Last week, I wrote some advice about spring prep for cars, especially ones that sat in storage all winter, which outlined several best practices to make your first drive everything you hoped. If only I had followed my own advice. This weekend, I returned to my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee for the Riverside Spring Meet IV in my trusty E30. As is also tradition, I broke several things, made new friends, and spent the weekend with my Tennessee family enjoying the beautiful cars at the show.
Friday morning I turned my BMW on for the second time in six months. After a bit of an oil top off and a hefty coating of flex seal on the convertible top, I set out on the roughest drive between Akron and Chattanooga I have ever taken. Normally a nine-hour drive, with pouring conditions it became a grueling 50mph boat ride down the highway through absurd traffic that ended with me pulling into the Riverside pre-meet shortly after 10:00pm, almost twelve hours from my departure from ECS. Both my dog and I were soaked to the bone sitting in the car despite my feeble flex seal attempt (I blame Billy Mays). Regardless, we put on smiles and quickly found a few of our friends who had just finished dinner.
After catching up in the rain outside the Chattanooga Library, we all hopped in our drenched stancy cars and went straight for beers to fill up the fridge at their cabin. From a long, earsplitting, spine-crunching, and drenching ride down, I was quite ready to relax on the couch with a beer and my friends. Then, as if to tell me my weekend plans were not mine to make, my car decided to behave in true Riverside traditional fashion.
Let’s back up a bit. In 2016, I was headed to Riverside from Nashville in my then nearly stock E30 daily driver, the very same I took this weekend. After breakfast with friends in Murfreesboro, my timing belt tensioner snapped in half and destroyed the head, pistons, and valves. This prompted the build that made my convertible what it is today, which could arguably be described as a blessing in disguise.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Riverside that year. The following season in 2017, my freshly finished E30 was featured in the showcase there, where I finally was able to join my friends for a weekend of fun in my hometown. On the way back, however, no less than a mile from my garage, I hit a very deceptive bit of repaved road that was actually more like an impact crater and turned my single piece oil pan into three or four pieces.
Then, in 2018, before I could even get to Riverside, my radiator sprung a leak and I wasn’t able to get a replacement in time, so I had to take my WRX and mostly missed the show. Needless to say, Riverside and my E30 have a repeated history of unfortunate disasters. This year, I was not surprised to experience more of the same.
Any other time, my E30 is perfect. Only Riverside seems to have this hex on my car. Immediately after stocking up on beverages at the foot of Signal Mountain, my wipers became quite literally possessed. One second, they’re fine. The next, they’re slapping in directions I previously thought impossible for fixed wiper blades. I shut it off quickly, but the damage was done. The splines on the studs for the wipers were completely stripped. Pouring rain, midnight, and a no wipers meant I had no choice but to tell the boys I’d see them tomorrow since I wasn’t about to drive blind for forty-five minutes south to their cabin.
Not deterred, the rest of my Tennessee family arrived right about the time I managed to drive to my parent’s house. A harrowing short trip from Signal to the riverfront with my head sticking out the window later and my E30 was in the driveway waiting to be fixed in the morning before the show. In the meantime, the rest of my friends scooped me up for a chill evening at City Cafe to escape the rain and finally enjoy some good food to kick off the weekend.
The following morning, I managed to fix my wipers prior to leaving for the load into the show. I put my car in gear, backed up, and spun my tires in my parent’s yard. In the dark with no visibility from a lack of wipers, I had parked slightly off the driveway and had dug my rear tires into their side yard, effectively burying my E30 and spraying the sides with pounds of mud. Now, finding a car wash was imperative, which added more time to our show prep and caused us to be fashionably late.
Fortunately, we were not disappointed with the quality and vibes from the show. Despite the rain, attendance was still fairly high, positive energy was everywhere, and fun was most certainly had. However, the problems with my finicky BMW were only just beginning…
Look for part two to hear the story and see the rest of the gallery shot by some incredible photographers kind enough to share their work with us! Special thanks to Ais and