The most recent articles on this humble blog have been an attempt to show that even in 2023, there are still “cool” enthusiast cars worth buying and modifying that haven’t been hit with the recent wave of price hikes. The next few articles in our series are going to not just affirm those sentiments but help give you, our dear readers, the confidence that enthusiast ownership is more affordable than ever. Yes, you read that right. In a time where eggs are worth their weight in gold and clapped out bimmers are fetching eye-watering dollar figures, keeping your old car or finding the right project is now a truly viable way to budget and save money. We’re here to tell you how, through your interest, you can pinch pennies and be better off with your crippling car addiction. 

In our upcoming series of articles, we’ll highlight some of the maintenance services our old cars require to stay on the road, what you need to successfully outfit your home garage with everything you need to keep them going, and some tips to stay motivated through it all. Follow along as we don’t just make these claims but show you through actual practice what a motivated enthusiast can do with little more than a small space, the right tools, and some prioritization. 

If you remember back to the COVID articles, I picked up a manual-transmission E83 X3 from a former ECS engineer. It was rotting in the field behind his barn and has been my budget “one car solution” daily driver ever since, even surviving some of these insane snowstorms up here in Vermont where I currently live. However, it’s about time to get back into project mode while I have a few days away from my law studies over spring break. As I write to you now, two feet of snow has blanketed my little mountain town and my X3 is just itching to go play in it. But before I can enjoy its “go anywhere” attitude, I have a few things to fix first.

This next short series of articles will use my project/daily X3 to show you just how much someone with limited time, space, and resources can accomplish. The results are (hopefully) going to demonstrate through actual practice what you can make out of even the least-loved cars and how you can do it without breaking the bank. 

First, we’re going to focus on basic maintenance jobs that are fairly universal to car ownership. Much of this will be common sense and maybe even things you’re already familiar with, so think of it as review. We’ll walk you through some preventative and regular maintenance that will ideally help you set a nice foundation for reliability. Next, we’ll move into some of the bigger jobs that many enthusiasts often prefer to simply acquiesce and allow shops to do. However, if you want to save money, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Don’t worry, though, we’ll show you just what you need to become fully self-sufficient in your garage.

That self-sufficiency brings us to the next topic, which will outline what a functional home garage should have to accomplish many of the “mid-tier” jobs that are more in-depth than simple maintenance. The stuff you don’t want to do but will eventually arise is what will end up costing you money, forcing you to sell your favorite car, and price you out of enthusiast ownership. Fortunately, with our advice, you should be able to keep your car and make it what you’ve always wanted. 

Finally, we’ll highlight some of the quagmires and motivation-killers that often prevent us from truly loving our cars. The stuff that doesn’t affect drivability but still drives you crazy. This is less about what you have in tools and more about what you have in motivation. How to approach these projects, prioritize where you need to focus your attention, how to organize your project goals, and how to do it all on a tight budget. Ideally, you’ll follow along as I do just that with my project X3. 

*Mike Day not included*

So, enjoy this little break this week and get ready to tackle those jobs you’ve put off. We’ll help you get started and show you how to do it affordably. Hopefully, this miniseries will prove just how affordable enthusiast ownership can be in 2023 and how to fall back in love with that car you’ve been neglecting for whatever reason. If I can find love and enjoyment in my X3 by redefining what cool is, fixing all the things that annoy me about it, and prioritize accordingly, then you can too. So let’s make this spring the season of DIYing together. Hell, maybe we can save some cool cars, find enjoyment in non-traditional ones, and learn a few skills in the process. Stay tuned, folks. We’re getting hands-on for these next editions of Tuned In Weekly. No more “do as I say.” Now it’s “do as we do!”