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Blog : Independent Motorcars

‘Miss Sid’ is Vicious

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Like many a Saturday throughout the year I find myself at a San Diego BMWCCA Autocross event at Qualcomm Stadium where one of my customers drifts through the first turn of an S curve, attempts to recover for the second, and starts failing miserably.  This pristine 2004 M3 was in my shop 2 days prior to re-align the bumper, replace the wheel house liners, and remove a bunch of cone marks. Having already devoured about 10 cones, it is now spinning out of control and is headed for a massive concrete light post.  It comes to a halt about 3 feet from what would have been a total disaster.

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Finding an SLS AMG – The birthday present that almost wasn’t.

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I help people buy cars all the time.  Mostly it is during a Pre-purchase Inspection where an astute individual decides it might be a good idea to have a potential used car checked over before signing on the dotted line or surrendering a handful of cash to a guy he just met on craigslist.  I also do a lot of Post-purchase Inspections, and trust me, it is much easier to hear bad news during a ‘Pre’ than a ‘Post.’

On what might be considered the glamorous side of things, I have probably inspected close to half a billion dollars worth of exotic/classic cars for those with the means to buy them.  From Wall St. to Hollywood, I’ve dealt with an array of people hoping to get their dream car.  I take this job pretty seriously.  When it comes to cars, the higher the price tag, the taller the tales.  The shit people try to pull to make a sale is rather amazing. If you think that guy from craigslist was bad, wait until he’s 10 times worse but with a smile of bright white veneers and a tailored suit.  So, once I find said car, I then inspect it, and find any and every damn reason not to buy the car.

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Car of the Week – 1999 BMW M3 – Love for the e36

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A few weeks ago, I felt somewhat aged in my career as a 1999 M3, similar to this one, had a Respect your Elders sticker on the rear vent window.  It brought me back to the time when the typical day was spent working on mostly 3,5,6, and 7 series cars that were built in the late 80s and early 90s.  I distinctly remember the first time I got into a e36 M3 and was a bit awestruck at how modern it was.  How aggressive the styling was compared to the previous 3-series chassis (e30).  The leather smelled fresh, the steering wheel was like no other and directed a much stiffer suspension than any other product BMW had delivered in the past.  Not to mention that in the 90s, the S52 engine was a beast to say the least.

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Why I hate Run-Flat tires

I kept seeing this commercial for Bridgestone run-flat tires as I watched games in the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. While this is a great commercial and all,  I will never put run-flat tires on my car, and constantly steer customers away from them when they are in need of new rubber on their Audi, BMW, or Mercedes.  Here are a few reasons why I overwhelmingly favor conventional tires over current run-flat tires:

Run flat tires kills your handling.

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My guide to buying a car off of Craigslist

At times I feel bad for Autotrader when it comes to the used car market as they have suffered with the advent of Craigslist’s classifieds section.  I look at used cars all the time; many mornings I’ll spend about 30 minutes just looking at cars for sale over a cup of coffee as I never know when I’ll find a deal.  I’ve also helped many people over time who bought a used car from a Craigslist ad to figure out what the new ride is in need of.  Unfortunately, I usually see these cars after the deal is done.  Some get lucky and some wind up in a world of hurt.  So before you go out test driving, I thought I’d give you a little guide on how to read Craigslist ads, what to look for, and how to proceed once you think you’ve found a good candidate.

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They don’t make ’em like they used to . . .

In 1986 Kenny Rodgers released his 14th album, ‘They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To’ and proved the old adage correct as it peaked at number 16 on the Country charts, his worst album ranking in 10 years.

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‘They don’t make ’em like they used to’ has perhaps been applied to the automotive industry more than any other and people have been saying this about cars for the last 50 years.

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Want a Classic Car on a Budget? Here’s 5 of ’em

While at the Scottsdale Auctions a few weeks ago I was pretty amazed at the amounts of money that was being thrown at the cars on stage.  Fifteen years ago when I first got into cars, there was a lot of opportunity for a young guy who was short on cash to acquire a classic import for little money.  Before my obsession with BMWs began, I picked up a 1974 VW Westfalia camper bus for about $800 and it actually drove under it’s own power and had a great interior.  Sure, the paint was bad, it leaked oil, and the rear brakes needed to be gone through, but I was into a classic ride for $800 that I could actually use.  Feeling reminisant, I looked for a similar one to mine on eBay to see what’s out there.  Well, here’s what’s out there . . .

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Auction Week – 72 Hours in Scottsdale

I’ve just finished my annual trip to Scottsdale, AZ for what is a crazy 72 hours packed full of cars being auctioned off, none of which I can afford.  What makes this trip fun for me is the company, as I’m typically with about 5 guys that can afford to play this game and it becomes what resembles a fishing trip in the middle of the Pacific. If you aren’t familiar with the different auctions, here’s a break-down:

Gooding & Company – The Elite. If you’re on a limited budget, this ain’t the place.  Really nice cars and a well organized event.  They take their time with each lot up for bid.

RM Auctions – Very similar to Gooding but with a much better location

Bonhams – Another high-end auction with very expensive cars, but not quite as flashy or over-exposed as the other two

Russo and Steele – If you are on a budget and not looking for anything fancy this is the place.  Lots of cars with tons of variety in every price point.  The cars go through quick so do your homework and don’t get caught in the bathroom when it is time to bid.

Barrett-Jackson – The Circus.  It is the epitome of over-indulgence and you’ll see more sheet metal and silicone implants on display than you could ever hope for.

After my first trip, I was pretty worn out with all the running around and the desert air playing games with my sinuses. A year later I was ready to get off the plane and hand my luggage to the first cabbie that volunteered a ride at ground transportation at PHX.

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