Breaking Expectations

I am proud to show off one of my pride and joys in life, my 2005 BMW 330xi that has just hit 200,000 miles this weekend. This was my first purchased car when I was 23, a proud moment in my life – a new premium luxury car with my own hard earned money only a year after graduating from college. It was a status symbol, but by no means the main reason why I have such passion and pleasure for driving, it’s just in my soul. I admit I wasn’t nearly as knowledgeable about cars back then as I am now, thanks to the fact that German performance cars are high maintenance, I almost feel like a mechanic.

Can you tell a man’s character by how he treats his cars or possessions? I will tell you about my relationship with my car and you can be the judge. I wanted my car to express my taste, be unique, and stand out from the many other 3-series out there. I started modifying the car before the payments were even halfway finished, from exterior and interior aesthetics to intake and suspension work. The style of my car gradually evolved from a sporty-aggressive-blacked-out-slammed back to a stock-comfort setup as I got older (and having a dedicated weekend car). Through out the years of modifying and upgrades, there were also a lot of time and money spent repairing and maintaining the car. I even keep a detailed spreadsheet on all the work done, and I would be embarrassed to reveal exactly how much extra I’ve thrown into the car. I’ve tried to do as much of the mechanical work by myself as possible with the tools available, from changing rear suspension, interior upgrades, electronics hard-wiring, to engine maintenance. While most people would suggest selling the car sooner and upgrading to a new car, I felt I was committed to mine and considered this my expensive project car. I’ve learned a great deal on the mechanics and electronics of cars and it gives me great pleasure to know I can fix something with my own hands, with the help of my friends and the internet. I also spent countless hours detailing the car, memorizing every curve and corner of the body inside and out. Perhaps I did grow a bond with my car affectionately named “Boba” (he’s black, round, and shiny). On another note, giving your car a good name helps your friends (especially females) grow a bond with your car as well.

There were times where I wish I had a new car, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of Boba. Like everything else I own, I stay pretty committed to using the most out of it until its lifespan is beyond the intended amount, i.e. a DSLR with shutter actuations well over its rated quantity, or using a smartphone or tablet for 2-3 generations. Perhaps that’s the Asian side of me showing through. As the years went by witnessing such a large population of E46 (2000-2005 3-series) enthusiasts made me want to keep the car even more. This was going to be a classic someday, regarded as one of the best bodies and engines BMW has ever produced, even though that applies specifically to the M version, the fact that my all-wheel-drive version is in the same family made it just as special. Even through the seemingly constant repairs and maintenance, through many of my own personal doubts, I told everyone I would try to hit 200,000 miles on this German performance car. I’ve had many fun road trips alone or with friends in Boba, and he’s been faithful and reliable on all of them. We’ve been racing together. We’ve smiled, vented, sung, and cried together, and yes, even made love in. We’ve traveled together enough distance to circle the earth eight times.

I have truly enjoyed most of my time spent inside Boba, and while most people only see their cars as a tool to get from point A to B, I argue that if you are going to spend a third of your life commuting in your car, why not make it an enjoyable time? You commute to work to make money to make your life better. I am not suggesting major performance or aesthetic upgrades for everyone, but a little customization to anything you own can instantly transform it to something uniquely yours or even easier to use. I really don’t mind the few times I get stuck in traffic because I have 6 sources of music available: iPod, Sirius-XM, radio, CD, Pandora, Spotify. I have a perfect console that is customized to my liking, such as custom docking stations for both satellite radio and phone. All electronics (iPod, radar, dashcam, satellite, phone charger) are hardwired for a clean wireless look. I never let any trash stay in the car, it is always ready for presentation, and people are always surprised my car is over 9 years old! Your car is one of the most expensive things you own, why treat it as just a tool when it can bring so much pleasure into your life? I can admit that sometimes I can’t help but smile when a good song is on, the weather is perfect, and it’s just me and the road.

This is my tribute to hitting a milestone in one of my greatest pleasures in life, driving. You don’t have to be a gearhead or engineer to appreciate the shear pleasure of driving. It is an internal feeling anyone can have, being on the road, being in control, cruising down engulfed in your own thoughts, or music so loud you can’t even think, enjoying company with friends in a small intimate space, or being your escape or hiding spot. I encourage more of you to treat your cars with love and care, as part of your family, and it will really repay with more joy and happiness in your life.

Below is just a Happy-200k photo shoot for my Boba. He’s far from perfect condition, he’s rough on the edges, but he brings joy to my life!

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1 Comment Breaking Expectations

  1. Lanh September 29, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Awesome Tony! I’ve had my G35S since 2007, and she (Suki) currently has 207,9xx miles. You can say I enjoy driving her. 7yrs and she’s only seen the dealer 3 times…Everything else is done by me or my dad. I totally get where you’re coming from!

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