the campuses and took more photos.
On Oregon's campus I was approached by some wildlife activists and invited to play the salmon game (you get 3 foam cubes and try to throw them through the hole). I got close but didn't make any, yet they still gave me salmon-shaped candy, which was nice.
Then we headed towards the coast and checked out some Dunes. On the way there we passed by a lot of moss. So much moss. Mas moss than I've seen before.
Walking through this was quite the workout.
Spent the night in Coos Bay and ate a German restaurant where the waitress would pour you water, then say "thank you" which was somewhat confusing. And...get this...if you paid in cash, you'd get a slice of carrot cake! I wonder if the cost of that slice is really less than the 3% credit card fee. Asking the important questions.
Now it's Tuesday and we're heading down the coast again. Decided to practice my action shots in a empty section of the road.
Then made a stop at the Coquille River Lighthouse.
The roads were pretty slippery at some points and we passed this upside down Beetle (emergency crews were there soon after).
Came across this interesting sign. What, pray tell, can be so awesome that requires such a sign?
Next stop was seeing the Redwoods but unfortunately the main road was closed due to a fallen tree. Still a scenic route getting there while obeying posted speed limits at all times.
Got to see Elk; they were chill. I named this one Charlie.
Kinda feel bad for the snake as I think he was about to eat that snail, but slithered away after I took the shot.
Spent Tuesday night in Eureka where nothing crazy happened, other than the hotel dryer not working at all, forcing me to walk across the street to the laundromat.
Wednesday was the last fun day of the trip as we drove through Avenue of the Giants again. I absolutely love this road. 2 years ago I drove through it with the C63 which had superior handling and steering, but despite a sloppy, long-throw shifter (for now), just having the option to row my own gears more than made up for it. Looking forward to doing it with the Cayman at some point.
Made it back to SF without any issues and did some more photography. Well, almost without any issues...
You think this guy...
...hangs out with this guy?
I wanna know, so I should ask this guy.
So anyway, remember how the mirrors were broken? Yeah...well they were glued back on in Seattle, but the swivel plate on the passenger side finally gave way in SF.
Didn't want it dangling on the way home. Initiate mirror removal.
Once I got back home, I bought an aftermarket replacement housing (everything but the glass) and decided to swap the internals so I wouldn't have to paint it. But hey guess what? The connector doesn't go through the hole!
Ended up having to the cut and re-splice the wires.
The center dash vents were broken so I got new ones too. I needed to get the radio out so I can pop the vents out, which should be easy since allz ya gotta do is take out 4 screws. Except 2 of them had stripped heads, requiring me to drill them out. Oh lawdy.
So far I've also replaced the oil (where I discovered stripped threads in the oil pan), transmission fluid, and the rear diff oil which required the cutoff 14mm allen wrench trick to remove the plugs.
Sweet sassy malassy it's late. Thanks for reading. I'll share more of my future plans tomorrow and leave you with my favorite pic from the trip.