Wednesday, June 29, 2016

#SharkNoseDiary 3: Paul the Parts Guy.

Service: $95 (oil change, coolant reservoir patch, trunk liner fix).
Parts: $50 (original BMW cassette stereo, '87 7 series original instrument panel, extra indicator stalks, original BMW floor mats, on-board diagnostic computer)
Chatting to a stranger for 2 hours about BMWs: Priceless.

Every car should have a name. A couple years back, I had a Volkswagen Passat which I named after Sir Alan Rickman's most beloved character -- no, not him -- Hans.

It's been almost a month since I bought my nameless 1987 BMW 635CSi -- it's about time to name it

Growing up with 90s action movies, I follow this odd tradition of naming my cars after movie villains -- hence Hans, my previous car. This car is German, so it has to have a German-sounding name. Beyond Hans though, it gets surprisingly hard, because there aren't a lot of good German movie villains outside the Die Hard universe.

[Previously on #SharkNoseDiary: I bought a 30-year-old BMW, which is yet to be named. Until now.]

After a brief debate, we settled on Waltz, as in Christoph. Although he is technically not a German, he has played more than a couple of, um, memorable German characters. And because the guy is awesome.

Anyway, on to the restoration.

As I said last week, this rolling restoration will probably cost me some money, especially if I want to be thorough with this work -- BMW parts aren't cheap, and BMW mechanics charge what you'd usually expect to pay for a 3-bedroom condo full of BMW parts. The only way, it seems, is to find some used parts myself.

So to Craigslist I went. I am in the market for some original period-correct parts for this car -- namely, to qualify for my local DMV's collector vehicle status, I needed to swap out the mid-90s silver Pioneer stereo back to the 80s BMW tape deck with a Bryan Adams cassette still sitting inside. The original seats, which are still in my living room, would have to go back inside the car as well.

Luckily, I found just the guy -- Paul.

Paul, a tow-truck driver slash mechanic who is parting this otherwise very immaculate 1987 BMW 7 series, graciously agreed to sell me the original stereo and BMW rubber floor mats for $50. Never mind the fact that he lived about an hour outside the city.

When I made it to Paul's residence after work, his driveway looked like a Walmart parking lot. There are two classic Volkswagens sitting in his garage, two more Volkswagens on his driveway, a flatbed truck, with an Audi sitting outside his driveway. Oh, and there's the BMW too.

I was prepared to toss him $50 in exchange for the parts I was looking for and go on my merry way. However, curiosity took over as I looked at his BMW. Why would he want to part out this car? The car looked amazing for its age.

"Oh, I got this car for free from an auction company. I don't quite need it so I was just going to sell some parts and see who would show up on my doorstep," he said.

I like this guy.

"What are you going to do with the parts?" he asked. "Oh, I just bought this $2000 E24 6 series." "Oh, you mean the one that's been floating around on Craigslist for the past two weeks?"

Turns out, he also regularly scours around Craigslist looking for project cars.

Upon knowing that, he proceeded to rip out the dashboard and gave me a bin full of parts, including the on-board computer, the indicator stalk and the windshield wiper stalk, and the entire instrument panel (which includes the cassette stereo). He also insisted that he would only charge me $50.

I ended up chatting with him about old BMWs on his driveway for about two hours. He proceeded to tell me about his plans to restore his two 80s Volkswagens sitting inside his garage, the assortment of other classic German cars that he used to own, and how he wants to buy another BMW so he can drive it all the time. He even got me phone numbers to other parts sellers and mechanics that he knew personally.

Classic car owners are some of the best people. I defy anyone who tells me otherwise.

Anyway, a little update since my little trip to my mechanic: After holding onto my car overnight for a thorough inspection, I am happy to report that my car is officially problem-free. I was able to cross off a number of items on my to-fix list, including an oil change, fixing the leak in the coolant reservoir and the trunk liner. All at the cost of $95.

Although my mechanic did find a slight leak in the transmission... Oh well. That will be for the next visit.

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