Beautiful weather, unbelievable European cars, seafood, beer, and a very broken E30 would summarize what was EUEX ’19. This past weekend, the ECS Tuning crew went south to Hutchison Island, Georgia for the European Experience show and, in classic fashion, I broke my E30 and had to trailer it home. Again. What a trip.
At 3:30 am Thursday morning, we assembled here at ECS Tuning for the long drive down. While everyone else made the drive in one shot straight from Wadsworth to Savannah, I had to take a detour several hours out of the way to meet up with my goofball friends in Tennessee. On the drive down, my radiator developed a slight leak. No problem, I thought, as I plugged it with a temporary fix. Fortunately, we had a little wiggle room in the marketing budget to provide next-day delivery for a replacement radiator at my rented house in Savannah.
With that being my only issue on the 9-hour drive to Chattanooga, I felt confident in all my recent work (which was extensive) and departed early Friday morning after a few hours of sleep with my friends in our BMWs. We were quite ready for our long-awaited beach trip, so radiator be damned, we hustled to make it in time for a solid lunch and well-deserved relaxation on Tybee Island.
The drive down was rather uneventful. There is always a surreal feeling when a pack of loud, brash, pavement-scraping BMWs thunder down the open road in the early hours of the morning. No real hiccups, except stopping for a side of the road bathroom break South of Macon, GA made the anticipation for what was set to be another amazing weekend around Savannah grow. Oh, we met a cop who just stopped to admire our cars and take a group photo with us. Props to that guy.
Despite its amenable behavior during the drive, upon arriving in Savannah, it was clear my plugged radiator wasn’t holding pressure and was still slightly leaking. While I waited for my new radiator, I decided removing my hood would help keep temperatures down during stop-and-go driving through downtown Savannah and on Tybee. This seemed to do the trick, and was quite a site as I rumbled and popped my way down the cobblestone streets, frame-banging and backfiring out of my straight-piped and swapped little convertible. No leaky radiator was going to ruin my weekend, I surmised.
To be fair, it didn’t. If you remember last year’s coverage, I had to deal with a different leaky radiator and still did fine, so I wasn’t worried. At least, I wasn’t worried until I did something very, very stupid. After our beach time and some wonderful seafood for dinner, we attended the BMW pre-meet there on Tybee. Now, I normally don’t give in to peer pressure. In fact, it is usually me doing the pressuring since I’m a bad influence. However, this time, I was somehow goaded into doing a burnout as I left the meet. This, as it turns out, was a mistake.
All the new brakes, tires, differential, and other driveline components instilled confidence in me that I could do one stupid thing and get away with it for the weekend. What could go wrong? A lot, it seems. I dumped the clutch and went to peel out, ready to show off my diff in person to my friends who had only seen videos of me doing some skids and burnouts during my testing of the new setup. Unfortunately, my clutch and flywheel were much more worn out than I previously thought. The last bit of life on them was spent as the new driveline bits, tires, and brakes held the wheels in place while the flywheel spun against the clutch in a quite public, incredibly embarrassing, and very smoky display of stupidity.
That was it. My clutch, flywheel, and maybe more went up in a big, stinky, shameful cloud. Three hours after meeting up with all my friends from across the country for this weekend there in Georgia and I had already ended my fun. I managed to limp the car back to the house where I drowned my shame in a few cheap beers with my friends who gave me endless amounts of grief for my dumb, dumb, dumb decision making.
The next morning, after shaking off the previous night, we were slow to get going. I had to get the rest of our merchandise to the ECS tent, but our group had other plans. Those plans included sleeping in, dragging our feet to the carwash, and eventually arriving at EUEX around noon.
We rolled in, parked, and enjoyed the sights. Well, my friends enjoyed the sights. I sulked around the show on-and-off the phone with towing companies and U-Haul trying to sort out my transport back up north. This severely hampered my involvement, but I still had a wonderful time walking around and seeing the builds, enjoying food, and picking up some swag from the amazing vendor turnout.
One quite noticeable aspect of the show was the number of returning builds I remember from the previous year. Seeing familiar cars and faces was amazing and it also gave me a chance to just enjoy the weather, some Island Noodles, and sip a few drinks with my friends. As I get older, this seems to be the general game plan for meets. More sitting around and enjoying each other’s company rather than walking up and down the show looking at cars seems to happen every year, this year being the first I spent the majority of the time under our canopy surrounded by our cars.
As the Saturday show ended, I hopped in my broken BMW and limped it once again farther than I should have to a U-Haul about an hour outside Savannah. No one had one-way tows I could afford except U-Haul, so I had to get the truck and trailer before they closed that evening. Talk about an expensive mistake.
With the trailer secured, we went back to the house for more libations. Well, my friends celebrated, anyway. I put on Mars Attacks and passed out, exhausted from a full day of worrying about my car and my ego. Knowing I had to make a twelve-hour drive home with a truck and trailer contributed to my conservative behavior, but mainly, I realized how much work I have ahead of me thanks to one stupid choice.
All said, the reality is that the clutch was on its way out already. My dumbassery may have expedited its disintegration, but it would have gone at some point. I rationalized that it was better to have happened before I left rather than on the road, but still.
Oh well, live and learn. I had a blast regardless. I love that my friends and I have this tradition of driving our BMWs several hundred miles just to enjoy a day or two on the ocean with a few hundred other European cars. European Experience has been a new staple in our show going schedule and, despite a lower attendance than the previous year, we are already looking forward to 2020.
Regrettably, I was not able to enter the limbo contest, which I have on good authority I would have handily won. If, you know, my car would go into gear. So that was sad, but, whatever. It could be worse. It could always be worse. (Please don’t hear that, little E30. You’re perfect, no matter how broken you are.)
See you next year, European Experience. Maybe this time I can make it down and back without a trailer….