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      12-09-2019, 09:18 AM   #1
jtom83
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jtomaselli83's E90 and automotive history - CAUTION: long read

I've been a member and longtime lurker for a while now. I picked up my E90 about a year and a half ago after a long search. It's a 2011 335i RWD 6SPD Sport LCI. Very much a stripped-down version, compared to some.

Allow me to take you on a bit of historical journey. I've been interested in cars my whole life. From the time I was a kid, I would read car magazines and beg my dad to take me to car shows. When I was 15 I somehow convinced my parents to let me purchase a 1992 Eagle Talon (non-TSI, FWD, 5SPD). Fortunately for you, I don't have any pictures of this turd. It was a pile of poop in every sense of the word. I drove it into the ground, caring only about sub woofers, head units, and under-glow. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time a kick my own ass.

About a year into ownership my dad's truck was in the shop and he took my car to work. He came home that day and condemned it. It had no brakes, bald tires, and every fluid under the hood leaked. Knowing I was planning to commute to college, my parents did what any practical folks do, they went Hyundai shopping...

10-year warranty, brand new car, nothing to worry about. I ended up with a 2001 Hyundai Accent Hatch. Power nothing, 5SPD, AC. I drove that car about 60k miles before finally starting to mod it. I quickly realized I needed something more than that econo-box.

At the time I worked at a Pontiac, Buick, GMC dealer as a lot attendant. Some old lady traded in a low mileage 2000 Monte Carlo with power everything, leather and a 3.8L V6. I traded my Accent in and drove home the Monte. I liked the car for about 3 minutes. What a mistake.

I ended up selling back to the dealer and buying a 1989 VW Jetta sedan. It was a 5SPD and needed a ton of work. This is the car that changed my life forever. I learned how to fix things under the hood, I dabbled in body work, interior repairs and small mods. While it was still a pile of crap, I didn't care what happened to it, because I owned it for next to nothing, and could fix pretty much anything that broke. I wish I never sold it.

The story gets juicier here (and you see pics). I was finally making some coin. Enough to afford a car payment. I liked JDM cars. It was right around the debut of The Fast and The Furious, and I was hooked. I went out in search of a Subaru WRX/STI. I landed on a CPO 2003 WRX Wagon. It was loaded up and 5SPD. I loved every minute of ownership. I put every bolt-on mod that I could get my hands on into that car. Here are some pics:

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It was with this car that I learned about the tuner community and online forums. I met countless people who shared similar interests and had a blast going to car meets, cruises, and shows. I built relationships that I thought would last forever. I'm sure many of you can relate.

About two years into owning my WRX, drifting became huge in the community. Everyone wanted to be "sideways" and owning a car that was built to grip, it was difficult to partake. The bug hit, and I found myself at the Nissan Dealership. I traded my WRX for a 2006 350Z base, 6SPD. I was a fun car, easy to drive, extremely predictable, at the time turned heads. I built the suspension on this car for drifting, and even with an open rear diff, could get it sideways in an instant.

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It was bittersweet, because while I liked the Z, I missed my WRX. I realized that I made a mistake trading it in. It was at this time that I decided to "get practical". I was a full-time student and working a full-time job. I needed something reliable, and that I wouldn't worry about leaving in a parking lot near Center City Philly while in class. I ended up with another econo-box:

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It was a 2006 Honda Civic LX 5SPD. It was much like a washing machine, always worked, but that's about it. I felt dead driving it. I still hung out with all my "car" buddies but felt detached. I was saving for a house, and an engagement ring. My GF at the time was always supportive of my modding habit and hated to see me unhappy, so about a year into owning the Civic, I went in search of a grown-up car that I could still have fun with. I found that in a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 5SPD:

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I loved this car, it had plenty of power, looked great (in my opinion) and was very reliable. But like Tommy Boy with his "pretty new pet" I decided to get it street tuned and ruined it. I took the reliability and flushed it down the toilet. It was dropping injectors every other week, and I didn't have the funds to replace them with upgraded ones. Then one day I drove over what I thought was a plastic Wawa bag in the middle of the road. It turned out to be a huge boulder that must have fell off a landscape truck. I destroyed my downpipe, and center driveshaft.

After replacing the driveshaft and throwing the stock DP on, I traded the car in on the most sensory numbing car I've ever owned. A 2007 Toyota Camry LE automatic. I hated every minute of ownership, but I bought my first house, got married, and graduated college all while owning this car. If I learned anything from the Camry, it was self-control. I never lost my passion for tuning though.

After about 2 years of owning the Camry, I found a 2007 VW GTI with a DSG trans that was in decent shape:



At the time I worked for a German tuning company (which will remain nameless) that I thought would have been my dream job. I bought the GTI and had fun with it. It was used for R&D at my work and performed very well. I put about 60k miles on that car with nothing other than changing oil, brakes and tires. When it hit 90K, I decided to sell it. My now wife and I were in our "lets get an SUV" stage. After selling the GTI, I brought home a 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo:

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This was a fun purchase and served me well for a while. I spend a lot of time on the beach, surf fishing and this was exactly what I needed to get me where I wanted to go. That is until the trans started to poop the bed. We decided to trade it in on a new car for my wife a 2014 Acura RDX AWD. She still has this today and loves it. I took over driving her 2010 Acura TSX:

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I drove this for another 2-3 years and finally got to a point in my life where I could start the search for a "project car". I've always liked BMW, but never owned one. The E90 was a favorite of mine, and of course I preferred the LCI. The search was on. After 6-8 months, I finally found my car:

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It has 106K miles on it, but you'd never know by driving it. I can't believe how well it has aged. The car originally came from Texas, so it is rust free. That is a big deal for me living 40 minutes north of Philly. There are a lot of rust buckets around here. Shortly after buying the BMW, I was able to upgrade my daily as well. I stepped up to a 2018 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road:

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This gives me the best of both worlds, reliable daily transportation that has the capabilities I need, and fun weekend transportation when I'm feeling sporty.

Now to get into my plans for the E90. I've decided to go with an OEM+ look and feel. When I bought the car, all 4 rotors were scorn and uneven (evidence of a "pad slap"). That needed to be corrected. I purchase a complete replacement kit thought ECS and replaced all 4 corners:

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I knew with the mileage the suspension was tired, plus I wanted to go a bit lower. I decided to go with the H&R Sport Cup Kit. I've used H&R products in the past, and liked the quality, plus the car isn't driven daily, so I was good with the sport kit over the touring. I also replaced the front and rear sway bar end-links and installed M3 lower control arms and torsion arms in the front:

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As for the wheels, the style 189's were nice, but I've always liked a clean full face mesh wheel. I went with the Sportline S8 in 19X9.5 front 19X10 rear, with a 12mm H&R spacer kit up front to push the wheels out a bit. I must hand it to Alan at **********s for helping me with the wheel and tire purchase. I've always done everything myself. This was the first time I trusted someone to point me in the right direction, and in my opinion, he did a fantastic job.

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Here is how the car sits now:

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It goes into RT Tuning for an alignment and possible rear fender roll next Monday. My next job will be to tackle the valve cover. The gasket is leaking and with the known PCV valve issues that these have, I've already purchased a replacement cover. Once that is done, I'd like to do an M-Sport front bumper, M3 rocker panels, and replace the windshield (it has 2 small shots in it and is pitted something awful).

I'm glad to have been able to share this story. Thanks for taking time out of your day to read it.
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Last edited by jtom83; 12-10-2019 at 02:34 PM.. Reason: Pics didn't show at first
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      12-14-2019, 11:49 AM   #2
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Seems like alot of cars to own in a short time, glad to see you never lost the passion.
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      12-14-2019, 03:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
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Seems like alot of cars to own in a short time, glad to see you never lost the passion.
Very true. Thanks!
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      12-18-2019, 10:07 AM   #4
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I really like those wheels on your car, they look great! I might consider a set for my Space Grey coupe..
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      12-18-2019, 01:18 PM   #5
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Nice backstory, and very well written
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      12-18-2019, 02:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
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I really like those wheels on your car, they look great! I might consider a set for my Space Grey coupe..
Thanks!
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      12-18-2019, 02:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Nice backstory, and very well written
Thank you! I appreciate the kind words.
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