Introducing Kayla - BMW E36 M3 Project Car August 29 2013
"Let's go test drive some cars," my dad said one weekend. I already had a car at the time - a 1989 Honda Prelude 2.0 SI that I loved, but persistent "reminders" from my mom about my Prelude not having airbags or anti-lock brakes must have worn my dad down. Test driving cars is always fun, so we set out on an adventure to look at some cars. Being a Honda fanboy at the time, I was excited about later model Honda Preludes, Acura Integras and the Acura RSX. As I test drove them one by one, I found that they were nice, but they were only incrementally better than the Prelude I had grown to love. A few weekends later, my Dad and I went out to expand our search. I drove a BMW 325, but again, I wasn't blown away by the performance.
A few weeks after that, my Dad saw an M3 in Dakar yellow in the classifieds from a private seller and thought we should at least test drive one. I took it for a drive with my dad and the first thing I remember was laughing at the ridiculous amount of torque and the acceleration. It just squatted on its rear tires and launched forward. The suspension was firm and planted. There was an intangible sense of quality and solidness. Everything about it was amazing, and it was way out of my league.
That car ended up being bought from under us, but now there was no going back. We had experienced what an M3 could do and what it could feel like. We shopped around looking for a good example of an M3 and finally sealed the deal on a 1998 BMW M3 in Estoril blue with dove grey interior. It was gifted to me by my Dad. It was never something I had asked for, and I was always keenly aware of the grave injustice in being so privileged to own such an incredible machine.
I named her Kayla. It was bittersweet at first, selling the Prelude and watching the new owner drive off. But I was soon lost in euphoric surges of torque and the sonorous song of the BMW 3.2 liter inline 6. Even today, I smile every time I drive her. Even after sampling newer cars, the M3 is still one of the best driver's cars in existence. The handling is so neutral and the car lets you steer it with the throttle pedal so easily. The stock brakes are powerful and good enough for track duty. The throttle response is instantaneous, and the car talks to you through the steering wheel. I can't think of one thing that she doesn't do well.
We've gone autocrossing and we've been to high performance track days. We've gone through a stack of brake pads, several sets of tires and countless filters. Overall, she doesn't ask for much and yet she just gives and gives.
I try to give back as much as I can. Some of the more significant upgrades I've given her include intake, catback exhaust, ECU reprogramming, chassis brace, head work, lightweight wheels, and upgraded brake components. As she starts to show signs of age, I am having to start to replace and upgrade more components. The plan is to keep her on the road for as long as I can. If I can one day gift this car to my future hypothetical offspring, then the story will have come full circle. Stay tuned as we take you through all the maintenance and modification that she receives.