Back in August, I stumbled upon a neglected BMW 8-Series for sale on Craigslist. In need of an ice racing car for this season and willing to take on the project, I got the seller down to $700 after a prolonged negotiation. After installing a new fuel pump, it fired right up, and with new brakes and a fresh registration, it was ready for the road... or so I thought.
Remember, the 850i hadn't been started for a year and hadn't moved in an even longer time. There was no telling what would happen. So I enlisted the help of Digital Editor Aaron Brown to follow along on my maiden voyage with this Subaru WRX STI just in case, while my friend Mathias Rios sat passenger.
I didn't exactly know what to expect. I had driven a first-gen 8-Series once before, but that car was an automatic, and broken in many ways—I didn't really consider it representative of what an 8-Series should drive like. This one, in theory, anyway, should be better. It has just 81,000 miles on the clock, after all, and it's a manual.
Setting off, there wasn't much drama. The engine revved like it was supposed to, the transmission clicked into each gear without issue, and the car moved forward. No weird noises or vibrations to report. The steering wheel wasn't pointing straight, but that's no big deal. The ride wasn't great either—chalk that up to 20-year-old tires and trashed electronic suspension. The steering itself was pretty vague, though I think that's normal. It's far from a sports car, that's for sure. But it did run and drive.
So Nothing Went Wrong?
Not exactly. An anti-lock brake light came on, so I guess that's not working. Also, the check engine light seems to come on every time I turn on the headlights. Oh, and there was exhaust smoke. A lot of it. If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was a major problem. But remember: this car had been sitting for years without being driven. The smoke was likely a bunch of deposits in the drivetrain and exhaust just burning off. By the end of the drive, all four pipes were blowing clear.
The short drive had an added benefit: highlighting the awful interior smell created by the bad gas I spilled inside. By the time Mathias and I arrived back at the shop, we couldn't get out of the car fast enough, and that was with the windows open. I've had a few readers reach out with suggestions on how to cure it, and I'll be sure to try them out soon.
So Now What?
I need to source new tires and get an alignment. After that's done, I should pass New York's state inspection so I can continue road testing for more issues. Right now, top priorities are reducing that toxic interior odor and mitigating the battery drain (the car dies after 24 hours of sitting). I also have to locate that coolant leak I mentioned in the last update, and figure out how to secure the batteries from moving around in the trunk (a requirement to pass tech at ice racing events).
Luckily, I still have a few months until the first race begins, so I'm in no real rush. Hopefully the car stays running until then. Stay tuned.