There are two times in my life when a car truly got away. Both times, I made the decision to let it go, and it was probably a good decision, whether just at the time, or for long term.
The first time was in 1995. The car was a Nugget Yellow G60 Corrado. Oh, man. I wanted that thing. I recall telling a friend at the time that “I want it, but I think it would be the end of my marriage.” Looking back, oh yeah, that would have been a bad idea. I would have either gotten one of the good G60s and spent the next ten years making it into an awesome G60 at the expense of the rest of my life, or one of the time-bomb G60s that would have also sucked the life out of me, just in a different way.
I still stop and admire those things, and almost bought a used one a few weekends ago. I’m still not sure my life would survive a G60.
The second time was different. I was shopping for a family car. I had two inviolable demands: stick shift and a 48″ wide hatch. The 48″ wide hatch was not that bad – the E-Klasse, 5er-Touring, and the Passat were all there. The Saab Aero was close. It was a funny time, because I really just wanted an Accord wagon, but those weren’t shipped over the Pacific any more. The E-Klasse was out due to the lack of proper transmission. It was down to the E39 and the B5. I thought I lusted after that G60. My desire for that E39 wasn’t even on the same scale. In my eyes, the E39 Touring was and is the be-all, end-all of cars. Peak auto. The complete package. The E39 was a completely different kind of want, because there was absolutely nothing on my list of needs and wants that it didn’t bring with. The price, though. Yeah. I consoled myself by saying that I wasn’t going to buy a car that was worth more than my house.
I bought the B5, and it has been a wonderful car, lifestyle accessory, project, whatever I wanted, it delivered. Except RWD. I’ve admitted that a Corrado would be a bad idea, but I still wish I’d sprung for that BMW. Because RWD.
Right now, there is an M-swapped E39 on CL in NYC. The M version was never available in the US, so you have to swap the M bits in from a sacrificial sedan. A coworker did this swap a couple of years ago on his 540i, and it truly is amazing. The crown on his is the EU-spec tow hitch. I think it gets about 12MPG towing a motorcycle trailer. It is as extreme as you can imagine, and he tows with it. I have trouble coming up with a more perfect sleeper. In fact, if I was going to go the E39 route (I can’t push it out of my head), I would be doing this swap eventually, too. Hint, hint.
The one on CL has a grey interior. That is one of those things that you are either into or NOT. There is little middle ground on grey. I love grey interiors. Grey interiors are kind of the rare spec.
The price of the car on CL is not bad, and I can afford it. But… I am not going to buy it. I thought about it for quite a while last night, and it came down to the fact that there is nothing left to do to the car. I’m a creative person. I realized that I’d rather do that swap myself and make it my car. Buying a completed one would not be the same as building it. And I like to play with cars way too much to buy a finished one.
I also thought about what I really want next, and what I could do with $24K. $24K would buy me a brand new ND. Two decent NCs. Three decent NBs. Four decent NAs. Four, count them, F.O.U.R decent NAs. Or, one decent NA and a bunch of mod money, and still have money in the bank to pay for gobs of track time. That’s not even a decision any more. Fancy car that I won’t play with and won’t track, or decent car that I can screw around with endlessly and track the crap out of? Not even close.
I’m putting my E39 thing back in the box for a while. I also realized that an E36/5 would probably be more my style, and I love me some Kompakt. Mmmmm, Kammback! We get the cast iron block 2.8s over here. That swap is one I would like to do. I bet it would get more than 12MPG towing, too.