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Third time's the charm: 1989 Lachs/Cardinal

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  • Third time's the charm: 1989 Lachs/Cardinal

    Hi all, I am not new to the forum and not new to E30 ownership!

    In early 2015 I purchased my first E30 M3. I had an excellent and formative journey owning that car, meeting some fantastic people and learning lessons (good and bad) about cars, and what I like to do with my cars. I owned that car for 4.5 years and chronicled the experience in a long thread you might have seen here.

    At the end of 2017 it appears that I thought it was a good idea to get another M3, this time a pretty serious project. I learned quickly that a project of this magnitude was not a good fit for my resources and sent it on its way about a year later.

    After clearing out the M3s, I went into the world of Nissan Skylines. I decided to eschew my usual strategy of "get emotionally hooked on a car and buy it, telling myself I will wrench on it and get it whipped into shape" and instead find a car in excellent condition and start from there. I've had my '92 GT-R for a year and I have loved every minute of it, and I think this was the best approach for me. Instead of fixing and re-fixing issues that keep the car off the road, I wrench on fun stuff (modifications) and never miss a group drive or C&C. With respect to the car itself, the Skyline is an incredible thing and such a different experience from the M3.

    I sold off my long-owned Miata in the fall to bring myself down to a 3-car garage. I started to focus on my very rough 2002tii. Applying the lessons learned from my M3s, it quickly became clear that I am not equipped for a project of the 2002's magnitude. I started looking in earnest for a more complete or finished 2002, going so far as to be high bidder on a 2002tii on BaT that did not meet reserve. Through a couple months of searching I just wasn't finding what I was looking for - it seems in 2002tii land that every car is either coming straight off of a restoration, and therefore quite expensive, or needs to go straight into a restoration, which is even more expensive. The 'goldilocks' driver-but-not-rusted-out car I was looking for did not seem to exist.

    This was all stewing in my brain through the holidays. A friend invited me on a new year's morning drive, along with a friend of his who I had not met before. I took the Skyline, my friend his Integrale, and the new friend had a 458 Spyder.

    After a wet drive we stopped for breakfast at Alice's Resturant, a Bay Area car scene staple. We were munching and chatting cars when a silver E30 M3 rolled through the parking lot. My new friend said offhand, "my buddy has one of those he's selling. It's THE one you would want. Silver over red." Hmm... I said, "could you put me in touch?"

    That was on Wednesday. By Thursday afternoon I had all the juicy details. Lachs/Cardinal. 133k miles with the motor rebuilt 3000 miles ago, interior completely redone, and very long receipts correcting every little thing: A/C, heater core, cruise control, rebuilt calipers, new-old-stock door cards (somehow?), windshield, badges, alternator, starter, on and on. By Friday afternoon I had an appointment to see the car, and by Saturday at lunch I had handed over a deposit. The seller was a fantastic guy, total car nut, and he was excited to see the car go to someone who knew why it was special and would drive it. I'm not going to say that showing him that I still had the "E30 M" license plate sealed the deal, but it definitely bolstered my credentials...

    The car is stock except for a H&R springs, Bilstein shocks, and E28 M5 wheels. I can't believe I haven't taken a photo of the interior but the red is SO good and every trim piece and button looks (well... probably is) new. Stuff works on this car that I didn't even know wasn't working on my old cars.

    I wasn't really expecting to buy another M3, or spend this amount (it was an extremely fair price, but you know how much a nice example is these days), but when I saw the car I and drove it I didn't think twice. I'm back to this platform with what is essentially the car I should have bought the first time... though I couldn't afford it then. I'm hoping that this thread will have fewer photos of me fixing stuff, and more photos of me driving and doing cool things, in comparison to my two other 'progress' threads. Did I mention that I have a shed full of Evo parts that I never got rid of after I sold the other two cars...?
    1989 Lachs
    1988 Lachs - sold
    1988 DS - sold
    Bay Area M3 FB group

  • #2
    Well that is really beautiful.
    Thats a keeper.
    Good wishes with it.
    jimmy p.
    87 E30 M3 Prodrive British Touring Car
    88 E30 M3 Zinnoberot - Street
    88 E30 M3 Lachsilber - Race (#98 SCCA SPU)
    92 E30 M Technic Cabrio - S14 POWERED!
    98 318Ti M44, Base - Morea Green
    04 Ford F350 - V10


    • #3
      Suspiciously, just as this purchase was developing I met up with Kevin, who wanted to practice rolling shots of his M3. This was actually my first time seeing an M3 in quite a while and he put me on driving duty while he practiced snapping photos, hanging out the back of an E93 M3 (fitting). I don't remember if Kevin posts on the forum here but hey, if you're reading this, post up some of those great photos! Seeing his car is enough to get a Prius owner fired up about an E30. I blame him partially for rekindling the fire and motivating my purchase.

      Here's a photo of the very stock motor bay. When I run out of things to spend money on, I'll grab a fresh coolant bottle to spiff things up.

      The very first order of business after purchase was to transfer ownership and get my old plates on the car. It was in the AAA parking lot that I received my first compliment for the car, and was asked if I was selling it. No homie, I bought it yesterday. The second order of business was to correct the wayward trunk M3 emblem.

      First fuel stop.

      The car is riding on M5 wheels so the owner provided the stock 15s as well as a full exhaust system that he'd had removed to pass emissions. Thankful just to get a bonus exhaust, I was excited to see that it was a Supersprint resonated, non-cat center section with a Rogue Engineering diablo muffler.

      I would prefer to keep the midsection OE for the sake of emissions, but I didn't hesitate to fit the muffler. Four days into ownership, I pulled out the wrenches.

      It's a very nice muffler, just the right volume and tone. With that finished, I went to raid the parts stash in my shed.

      There's some red seat action for ya. With a careful hand and a plastic trim tool, I managed to swap these without breaking any of the plastic clips.

      Next up - dead pedal. It might sound silly, since I thought of this as a dress-up item, but the altered foot position is noticeable.

      The kick panel requires trimming to the clear the pedal form. There is a guide line molded into the part - I cut right along that line with a Dremel and fitment was spot-on.

      This morning I went on my first real spirited drive with the car. Kevin's got a cracked windshield on his E30 so he brought his 6-speed E90, and we were joined by a coworker with his 6-speed M2 Competition. The car did not miss a beat and we discovered some fantastic new roads around San Jose. My car performs so well dynamically that I have only very minor plans beyond normal upkeep/maintenance... in fact I enjoy the handling so much that I'm scared to spoil it by changing anything at all! My coworker has a lot of seat time in his E30 track car but amazingly had never had a chance to drive an M3. I was happy to swap seats with him and when we stopped he had rave reviews. As for his M2 Comp, wow. I rented the first gen (non-M3 motor) M2 a year or two ago and spent a day with it, and loved it. I remember thinking, "the last thing this needs is more power." BMW had a different opinion and the result is a car that I found, to be honest, intimidating. It could be due to the fact that I just came out of a car that can barely get out of its own way, and tells you so much through its slow steering rack; but I could not deploy the M2's capability in any way on the public road. It was also, you know, not my car.

      I'm debating whether to post my plans for the car here, early in the thread, or just let the posts be a surprise and show things as they happen. I'm not planning anything spectacular or even particularly creative but, as I said, I do have a shed with some nice parts in it.
      1989 Lachs
      1988 Lachs - sold
      1988 DS - sold
      Bay Area M3 FB group


      • #4
        Welcome back,
        Your new M3 looks like a real bobby dazzler.

        E30 M3 1987
        Mini Clubman GT
        BMW E36 323 Msport
        Toyota Corona
        KTM 200EXC
        Honda CB50 (1979)


        • #5
          Welcome back!

          1988 M3
          2012 335is
          1993 Civic Si


          • #6
            You never really leave the fold once you are afflicted with the M3 Virus. Love the R32 had one in white when I was Japan. They are apples and oranges in driving, but they are fun.
            Who knows where I'll be, changes from day to Continent.


            • Konig
              Konig commented
              Editing a comment
              It's amazing that they were produced at the same time. Granted the E30 was at the end of its run and the R32 was a brand new platform - but they are worlds apart.

          • #7
            So I've been back & forth with the e30 M3 as well and picked up my third one a couple months ago. I totally get where you are coming from in terms of just paying a little more up front for a minty car vs. one that requires a fair amount of restoration and unknown surprises given the age of these cars! Well the one I just picked up, while not a monster resto-project, is certainly demanding more & more resources and even then, I'm not sure I have the patience to get things like the electrical anomalies sorted. For instance, after changing bulb, fuse and a whole new left fog lamp assembly and still unable to get it to work- I'm just gonna rip both sides out and install rep EVO brake ducts, LOL!

            I also recall reading up on your last daunting e30 project and how you basically said that you got the e30 "out-of-your-system", LOL! A temporary reprieve, sure, but I don't think any passionate car guy can get certain iconic cars out-of-our-system, it's just an inherent lust, desire to own, look at...

            Lastly, what an awesome find you lucky bastard! What a beautiful color combo. This purchase is the epitome of right time, right place! All the best and may she be a keeper, if not, sell her to me
            ; )


            • #8
              Welcome back. Good thing you still had a garage full of stuff plus you do know your way around the M3.


              • #9
                Great read and very nice taste. Look forward to the updates. Lovely colour combo.


                • #10
                  Thanks for the positive feedback guys. Still getting used to this view when I head into the garage.

                  Next order of business is to get the 2002tii into shape so that I can sell it.
                  1989 Lachs
                  1988 Lachs - sold
                  1988 DS - sold
                  Bay Area M3 FB group