Well, two months ago I was finally in a position to buy the M3 I had wanted for so long. The '89 Honda Prelude Si I bought in '91 had been a good car, but it was definately showing it's age. At the time, the Honda was exactly what I had wanted. As such, I was willing to wait for exactly the car I wanted. I'm glad I waited.
My goal was a '97 or '98 Black M3 4D, manual with luxury package (which includes the M-contour wheels) and Harmon Kardon stereo. Oh yeah, and low miles. You can laugh now if you want.
Early on it was clear that the two dealers in Minneapolis would come close but never really have THE car. Although, I did go into Motorworks BMW to buy one they had advertised, it wasn't meant to be. Seems some barely 18 year old with a trust fund bought the '98 M3 they had a few days earlier. Then, the day I went in, they found out the kid totalled it three days after buying it. We all shook our heads after hearing that!
A month passed and my search turned to the internet. Every couple of days I would search for my car using four or five different search engines. Each time I'd get close, I'd write down the cars' options, miles and prices. Over time, I had a pretty good idea of what I'd be paying and what was out there. I just hoped that what I found wasn't 1700 miles away!
Finally, I found exactly the car I was looking for at a Honda dealership in Chicago. It turned out to be a '97 Black M3 4D, manual, luxury package with M-contour wheels, HK sound. And it only had 20,000 miles on it! They were asking $32,900. I basically bought it over the phone. I have to laugh because my long distance negotiation went like this:
Me: Okay, sounds like what I want, I'll give you $31.5.
Dealer: No, we just lowered the price from $35.9, so we're firm.
Me: Ah, ok, ah, I'll take it.
The next morning I hopped on a plane to Chicago. My dealer picked me up from the airport. Two hours later I was driving my new M3 back to Minneapolis. Unfortuately, the only way I could stay awake on the way back was to drive fast, but that didn't seem to be a problem. Nor has it been since.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope you're as happy with your Bimmer as I am with mine.