A Hard Road: Goodbye Bullitt; Hello M3: And No I’m Not Employed By BMW

 

So I’m sure by now you’ve all realized I’m good at keeping an April Fool’s joke going, and others of you know that I was in the process of trying to sell both my 2008 Ford Bullitt Mustang and 2005 MINI Cooper S. Those days are over now, and thanks to Leith BMW, I have my dream car: a BMW M3.

Now a BMW M3 is not exactly on the top of everyone’s wishlist with all of the great new exotic material coming out these days. For a young teenage boy, every 3 months marks the time for another dream car. When I was a young teen, all I could dream of were Corvettes, which my family had way too many of, and a BMW.

When I was young my youngest brother, who’s still 8 years older than me, used to allow me to look over his shoulder as he read all of the glorious car magazines of the day. I remember one issue in 1997 where the E36 M3 was ranked by Car and Driver as the best handling car in America, against the 993 Porsche 911 C2S, C5 Corvette, Dodge Viper GTS, Porsche Boxster, Honda Prelude SH (a truly underrated fun sports car even by today’s standards), Ferrari F355, Toyota Supra Turbo, and my other personal favorite, the Acura NSX.

I looked at the magazine in shock that ANYTHING could beat a Corvette (I come from a ‘Vette family… so give me a break, huh), and asked what that car was. My brother, a true auto-genius of the day said, “Oh, that’s the E36 BMW M3, one of the coolest cars in the world.” From that day on I would dream of a car more than any Corvette: The BMW M3.

The article can be read here.

Over the years I’ve made attempts at trying to get an M3. My first car was a 1996 BMW 328iS, and my third car was a 2005 E46 330i ZSP sedan. I haven’t owned a BMW since 2006. I was tossing back and forth between a Z3 M Coupe, Z4 M Coupe and an E46 M3 before I ended up driving Ford’s magically delicious Bullitt Mustang around their test tracks in 2008 and then purchasing one. The Bullitt will always be a great, shining purchase and ownership experience in my life. I hate that I had to sell her, but it was time to move on and let her go to someone who could take better care of her than I could. I’m an auto sap… Sorry!

Anyway, now I finally OWN a BMW M3! It’s a 2009 Jerez Black with Silver Novillo extended leather interior with Sycamore Anthracite Wood trim. The options include EDC (Electronic Damping Control), Premium Package 2 (extended leather, power folding auto-dimming mirrors, interior mirror with compass and garage door opener) and Convenience Package (comfort access keyless entry, alarm, iDrive with navigation and iPod/USB), as well as heated seats, fold down rear seats, moonroof, premium sound and HD radio, as well as the 19″ premium wheels.

So as I was saying, how could a BMW M3 be my dream car? That’s simple: I’m practical. Of course the McLaren F1 is on my dream car list, as well as the Acura NSX (my father had one that I drove quite often, but I want one of my own), but let’s be honest. In a day where everyone has an automatic transmission because they think they’re an F1 driver or believe that it’s safer, I’ll take my chances with the cars that are worth it: the ones with manual transmissions. I enjoy the thrill of the drive, not the sheer speed of it.

My buddy and I were driving my father’s CTS-V recently, and because the car has mind bending speed, when we returned to my Bullitt Mustang and I mashed on the gas pedal to have a little fun in the twisties he says, “After the CTS-V, everything else is just stupid and slow…” But see, that’s a dumb statement.

Speed is relative, and anyone who believes this actually cares about the drive. While my friend cares, he thinks all out speed is what wins every day. I don’t need that much speed in my life anymore. I’ve done 150+ mph on open highways and roads; I’ve driven back roads at stupid speeds and had to slam on my brakes around a blind turn that had a construction worker with a STOP sign up at the other end of it. I’ve been dumb, and I’m lucky to have turned the next corner to safety. So when it comes to going fast, I don’t need it. I love it, it’s a hell of a rush, but all I need each day of my life is a thrilling drive that oozes passion and JOY. At the end of that day, I drive a BMW M3.

So on to some pictures, shall we:

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I'm a car, music, and Howard Stern aficionado. I also love planes, trains, anything to do with science and engineering, as well as politics. I'm working on my screenplays, TV shows, and a book or two. Stay tuned to when I'm really famous and even more awesome.

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  • Rogergrish1999

    Should kept the Bullitt :-(

    A true collectors car, unique, limited run, amazing color, great power… I think you will regret it when it sinks in.

  • Anonymous

    I wish I could have kept her. And as much as I wanted to, I realized that it was time to let someone else understand why the Bullitt is one of the best cars Ford has ever made. She’ll certainly be missed, and if I ever get the money, I’d love to buy her back… I’ll have another Mustang in the future to keep as a collector car. Jacqi had a little over 43,000 miles on her, so she was well used. She wanted to be driven every day, not be a garage queen. However, I was upset that I had to park her outside in the elements the last few months I had her.

    This M3 will be somewhat of a collector’s car, too. It’s the last V8 M3… and it’s an E90.

  • JBsC5

    that M3 is a hell of a nice sports sedan! Although I would personally be an individual that after driving stick shifts for over 30 years..I would be one of the people who marvel at the new BMW DCT transmission…Technology….I admire your perspective and insights as to why you personally prefer the manual transmission in your world class sports sedan.. Enjoy!

    JB

  • JBsC5

    autoweeks insights to the M3. EXECUTIVE EDITOR ROGER HART: A couple of days driving this 2011 BMW M3 coupe and it’s easy to see why this is the benchmark by which all other sport coupes are measured. The V8 is terrific, and while it peaks at more than 400 hp, it somehow felt even more powerful. With the six-speed manual, you can easily keep the revs in the sweet spot. I found myself driving for a while in third gear, just to hear the great engine note blast out of the quad exhausts. The attention to detail in the way the car steers and brakes is evident–everything is tight. This is, in effect, a race car. The steering is spot on, the feedback letting you know exactly where the front tires are at any given time. And because this thing is capable of warp speed, the brakes, with the cross-drilled and ventilated rotors that come with the sport package, are outstanding. In freeway driving, you need to realize that you will be able to stop much more quickly–if necessary–than just about anyone else you are sharing the road with.The transmission has nice short throws to facilitate changing gears. The clutch takeup is also excellent, up near the top of the pedal travel. And the pedals are perfectly spaced for heel-and-toe shifting.I found the mechanically operated seats to be a pain to try to find a comfortable seating position. For nearly $70K, can I get electrically controlled seats? Would it really add that much weight? And I would love to see BMW come up with a new radio interface for cars without a navigation system and iDrive. The technology there is at least a decade (or more) old. And while the iPod interface works, to scroll through the song menu you need a copilot operating the system. It takes so long that if the driver were doing it, you’d be in the ditch way before you found your favorite Willie Nelson tune.But, hey, the M3 is about as close to a race car for the street as you can buy, and the driving experience from that standpoint is hard to beat.ASSOCIATE EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: We’ve heaped a lot of praise onto the BMW M3 over the years, and deservingly so. From a chassis dynamics standpoint, few companies do it as well as BMW. The suspension keeps it confidently stuck through corners, steering is precise and offers good feedback through the wheel, and ride quality is more than manageable for the times when you’re not slinging it around hard. The 4.0-liter V8 has phenomenal throttle response with a stratospheric 8,400-rpm redline. As Roger said, the M3 remains the car that other car companies strive to beat in this segment.What I don’t agree with Roger on is the transmission. Of course, kudos to BMW for continuing to offer the M3 with a six-speed manual in addition to pleasing the dual-clutch sequential manual folks by offering a seven-speed box. But I do wish BMW would tune the shifter for a crisper and more precise operation. Acura and Audi manuals offer way better shift actions, in my opinion. The springy clutch pedal is another thing I’m not high on. Does it work? Yeah, for certain, but it’s just one of those things that you wish could be a tad better. This particular 2011 M3 was light on the tech features, which was nice. No iDrive, navigation and satellite radio to fool around with (OK, I did miss the sat radio a bit). The seats were manual, and I didn’t like those at all. Attempting to find a comfortable seating position is difficult and the seat themselves don’t offer the levels of side support you need in a car like this. A set of sport buckets like what Audi puts in the S4 are sorely needed.But when it comes to the overall driving experience, no other car in this class delivers as strong in all areas as the BMW M3. Not the Lexus IS-F or the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Neither of those offers a true manual gearbox or has a chassis as well sorted as the BMW’s. Sure, they are more powerful. The Lexus’s 5.0-liter V8 spits out a smidge more horsepower at 416, while the Benz’s 6.2-liter V8 does a good amount more at 451 hp. They both out-torque the Bimmer’s 295 lb-ft, with the IS-F delivering 371 lb-ft and the C63 AMG ringing up 443 lb-ft. Still, even being outmotored, the BMW isn’t too far behind to 60 mph, according to the manufacturer’s published performance figures. BMW says this M3 with the manual transmission reaches 60 mph from a standstill in 4.7 seconds, while the Lexus does it in 4.6 seconds and the Mercedes is the fastest of them all at 4.4 seconds. However, with the dual-clutch transmission, BMW says 0-to-60-mph times drop to 4.5 seconds, which would be faster than the Lexus but still slower than the Benz. Of course, does this really matter? It’s just splitting hairs here and in the end, all three are really darn fast.The good news for consumers is that all three bring different characteristics to the table. In my opinion, the Lexus is the third-place entry, while the BMW and the Mercedes swap first and second. Sometimes the Benz’s throaty V8 and raw power gets me, while at other times I prefer the BMW’s balanced attack.NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: I agree with Roger and Jon, the M3 coupe remains the benchmark for this segment. It’s powerful, luxurious and well-executed in everyway that matters. The engine is a rocket, with an imposing sound and sinister exhaust note. The six-speed manual is a gem, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable and interactive for enthusiasts who want to channel all of this copious power themselves. The chassis is solid, and the body is taut and composed. Turns and curves are little trouble, and the driver feeds off this car’s energy. I like the subtle looks too. The badging, the domed hood, the curved fenders–it’s all impressive without being overwrought. My dislikes were more along the lines of nitpicking. The mechanical seats seemed Paleozoic for a car this expensive, and the radio interface looked as if it was straight out of the 1980s. Where’s the satellite radio, too? It comes on entry-level sedans, but not on one of the baddest sports coupes in the world?All of that is overlooked when smoothly operating clutch and pedal as you blitz through traffic. It’s truly a fun car. The M3 coupe also represents the best of the automobile world–power and luxury. Just be sure to take the manual.ART DIRECTOR CHERYL L. BLAHNIK: Oh, if only every car could drive like this. I had this car for a night and hoped that I could have it longer–like, forever. It’s a sharp-looking car from the outside with the M3 badges, domed hood and carbon-fiber roof. But once you slide into the cabin, the disappointment sets in. This generation 3-series has been a around for a bit and it’s glaringly apparent in the cabin. As others have mentioned, the radio interface looks really dated. Good thing the driving experience keeps you distracted from looking too deeply into the interior. Speaking of driving experience, this car is tight and begs to be driven beyond a straight line. With its cornering prowess and six-speed manual gearbox, this car would be a blast for any driving enthusiast. MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: This is one of my traditional favorites, but I’m starting to look forward to the next generation. For all of the power, feel and handling prowess of the V8-engined M3, I miss its predecessors every time I drive it.I don’t want to say it feels heavy per se, even though it is quite, er, substantial, because BMW’s V8 and world-class chassis/suspension tuning mask a lot of the heft. As always, you can throw this M3 around with abandon only to be rewarded at every curve in the road. Still, there’s just something about the car that bugs me, and it’s more like the overall feeling it conveys to me rather than any single glaring deficiency. Little things like difficulty finding a good seating position, long shift throws and having to reach too far for the shifter itself and a rubber-band clutch annoy me more every time I sample this car.The M3’s handling, engine and overall experience still put it at the top of the sport-coupe/sport-sedan class, but as time goes on, I grow more certain that I won’t ever miss this car the way I do the old ones when a replacement comes along. I hope I haven’t spoken too soon.2011 BMW M3 Coupe Base Price: $59,775As-Tested Price: $66,425Drivetrain: 4.0-liter V8; RWD, six-speed manualOutput: 414 hp @ 8,300 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpmCurb Weight: 3,704 lbFuel Economy (EPA/AW): 16/16.5 mpgOptions: Competition package including dynamic damper control, 18-inch alloy double-spoke wheels, automatic start/stop function, M drive, adjustable front armrest ($2,500); BMW assist with Bluetooth ($750); Le Mans blue-metallic exterior paint ($550); blue-gray brushed aluminum with adjustable seat width/lumbar ($500); heated front seats, ambient lighting ($500); iPod and USB adapter ($400); smartphone integration ($150) Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20110901/CARREVIEWS/110839976#ixzz1Wik2dJQx

  • JBsC5

    autoweeks insights to the M3. EXECUTIVE EDITOR ROGER HART: A couple of days driving this 2011 BMW M3 coupe and it’s easy to see why this is the benchmark by which all other sport coupes are measured. The V8 is terrific, and while it peaks at more than 400 hp, it somehow felt even more powerful. With the six-speed manual, you can easily keep the revs in the sweet spot. I found myself driving for a while in third gear, just to hear the great engine note blast out of the quad exhausts. The attention to detail in the way the car steers and brakes is evident–everything is tight. This is, in effect, a race car. The steering is spot on, the feedback letting you know exactly where the front tires are at any given time. And because this thing is capable of warp speed, the brakes, with the cross-drilled and ventilated rotors that come with the sport package, are outstanding. In freeway driving, you need to realize that you will be able to stop much more quickly–if necessary–than just about anyone else you are sharing the road with.The transmission has nice short throws to facilitate changing gears. The clutch takeup is also excellent, up near the top of the pedal travel. And the pedals are perfectly spaced for heel-and-toe shifting.I found the mechanically operated seats to be a pain to try to find a comfortable seating position. For nearly $70K, can I get electrically controlled seats? Would it really add that much weight? And I would love to see BMW come up with a new radio interface for cars without a navigation system and iDrive. The technology there is at least a decade (or more) old. And while the iPod interface works, to scroll through the song menu you need a copilot operating the system. It takes so long that if the driver were doing it, you’d be in the ditch way before you found your favorite Willie Nelson tune.But, hey, the M3 is about as close to a race car for the street as you can buy, and the driving experience from that standpoint is hard to beat.ASSOCIATE EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: We’ve heaped a lot of praise onto the BMW M3 over the years, and deservingly so. From a chassis dynamics standpoint, few companies do it as well as BMW. The suspension keeps it confidently stuck through corners, steering is precise and offers good feedback through the wheel, and ride quality is more than manageable for the times when you’re not slinging it around hard. The 4.0-liter V8 has phenomenal throttle response with a stratospheric 8,400-rpm redline. As Roger said, the M3 remains the car that other car companies strive to beat in this segment.What I don’t agree with Roger on is the transmission. Of course, kudos to BMW for continuing to offer the M3 with a six-speed manual in addition to pleasing the dual-clutch sequential manual folks by offering a seven-speed box. But I do wish BMW would tune the shifter for a crisper and more precise operation. Acura and Audi manuals offer way better shift actions, in my opinion. The springy clutch pedal is another thing I’m not high on. Does it work? Yeah, for certain, but it’s just one of those things that you wish could be a tad better. This particular 2011 M3 was light on the tech features, which was nice. No iDrive, navigation and satellite radio to fool around with (OK, I did miss the sat radio a bit). The seats were manual, and I didn’t like those at all. Attempting to find a comfortable seating position is difficult and the seat themselves don’t offer the levels of side support you need in a car like this. A set of sport buckets like what Audi puts in the S4 are sorely needed.But when it comes to the overall driving experience, no other car in this class delivers as strong in all areas as the BMW M3. Not the Lexus IS-F or the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Neither of those offers a true manual gearbox or has a chassis as well sorted as the BMW’s. Sure, they are more powerful. The Lexus’s 5.0-liter V8 spits out a smidge more horsepower at 416, while the Benz’s 6.2-liter V8 does a good amount more at 451 hp. They both out-torque the Bimmer’s 295 lb-ft, with the IS-F delivering 371 lb-ft and the C63 AMG ringing up 443 lb-ft. Still, even being outmotored, the BMW isn’t too far behind to 60 mph, according to the manufacturer’s published performance figures. BMW says this M3 with the manual transmission reaches 60 mph from a standstill in 4.7 seconds, while the Lexus does it in 4.6 seconds and the Mercedes is the fastest of them all at 4.4 seconds. However, with the dual-clutch transmission, BMW says 0-to-60-mph times drop to 4.5 seconds, which would be faster than the Lexus but still slower than the Benz. Of course, does this really matter? It’s just splitting hairs here and in the end, all three are really darn fast.The good news for consumers is that all three bring different characteristics to the table. In my opinion, the Lexus is the third-place entry, while the BMW and the Mercedes swap first and second. Sometimes the Benz’s throaty V8 and raw power gets me, while at other times I prefer the BMW’s balanced attack.NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: I agree with Roger and Jon, the M3 coupe remains the benchmark for this segment. It’s powerful, luxurious and well-executed in everyway that matters. The engine is a rocket, with an imposing sound and sinister exhaust note. The six-speed manual is a gem, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable and interactive for enthusiasts who want to channel all of this copious power themselves. The chassis is solid, and the body is taut and composed. Turns and curves are little trouble, and the driver feeds off this car’s energy. I like the subtle looks too. The badging, the domed hood, the curved fenders–it’s all impressive without being overwrought. My dislikes were more along the lines of nitpicking. The mechanical seats seemed Paleozoic for a car this expensive, and the radio interface looked as if it was straight out of the 1980s. Where’s the satellite radio, too? It comes on entry-level sedans, but not on one of the baddest sports coupes in the world?All of that is overlooked when smoothly operating clutch and pedal as you blitz through traffic. It’s truly a fun car. The M3 coupe also represents the best of the automobile world–power and luxury. Just be sure to take the manual.ART DIRECTOR CHERYL L. BLAHNIK: Oh, if only every car could drive like this. I had this car for a night and hoped that I could have it longer–like, forever. It’s a sharp-looking car from the outside with the M3 badges, domed hood and carbon-fiber roof. But once you slide into the cabin, the disappointment sets in. This generation 3-series has been a around for a bit and it’s glaringly apparent in the cabin. As others have mentioned, the radio interface looks really dated. Good thing the driving experience keeps you distracted from looking too deeply into the interior. Speaking of driving experience, this car is tight and begs to be driven beyond a straight line. With its cornering prowess and six-speed manual gearbox, this car would be a blast for any driving enthusiast. MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: This is one of my traditional favorites, but I’m starting to look forward to the next generation. For all of the power, feel and handling prowess of the V8-engined M3, I miss its predecessors every time I drive it.I don’t want to say it feels heavy per se, even though it is quite, er, substantial, because BMW’s V8 and world-class chassis/suspension tuning mask a lot of the heft. As always, you can throw this M3 around with abandon only to be rewarded at every curve in the road. Still, there’s just something about the car that bugs me, and it’s more like the overall feeling it conveys to me rather than any single glaring deficiency. Little things like difficulty finding a good seating position, long shift throws and having to reach too far for the shifter itself and a rubber-band clutch annoy me more every time I sample this car.The M3’s handling, engine and overall experience still put it at the top of the sport-coupe/sport-sedan class, but as time goes on, I grow more certain that I won’t ever miss this car the way I do the old ones when a replacement comes along. I hope I haven’t spoken too soon.2011 BMW M3 Coupe Base Price: $59,775As-Tested Price: $66,425Drivetrain: 4.0-liter V8; RWD, six-speed manualOutput: 414 hp @ 8,300 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpmCurb Weight: 3,704 lbFuel Economy (EPA/AW): 16/16.5 mpgOptions: Competition package including dynamic damper control, 18-inch alloy double-spoke wheels, automatic start/stop function, M drive, adjustable front armrest ($2,500); BMW assist with Bluetooth ($750); Le Mans blue-metallic exterior paint ($550); blue-gray brushed aluminum with adjustable seat width/lumbar ($500); heated front seats, ambient lighting ($500); iPod and USB adapter ($400); smartphone integration ($150) Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20110901/CARREVIEWS/110839976#ixzz1Wik2dJQx

  • Jbsc5

    Justin,

    Can you give insight to the different feeling of driving your BMW when you set it to alter the throttle response etc..in one of the various settings you have…I believe its the track mod that alters throttle response…

    My question is…do you run in that mode most often …as it would seem to be the most reactive and most entertaining..

    Thanks in advance..
    JB..