The Pride of Frankenstein

The BMW M Coupe

Photo by Patrick Chaupham. 2017.

It started off as a walk to coffee with my friend Patrick, who I’ve known for over 5 years. At some point he casually throws in, “…you know I teach a course in drifting, right?” Whaaat? That’s the thing about Car Love — it’s often so oddly juxtaposed to a person’s real life that you can know a guy for years without discovering it. Turns out Patrick is a freak for his freakazoid BMW M Coupe, which I have to say… is totally rad. His quote: “as far as I’m concerned, there’s only one BMW: mine.”

Here’s a recap of how he describes his car:

It’s a total freak!!! It’s weird in every way. The wheel offsets are whack and make it harder to source proper wheels. The suspension was cobbled together and makes the entire car squirrelly, yet somehow is still a total joy to drive. Everything creeks and squeaks. But I know all those creeks and squeaks. That, to me, is Car Love. It’s not buying some kind of perfect, finished product off a lot — it’s taking a vehicle, pushing it hard, tinkering with it and then living with this monster you’ve created. Like, there’s this grumble of the exhaust, it’s guaranteed between turn 3 and turn 4 at New Hampshire speedway. Every time. And I know exactly how hard I have to push between second and third gears to get up that hill.

And yeah, it has personality. Not everyone loves it, of course. Across Internet forums, among the racers, or at the local concours, people call it The Clown Shoe (or just The Shoe). Sometimes it’s called E36/8, or just the M Coupe. A lot of gearheads like it. A lot of moms don’t. You want that in your car. If everyone likes it, then your car probably has every corner shaved off it and it’s been focus-grouped to death. No thanks.

Even the history of it seems rogue. Some team of crafty engineers in a dark production factory in Spartanburg, SC decided to build a freakish run of Z3's with an actual roof, an M-engine, and spare suspension parts from various 3-series. Something about it has given owners permission to go do something unique with it. Its weirdness inspires customization and each owner I’ve met has made their’s unique.

Oh, and by the way, everything about the car is a bit of a challenge. Which is kind of funny, that’s what people say about me. It’s quirky, it’s unforgiving, it’s weird looking, it’s finicky and temperamental, but get to know it and treat it with the respect and it will always love you back. I guess that’s me as well.

A deep dive into photography, with professional photographer, artist and director, Josh S. Rose. Top Writer: Photography and Creativity.

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