You could say that life is nothing but a collection of moments in time, and those moments can define our lives. Through the endless intersections of time, space, and destiny, friends are introduced, spouses are met – and if you’re a gasoline boss, dream cars are acquired.
Seth Temin graduated from the University of Colorado in 1982, and his 1976 graduation was a 2002 BMW. The year 2002 cemented a little relationship with BMW that coincided with fate nearly eight years later.
In 1987, BMW released the E30 M3 on the American market. Shortly thereafter, Temin saw a Xenoprot-red up-natur-Beige 1988 M3 in dealer showroom. His first thoughts were that it was 2002 on steroids – the dream car – but, unfortunately, it was also an idea he could never afford.
Then, in 1990, when Temin was searching for a used Toyota 4Runner in local newspapers, he stumbled upon an advertisement for a 1988 M3. This was before the age of cell phones and the Internet. The short publicity in the classified ad described the red-over-beige M3 in South Dakota with an asking price of $24,000 ($54,000 in today’s money).
Why was a South Dakota dealer advertising a BMW M3 in Boulder, Colorado? He caused a scam, but Temin was overwhelmed by curiosity, so he called the number. It turns out that the dealer did take the M3 in the trade, but they dealt mainly with trucks, and it’s no surprise that they weren’t so lucky selling the M3 in South Dakota. The dealer was advertising it in Boulder, hoping for better results, and after receiving Temin’s call, he missed no opportunity to seal the deal. After their conversation, FedEx-overnighted dealer Temin posted a single Polaroid photo of the M3 – the pre-internet equivalent of a text message.
Taemin blushed when he received the photo, but rationality prevailed, so he called the merchant to moisten him with thanks for the initiative, but also to tell him that it was out of his budget. Unfortunately, according to the dealer’s secretary, the dealer was not available – he had already left for Colorado to deliver the car!
cocky? Maybe – but fate has a way of faking fate.
The next day the dealer called and said, “I’m here in Colorado, and I have an M3. Do you want to see it?” Temin didn’t have time, and said no, but after traveling hundreds of miles, the merchant was persistent. “What if I meet you on the way to work?” They arranged a meeting point off Interstate 25, midway between Boulder and Fort Collins, on Colorado Route 66.
When Temin stopped by his 2002 movie ’76 and first set his eyes on Zenorot M3, it was blown up. It looked completely new, a clone of the one that sat in a BMW showroom a year ago. It barely broke, wearing only 12,000 miles on the odometer, and was even equipped with the optional wood trim—a rarity for the E30.
For Teimen, a public defender at the time, the moment was bittersweet; He really can’t afford the car. Being such a good seller, the merchant dismissed this trivial detail and said, “Tell you what: why don’t you take it for today?” So they stood in the morning sun on a deserted exit ramp, exchanged keys, and Temin set off on the M3.
In a short time, the M3 lived up to Temin’s expectations. When he described that first drive some 32 years later – while grinning – the exuberance in his words was evident: “It rips!” The M3 engine was what it sounded like, and indeed, 2002 was on steroids. After work, Temin took her to his mechanic, where he received a full health certificate.
Well: there was probably a way he could afford it. After all, the MSRP for a new 1990 M3 was $34,950, making this new example almost a relative bargain. Temin and the merchant took his time, and they met over dinner, the price was negotiated, and the pot fixed.
As amazing as it is, Temin’s story with the M3 was just the beginning. For the majority of the next three decades, he used it as a daily driver for the 50-mile run between Boulder and Fort Collins. He eventually found a Toyota 4Runner for the winter, but that didn’t stop him from installing snow tires and shredding powder on snow days for several seasons. The E30’s composite, continuous chassis, dressed in suitable winter rubber, transforms his driver into a deity among men in the snow. (Fortunately, Colorado’s dry climate and lack of salt roads did not take the toll that eventually led to the demise of many E30s in more hostile environments.)
Thanks to that fateful morning, Temin had the chance to live out the dreams of a generation who came of age and craved the E30 M3 when it was new, and subsequent generations have discovered and craved it since. However, driving a shiny red BMW with racer-boy fender flares and an ostentatious spoiler wasn’t without risk; And the postponement of the Reagan-era 55-mph national speed limit that ran until 1995 didn’t help matters either.
On one occasion, Temin hit a fast trap at 80 mph, but was clocked at 74 mph on his radar gun. His mother gave him an Escort Passport radar detector to keep him out of trouble, but the officer was unimpressed. Later, in court, Teimen asked the attorney general, who is also a motorist, if he would leave him pointless if he could prove he had a license to go 74mph. The prosecutor was a little amused, and decided to play with him.
That’s when another twist of fate occurred. When Temin scored the M3, he got a random license plate MPH 074, which means that technically, he is she did You have a license to read 74 MPH! But he still had to pay the fine.
Today, the Temin M3 shows 224179 miles on the odometer, and the actual number is close to 270,000 thanks to a fit of broken odometer gearing. In the past 10 years Temin has repainted the car the original red and re-covered the front seats, but the car is otherwise original. Other than a moment of forgiveness rather than permission when his teenage son took it to high school and immediately got a speeding ticket, Temin was the only driver of the M3. I have always served him faithfully. It was not stuck in the snow and never broke. He has religiously maintained the car, but apart from routine maintenance, consumables and clutch replacement, the engine, transmission and even suspension are all original.
But when for the first time in a dutiful 32 years, the M3 wouldn’t finally go through with emissions, Temin decided it was time for a mechanical update. He’ll have the local S14 specialist Mark Hutto fix the engine to Evo III specs, and my shop will work on the suspension and other parts. After that, Temin plans to continue driving as it was and eventually will leave the car to one of his children.
While updating the M3, Temin has three Volkswagens to keep him busy: the 1968 Karmann Ghia Cabriolet, the 1979 Beetle Epilogue Edition, and the 1987 Vanagon Syncro with the Subaru SVX engine swapped.
For the past three decades, the Temin and M3 have been a local legend in Front Range in Colorado. He had hundreds of offers to buy the car on the spot, countless free traffic lights and gas station talks. One of the most iconic BMWs of all time, the E30 M3 heralds an era when the M badge was exclusively reserved for true motorsport models.
There is a certain magic to be found behind the wheel of the E30 M3. Many of us have been lucky enough to get a taste of this magic on short occasions, but thanks to a moment in time and destiny – and a perpetual merchant a few states away – Temin has lived on this magic for the past 30 years. –Alex McCulloch
[Photos by Peter Thompson and Seth Temin].
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