2010-06-13

Exit Yeller-Screamer, enter Bubba

Yes. It is true. Yeller and I are over.

The ordeal with the Koni shocks was having me look at converting the car back to stock shocks, and with the original ones being near end-of-life, at least competition-wise, I would have to buy a new set. Car's needing new brakes didn't help either.

All in all, four months of the car being at first unpredictable, and virtually undriveable, spending a total of two or more weeks in the shop, and ending up uncomfortably noisy for a street car sucked out all joy out of driving the Honda. And it's all about the joy of driving for me.

Who better to help me with my motoring blues than the company that has made the joy of driving -- Freude am Fahren -- their corporate tagline, the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

Yes, their tagline in the US is the ultimate driving machine, but we all know better.

Before making the decision, I spent a long evening with a friend, drinking and brainstorming what could possibly replace the S2000 and still be a step up from the high-revving, 240-horsepower screamy roadster.

With the spec Miata in the picture, a comfortable street car became a more acceptable option, since I did not have to compromise performance on track anymore, having to choose between a cushy ride and crisp handling at 10/10ths.

A number of cars were brought up and rejected, until the BMW Z4 was mentioned. I have always been partial to the lines of the flame-surfaced body of the car, but was not convinced by the performance. The M coupé sounded more like it, but I did not want to give up the bugs-in-your-teeth joys of driving a convertible, and I was not aware that the M version was also available in roadster trim.

This got me intrigued enough to take one for a spin. And I liked it. A lot.

Next step was to find the car that I would feel like taking home.

Now the thing to consider with these cars is that only 5070 of them were sold worldwide before BMW stopped making them last year, and a mere 3042 made it to North America. Which means that finding one for sale at a dealer across the street from home the first weekend you look at the cars is highly unlikely.

Yet this is exactly what happened. The dealership within walking distance had a silver M Roadster with a tan top for sale, in about the sane price range. I tried it, and liked it, but was not ready to pull the trigger on the first car I came across in my search.

The sales guy pulled the old trick of claiming he had a buyer coming in an hour, so if I wanted the car, I should act fast.

I said that I am okay with that, and if the car was there next week, I'll come again and we can negotiate then.

He said that I was sure to lose the car, and I bid him a good night.

The next day, Monday, I got a call from him saying the buyer needed another day, so I could come in and get a chance to snatch the car from under that other guy's nose. I said okay and came in to negotiate, but we didn't agree on the price. They low-balled me on my car's trade-in value, and I got them to come to a reasonable offer, but when I tried to get a better deal out of them still, they would not budge.

So I walked again.

The next day, I decided to widen my search to CraigsList and sure enough found a Z4-M listed. It was about an hour away, in Half Moon Bay, but the ad said that it had 2700 miles on it and included all the cool options that I wanted in my new street car, and cost the same as the car near home.

When I went to see it, the car did not disappoint, and I signed on the dotted line the same evening.

The dealer offered me 500 less for the trade-in on my Honda, but agreed to swap out the performance parts for the stock ones that I kept (brake pads, front sway bar, and the shocks), and said I could have the performance parts back once they were off the car. That sounded like a good deal to me.

So here it is, my new little Bimmer. Built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 2006.

I will call him Bubba.