Finding the Fairest of Them All

May 8, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Why do people tear apart perfectly good cars in the name of making them better? Why? What level of self-confidence do you possess that you somehow determined your concept of suspension, or your perception of suitable contact patch, and yes, your feelings on engine internals, are better than the instincts of a highly-trained and well-compensated engineer?

This question has been wracking my brain for days as I pour over listings for E36 M3s. So many of these magnificent cars have been gutted, both figuratively and literally, of any cohesiveness they once possessed as a new car. What I mean by cohesiveness is the feeling that every screw is still in the correct location and that when you open a glove box or move the shifter, each movement evokes a sensation that only a motorsports engineer could create.


Now, I have to admit in fairness that I’m living in a bit of a glass house at the moment. I have modified my cars, thrown out the stock parts and done what I felt was a  bonafide improvement. But as I would learn, the Becks-chugging geniuses in Bavaria, Zuffenhausen and Wolfsburg actually know a thing or two about vehicle dynamics. They just may have built an entire chassis around schematics and designs based in years of study and evaluation, giving them at least some credibility to sell you a car that is just what it needs to be. And nothing more, nothing less.

So, as I click on yet another classified ad that divulges yet another M3 loaded with Dinan equipment, slammed on TC Kline coilovers and riding on staggered 19″ BBS basketweaves, I start to wonder just how many more times we’re going to take what was once great (and still largely is) and improve it for the sake of saying, “I was here.”  If you want to make your mark and leave a lasting impression, become a street artist. But leave the E36 M3 alone.