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  1. So over the past two years or so I have been casually searching for a BMW touring. This is partly because of the fact that I am always borrowing more spacious cars from my parents/girlfriend/etc to move things like car parts/furniture/etc., and partly because I just love the look of a Euro wagon. My casual searching has mostly been a result of being bored on a lunch break or a random weeknight evening when I run out of youtube shows to watch and I've read everything on wibimmers. Usually I will find something interesting, maybe save the link, and eventually forget about it. Sometimes I would do some searching every day for a week or two, sometimes I wouldn't even take a glance for 2 months. Through some research, prodding from friends and family to move into the 21st century, and this browsing around I decided that my ideal car was an E91 LCI wagon, and it had to be RWD (better handling, less maintenance), sport or msport package, and not have a beige, gray, or oyster interior. For a long time I also looked for a 6-speed, but manual LCI E91 wagons are incredibly rare, and the rarity goes up exponentially when you start considering various options and RWD. I did find a few, but all but one were xdrive, most were low optioned, and many were high mileage or well worn. The couple that were actually nice were either sold within minutes of being posted or being sold at absolutely ridiculous prices. It doesn't help that EAG was/is scooping up a lot of the nice ones and flipping them at massive markups, and there is a 50+ page thread on e90post of people looking for them. Also, auto-to-manual swaps are now being done successfully and cleanly, and it is becoming more well documented, so the perfect car with an automatic doesn't have to stay that way. All that considered, I opened up my search to automatic cars, but to have an automatic it would have to tick EVERY other box for what I wanted. About three weeks ago I stumbled across an Autotrader ad by a private seller in Santa Fe, NM, that caught my attention. It had the right color combo, lower miles, looked very well maintained, and the price was very reasonable. After contacting the seller to determine that it was still available (turns out he is the GM of the local BMW dealership, a big BMW enthusiast, and generally a really great guy to deal with), running the VIN and finding out it had an awesome options list, and getting a clean Carfax report from @wasnt m3 (thanks again!!), I made a deal pending a complete inspection by the dealership. The inspecting came back great with no surprises, so I booked a flight for myself and my brother, took two days off work, and spent the next week and a half unable to focus on anything else. After a 2 hour delay in my connecting flight we landed in Sante Fe around 2:30pm, took a Lyft to the dealership where the seller worked, went for a quick spin around the block, and took care of the paperwork. We tossed our backpacks in the back and settled in for the 1,450 mile drive home. The car is a 2011 328i Wagon with 72k miles (now 74k thanks to Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and half of Wisconsin). It is space gray metallic on black leather with the all important sport package that adds the shadowline trim, sport seats, sport steering wheel, and most importantly on RWD models, Mtech suspension that sits lower and stiffens up the ride. It also has premium/comfort/cold weather packages, Harmon Kardon stereo, navigation, and a few other nice options. The car is an automatic, but so far I like it more than a lot of autos I've driven, and it will be welcome with all the traffic and city driving that I end up doing. It's also girlfriend friendly, which is a huge plus because we have tandem parking at our apartment. The 'DS' mode with paddle shifters provides some entertainment even though the shifts are far from DCT quick, and with some screwing around on side roads I found it holds gears as long as you want it to which will be nice if (aka when) I take this autocrossing. It also has a few OEM upgrades installed by the PO, including a complete BMW Performance Aero kit that includes the front and rear bumper, diffuser, and side skirts. I actually prefer the look of this kit over the msport bumpers, so it really sweetened the deal. It also has the padded/perforated Msport steering wheel, OEM style 225 19x8 and 19x9 wheels, OEM roof rack, and my favorite part: BMW M performance exhaust! Only non-oem addition is 50% window tint on the front door windows and 30 or 35% on the rear doors/quarter/hatch glass. Here are a few pics from the drive home! On I-25 leaving Santa Fe: Somewhere on I-25 near the southern CO border: We stopped for the night around 1:30am in Sterling, CO. with just over 500 miles driven. Got on the road early the next morning with the goal of getting back to Milwaukee by midnight. Gas station shot somewhere around Des Moines, IA just off I-80: And my favorite picture from the whole thing, this amazing sunset somewhere in IL off I-88. Had to pull over in an exit to snap a pic: Not bad for my usually crappy phone pictures. Highlights of the trip include basically all the scenery on the first day in NM and CO, finally finding a Jimmy John's after what felt like 100 consecutive exits with nothing but Subway and Arby's in Nebraska and Iowa, and glowing bug splats all over the car after driving through huge swarms of fireflies in northern IL. We made it home around 11:30pm. The car is super comfortable but still really fun to drive, doesn't feel much bigger than my E36, and I'm overall really happy with it. Near future plans are to clean off the layer of bugs covering every forward facing surface, replace the water pump, thermostat, serpentine belt and idler/tensioner pulleys (the N52 likes to eat the belt if it breaks), and give the whole thing a nice detail inside and out. At some point I'd like to do the 3-stage 330 intake manifold and a tune to bump power from 230 to 260hp. Other than that, I'm just going to enjoy it as is for now!
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