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      09-24-2019, 10:09 PM   #1
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My M3 Journey: New-to-Me 2017 ///M3

Hello everyone,

Introducing my new-to-me 2017 BMW ///M3. It has been about a three-and-a-half year journey that landed me in this car, so I thought I would share the background of how I got here, as I spent a lot of time on various forums and talking to lots of people to help guide me on my decision.

My previous car was a 2013 BMW 335i Sport Line (RWD / ZF 8-Speed) that I cosmetically modified to look like an M-Sport model (front bumper / side skirts / lip spoiler /etc.). That car was very good to me; I put 80,000 nearly trouble-free miles on it over 5.5 years and caught myself “looking back” in parking lots as much during the last week of ownership as I did during the first.

Having said that, I knew the bar would be high for its replacement. My wife and I set some financial goals that would give me ample time to decide on what I would want in my next car, and in my mind I really wanted something “next level” that would give me that WOW factor each time I drove it. Being analytical, I tried to put on paper the features/virtues I was wanting in my next car, which became:
  • Excellent-Sounding engine, inside & outside
  • Same or better performance to 335i
  • Some element of exclusivity - unique brand, model, body, etc.
  • Leather-wrapped door panels & dashboard
  • Prefer non-touch multimedia interface (wheel or similar)
  • Both paddle shifters and gear leaver shifter (prefer 'pull back for upshift')
  • Analog gauges (tachometer at a minimum) instead of screens
  • Need a back seat for adults, and thus probably four doors
  • Must have a sunroof
  • LED interior lighting around door panels, dashboard, etc.
And given this list, here are the cars I was considering:
  • Porsche Panamera (both first and second/current gen)
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
  • Mercedes Benz C63 S AMG Coupe
  • Maserati Ghibli GranSport
  • Audi RS5 Sportback
What then ensued was a problem. As I started to get closer to the time where I would be placing an order for something, I started to go on test drives of each. And although none of the cars were necessarily bad, the problem was that they were all far too similar in their driving experience to my current 335i than I was expecting. I would get back in my 335i after the test drive and think – “man, unless you are really pushing it, they all drive and feel exactly like my current car – and they cost a whole heap of a lot more than my 335i”. It was becoming apparent that what I thought would really WOW me simply wasn’t, and I was getting disappointed. There were unique problems with each model as well:
  • The Panamera was way too big & silly expensive new
  • The Alfa too docile unless in “RACE” mode (which turns off all of the safety nets – non-starter), and no sunroof option
  • The C63 coupe sounded great but two doors simply wouldn’t cut it for my daily needs
  • The Ghibli was too expensive for what it was and just not that attractive
  • The RS5 was way too quiet – and then very “farty” during upshift blips that I couldn’t stand when pushed hard, but did look quite good
What changed everything was a birthday gift in the Spring of 2018. I found a Porsche 911 GTS 6MT on Turo for a very reasonable cost that I rented for 24 hours. I planned the day down to the half-hour to get the most out of the allotted miles and was absolutely blown away. The noise & mechanical engagement of the six-speed manual was incredible; I had found my WOW factor!

Knowing now that a 6MT was a must, my list above was eliminated as none of them offer this. I did try to make the 911 itself a contender, but for the same reasons as the C63 coupe it wasn’t going to work – two-doors won’t cut it for me until my kids are driving themselves, which is many years away. And the back seat of the 911 is very questionable to say the least.

So who offers a 911 6MT experience with four doors? BMW. The F80 M3, right there all along. I searched my local area to go for a test drive to see if it came close to the 911 experience. I had a hard time finding a 6MT but finally a 2015 was available to drive. WOW. I fell in love with everything about it – I had no idea how different it would feel compared to my 335i. It was the engaging experience I had been searching for!

The one thing holding me back from the F80 was the fact that the G80 was coming. But when the G20 was revealed I was disappointed - I do not like the new “smooth-sided” look nor do I like the digital gauge clusters and overall more bland-styled interior. I have always thought the F30/F80 dash design was unique and interesting, especially when wrapped in stitched leather, and the analog gauge setup of the F80 looks like jewelry to my eyes versus an LCD screen. When I parked my 335i next to a G20 M340i, the G20 just looked very ‘meh’ and the interior experience was a letdown.

So the hunt was on for an F80 – it ticks all of my boxes above and is better in every way than my 335i. It has the "fizz", if you will, to quote Mr. James May. By this point I knew I would be going used since production had already ended, but the plus side of this is the cost of entry compared to new versions of the others went way down, which made my wife (and me) happy.

But the search was going to be difficult as I wanted the cross-section of three relatively rare options AND ZCP – 6MT, sunroof, and full leather. Plus, I was only considering Yas Marina Blue or Austin Yellow, or maybe an individual color if one popped up, further shrinking the candidates (I also liked Sakhir Orange II but I already had Melbourne Red on the 335i so was trying to stay away from reds/oranges). Oh, and I did not want the active safety stuff – I greatly prefer the cubby hole in the dash. I’m no statistician, but the percentage of cars available/built with this combination was well below 1% by my math.

By August of 2018 I had found a candidate. I located a 2017 in Yas Marina Blue with ZCP, 6MT, full black merino leather, and a sunroof. It did not have the safety tech package and was not modified in any way, not even window tint (which I don’t like), which was becoming rare (I didn’t want someone else’s project car). It had less than 20,000 miles and was sitting at a BMW dealer in Vermont - and CPO. I contacted the dealer and the story only got better:
  • CPO until June 2022
  • Fully transferrable maintenance package through June 2023 or 100,000 miles (purchased by the previous owner)
  • COMPLETE paint protection film wrap on the ENTIRE car – something I was budgeting to do myself, already done – virtually guaranteeing the paint underneath was still factory-fresh & in perfect condition!
  • Brand new (at time of sale) Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires

So, not only was I getting a ‘discount’ due to it being lightly used, but the warranty/maintenance/PPF were all huge bonuses I wasn’t planning on. This was my car!

I finalized the deal and had it shipped to a local Costco in St. Louis where I took “delivery”. I spent the next day thoroughly cleaning it, ensuring there were no surprises waiting for me and to my pleasure I found nothing but a nearly perfect interior and perfect exterior – the only blemishes were minor curb rash on the 666M wheels, but that is all. Even the engine bay, which I was expecting to have to detail, was in very clean condition.

That being said, the PPF job did have some imperfections – it was bubbling up on the rocker panels and there was a lot of dirt around the edges on the rear/trunk lid area, so I had a local detail shop trim & clean all of the edges, replace the rocker panel strips and apply a new layer of sealant, which turned out beautifully. Also, the previous owner already drilled & installed a front plate, which is required in Missouri, so I’m biting the bullet and keeping it that way (I’ve previously just not run a front plate). I’m trying to find the look I like but have already switched out the smoked cover seen below for a satin black aluminum frame. We’ll see.

While the car was en route I also ordered the mandatory IND painted side markers and wasted no time installing those. I also knew I didn’t want to keep the factory dark-blue calipers as I didn’t think it worked well with YMB, and had them repainted in bright silver + black M logos (thank you ntgarage44 !), which I am VERY happy with (I was considering yellow but the scheme just wasn’t working in my head for what I wanted this car to be). Finally, I had the unfished muffler cleaned and painted a satin black to hide it better – I never did like it “hanging down” and am quite pleased with the result.

So here we are today. I’m excited for years of enjoyment and OEM+ modifications. Thanks for reading this as I was happy to share my story. On to the pictures!





































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      09-24-2019, 11:03 PM   #2
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Beautiful car. Congratulations!
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      09-25-2019, 12:34 AM   #3
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I looked for ten months for the exact same car. YMB. ZCP. 6spd. Sunroof. Full black leather. I missed out on two and then was lucky to assume a lease on a 2018 posted here. The F80 is probably one the best cars I've ever had. The previous owner had the front done with PPF and a full ceramic coating. The car completely satisfies all of my needs, especially having four doors so I can pick up my kids at school. I've already put 1300mi on it in one month.
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      09-25-2019, 03:30 AM   #4
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Only issue is the front license plate X_X
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      09-25-2019, 04:32 AM   #5
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Envious of the full leather interior, but then again, I'm glad I got cloth seats.

Enjoy the car. Silver calipers look good.
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      09-25-2019, 07:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfm56d7b View Post
Beautiful car. Congratulations!
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DocL View Post
I looked for ten months for the exact same car. YMB. ZCP. 6spd. Sunroof. Full black leather. I missed out on two and then was lucky to assume a lease on a 2018 posted here. The F80 is probably one the best cars I've ever had. The previous owner had the front done with PPF and a full ceramic coating. The car completely satisfies all of my needs, especially having four doors so I can pick up my kids at school. I've already put 1300mi on it in one month.
Nice! I would have preferred a 2018 TBH since it has the standard backup camera and LED lighting (even the base lighting), but I determined through the help of others here that I can retrofit both down the road if I want so I pulled the trigger on the 2017.

Yes, with pickup/drop off of the kids, four doors is a must!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevolution View Post
Only issue is the front license plate X_X
Agree 100%. I can't stand it but am trying to live with it. There was a moment recently with my 335i where my eight-year-old son asked "Why don't you have a front plate? Isn't it required?", and though the answer was easy it was also hard - I was basically showing that I wasn't following the rules of the road and I didn't like setting that example. But, honestly, I see so many cars around StL w/o front plates I'm sure I'll reconsider it down the road. Right now I'm just trying to make it look less ugly; here is the frame I'm running now that lines up the top of the air intake with the bottom of the plate:



Quote:
Originally Posted by swagon View Post
Envious of the full leather interior, but then again, I'm glad I got cloth seats.

Enjoy the car. Silver calipers look good.
Thank you! Yes, the 2015 I drove had cloth seats and I really quite liked them. For me, w/o the leather dash, it would have been too similar to my 335i setup.
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      09-25-2019, 09:20 AM   #7
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Congratulations on the purchase - the car is perfect. Enjoy and drive. Try not to get caught up in modding this or that.

Plenty of miles will bring lots of smiles - cheesy but I like it
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      09-25-2019, 04:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 325iExecutive View Post
Congratulations on the purchase - the car is perfect. Enjoy and drive. Try not to get caught up in modding this or that.

Plenty of miles will bring lots of smiles - cheesy but I like it
Thanks! And I agree that it is easy to get lost in modifying the car and losing sight of how great the car is in stock form. Sometimes it is good to just step back and appreciate it for what it is. That is why one of my search requirements/strong preferences was to find one that was 100% stock.
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      09-25-2019, 04:31 PM   #9
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Looks hot. Thanks for the recognition! Looks like I know what I'm talking about

So much better than yellow red or gold calipers.
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      10-08-2019, 07:24 PM   #10
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Thank you for sharing
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      10-09-2019, 12:49 AM   #11
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Car looks great. Congrats!
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      10-09-2019, 03:10 PM   #12
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Awesome story, great looking car. Super happy that you found what you were looking for. I am currently searching for a Pcar that shouldnt be hard to get, but my patience has not gotten better with age.

Extremely happy for you! (and the wife, because frakly, we all know that's the most important)
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      10-09-2019, 09:07 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone - I appreciate the comments!
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      10-10-2019, 02:13 AM   #14
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Congrat Bleser on your new ride aren't you missing the Melbourne Red? Just kidding YMB is a great color on the M3 enjoy.
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      10-10-2019, 01:52 PM   #15
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Clean!
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      10-10-2019, 10:58 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by zamboni View Post
Congrat Bleser on your new ride aren't you missing the Melbourne Red? Just kidding YMB is a great color on the M3 enjoy.
Ha! Yes, I loved the Melbourne Red but it was time for something new. I excluded Sakhir Orange II from my search as a result. I'm loving Yas Marina Blue.

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Originally Posted by $hah$ View Post
Clean!
Thanks!
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      10-12-2019, 04:29 PM   #17
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nice photos!
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      11-12-2019, 08:13 AM   #18
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I came from a similar set up. 2014 335 X-drive 6 speed manual. To a 2018 Austin Yellow M3 6-speed. Nice M3 and thumbs up for getting a 6 speed!
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      11-19-2019, 01:42 PM   #19
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Love the silver painted calipers and definitely nice photos. Enjoy!
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      11-20-2019, 04:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bleser View Post

Agree 100%. I can't stand it but am trying to live with it. ....
Another option, for those (like myself) who are guaranteed to get tickets without a front plate, is a euro style front plate from HERE. I went this route and receive tons of compliments on it, both on this forum on in person. I've also passed a TON of state troopers and local PD and while they all glance at it, I haven't had a single one give me grief. I honestly think they're just happy they can easily see my plate number, rather than the alternative of having no front plate at all.

Here's my Colorado style plate, for reference:


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Last edited by S4toM3; 11-21-2019 at 09:47 AM..
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      11-21-2019, 05:32 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S4toM3 View Post
Another option, for those (like myself) who are guaranteed to get tickets without a front plate, is a euro style front plate from HERE. I went this route and receive tons of compliments on it, both on this forum on in person. I've also passed a TON of state troopers and local PD and while they all glance at it, I haven't had a single one give me grief. I honestly think their just happy they can easily see my plate number, rather than the alternative of having no front plate at all.

Here's my Colorado style plate, for reference:


Oh damn! is that plate legal in the US? I have only seen long plates in Puerto RIco for euro cars!

Legal or not looks great!
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      11-21-2019, 10:00 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A6bullet View Post
Oh damn! is that plate legal in the US? I have only seen long plates in Puerto RIco for euro cars!

Legal or not looks great!
No, it's not legal since it isn't state issued.

However, with the number of people who try to run around with no front plates, I'd be quite surprised if police give anyone grief for it in most regions. For instance, I'm in Boulder County, CO, where police are notorious for giving no front plate tickets. With that said, I've passed countless local and state police with the euro style plate and they've never given me a problem.

In fact, the numbers on the euro style plate are larger and spread out further. So they can be read more quickly from a greater distance. I imagine that goes a long way with a passing patrol car.

You'll definitely want to keep the state issued plate/tags installed properly in the back, of course.
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