Introducing Andrew Kemp & F30diesel.com
Andrew had one of those “cheater” TDIs. Now what?
I haven’t always lived in SoCal, only a few years now. It’s been an interesting experience thus far, but I know it’s only temporary. I’m a country boy at heart. One thing though, California has a car history and culture that rivals the best.
I’m Drew, I work in IT in Southern California, and this is a chronicling of notable events in my automotive past. I’m sure there are tons being left out; way too many broken knuckles and stacks of dead presidents on green paper, but here it is, abridged I suppose.
In the beginning: lowriders
If we start at the actual beginning, lowriders were my first fascination with automobiles. I bought Lowrider magazines at the corner grocery store while my mom was shopping. This was at the height of SoCal gangster rap and I was about to get my license. I spent hours dreaming of driving a big Lincoln with hydraulics and all the fixings. If it was big body and had a resemblance to boats, I was all over it. Looking back on that time, I shudder to think of all the beautiful cars that have been hacked to pieces for hydraulics. Meh.
Just as the “OMG GIGANTOR WHEELS” phase hit and 22”-24” were considered the monster, must-have wheels, I had 20” chrome wire wheels on a new body towncar. I loved the way the car sat on those wheels, just so elegant looking. Of course it required razor blade tires to fit but I didn’t care, it was a beautiful car and it belonged to me.
I started to obsess about keeping the car nice and a beater was bought and driven daily, and weekendly, and… all the time really. The towncar just sat in the garage and the payment slips were still due. I was over the “lowrider” phase and attention had shifted to more power.
There is a subset of lowrider culture that is focused on performance and speed. That seed sprouted into Chevelle SS and Nova, Fastback Mustang, and Grand National. As much as I wanted to own one of those cars, it just wasn’t practical to my lifestyle or my financial situation at the time.
Driving home from my fathers house one day, I saw a Mitsubishi Eclipse sitting on a small lot. Now before everyone sighs and rolls their eyes, this was nearly two years after the F&F [ The Fast and The Furious ] movie came out. The hype was over. This Eclipse caught my eye and it was a price I could afford. I shelled out too much money for that car, but it served me well for a long time.
Or lack thereof!
The first thing I did was remove the girly wheels and put some stockers on. It was a base RS so a GSX wing was obtained and installed. I also dropped it on Eibach Sportlines with 18”, 5-spoke rims. An HID retrofit and new stereo head unit were also installed. This car was beautiful and drove the road on rails. There was only one problem, it was slow.
As soon as I bought the 2g Mitsubishi, I joined 2gnt.com. That site is actually where I met Brian, shouts. [ Hey, buddy! – bd ] Anywho, after discovering the relative slowness of my car compared to many others on the road, the GSX was discovered.
Enter the GSX
Immediately I was in love with the 1Ga GSX. Those pop-up headlights, that aggressive body look. (Hey, for the early 90’s anyway.) I was born and raised in the midwest, so AWD was a nice thing to have for winter and the turbocharged motor would give me the power I was desired.
I decided to find a GSX to use as a “beater” for the 2G. Well, you know how that went. The power unlocked something that made me want to go faster. Did you know you can mildly launch a GSX in the snow? I sure didn’t but—wow—it had zero issues doing so and I couldn’t help but literally laugh out loud at the line of cars in my rear view mirror that were unable to take off while my “beater” is flying through the snow like it’s dry pavement. I digress.
Many hours were spent on 2gnt, DSMtuners, (the old) DSMtalk, TeamNABR—if you were part of the culture you know who I’m talking about. I could recite parts of the Chilton manual regarding the timing belt because I was nutso about making sure it was right; anytime my gut tingled I ripped it all back apart to start over. This was legitimately the first car I had done more than change the oil. It was life altering to experience some of the hardships of budget in-your-moms-garage wrenching.
17psi on 110 octane
The GSX quickly took my full attention and the 2G fell to the wayside. Never fear, she only sat outside for a year and half before enjoying a permanent garage space. The next eventuality occurred—the GSX needed a clutch if I wanted to go any faster. I was burning the stocker at 17PSI on 110 octane, obviously, heh. A metric butt load of parts were bought for the car and she was torn apart for upgrades.
I ran into issues as most projects do. I continued to work on the car for a few months, then I slowly stopped going out to the garage. The sheer number of while-you’re-in-theres was astounding and I was overwhelmed with how much was left and where to start. The garage was completely covered in car parts and my attention had shifted to other areas of life for a while.
Losing track of time
Finances became more real to me as I was a homeowner at that time. It ended up to the point that I wouldn’t even remember what needed to be installed and where, or if I was missing something. I can jog those areas of memory sometimes when the stars align, but most of it is gone.
Although I owned the 2G and the 1G, I didn’t want to/couldn’t drive them, so I had a few different irrelevant vehicles during that time. Trucks came to the forefront because race car. Truthfully, the risk of being stranded with something blown up was not remotely desirable so a truck would be necessary to tow the car to/from the track.
I bought a Suburban K2500 with 4WD for way too much money and it was janky. This car was not inspected to my usual scrutiny for some reason, can’t remember that one. It pulled the trailer fine though so no complaints, save for the fuel economy being 10mpg no matter what the driving conditions.
Super Duty Duramax
As soon as the terribleness of the Suburban was discovered, the Super Duty came to shine. There was a part of me that wanted to get some type of camper or pull behind trailer and, of course, me wanting the best of everything, diesel was my drug of choice. The unmatched power and potential for fuel economy and longevity compared to gasoline has garnered my attention. The time came, but a Super Duty was not on the list, it ended up a GMC Duramax.
This Duramax was amazing. Being a GMC, it had many upgrades and styling differences from the blocky, ugly Chevy variant of the time. I loved that truck. 4WD, Z71, off road tires, climate control. This thing was paradise on wheels. No leather or sunroof, but at the time that wasn’t important to me. The fuel economy wasn’t as bad as the Suburban, diesel was consistently cheaper than gasoline, and it was much nicer.
Enter the TDI
As the Mitsubishi cars gathered dust in the garage, my thoughts ventured to the sedan. Top Gear likely had something to do with that with all the four door Mercedes and BMW cars they drive. Diesel was still my deal though, so the options were limited. A continual thought in my mind was to pick up a Jetta TDI. Best fuel economy for the buck, crossing-your-fingers for 250k miles of service, and back-to-my-roots styling but with four doors.
I decided to take the plunge in late 2012 as it made sense financially. The truck was traded in and a brand new, special order TDI was awaiting me at the dealer. This was the first car that I’d ever purchased brand new for myself, so it was a big deal to me. That’s been it since late 2013 when I sold my old DSMs (to mostly car family and close friends) and packed all my stuff for SoCal.
The TDI gave me 48k trouble free miles mechanically and it’s barely broken in, but we’re all aware of the hot water bath VW has waiting. That lead to an unexpected change, as the TDI was supposed to be a 10-year car.
Diesel still being my choice, mainly due to the fuel economy and torque, the options were limited. I couldn’t afford the new Jag that’s coming out. I couldn’t bring myself to drive a Chevy Cruze—ick. Mercedes and BMW are too expensive to buy new for what I wanted.
I began to scour the CPO market for options. The plan was to wait until mid 2017, “after all the rush” on the TDI buyback was finished. Luckily, the market was barren of vehicles I would consider so it wasn’t difficult to maintain this plan.
Then she came along. I am the proud owner of a 2015 BMW 328D M-Sport.
The point of all this is simple—share day-to-day life with this car. My old TDI saw lots of different places. I want this BMW to see more. This car is genuinely better in every way to the TDI and I want to enjoy it. I’m planning road trips for 2017 and I’m planning to take photos of the car in all the destinations she sees. There will be monthly fuel economy and service/maintenance updates as well as any DIY or other modifications I decide on and my thoughts/feelings/complaints on the car in general. Should be a wild ride. Or hopefully easy and cheap, but let’s be real, that is completely and entirely unlikely with a BMW.