Finding and buying the right car is never an easy process. When
you are looking for a car capable of matching your enthusiasm for performance,
you have an even more complex dilemma. Certainly there are worse problems to
have to deal with but, once you buy a car it’s yours, so making the right
choice is a key to a happy automotive relationship.
Today we meet Forza community member Jon Barrow, an IT Project Manager in Great Falls, Montana —Gamertag JuanFlaco.
Jon is a guy who knew exactly what he desired in a car, then sought it out and,
amazingly, got exactly what he wanted. Barrow’s dream car was a “hidden gem”,
but he didn’t find it rusting out in an old abandoned barn. Instead, he hunted online
web sites and car forums for a single model that was already upgraded for
spirited driving and the occasional track day.
Initially Barrow’s only requirements were a 2006 BMW e90
330i, with the six-speed manual, and the sport package (for the incredible
seats). He wanted a nice daily driver that had potential for his interest in
SCCA racing. Of course he had considered the M3, but it was out of reach. He
liked the thought of the naturally aspirated N52 motor; unique to the 2006 model
330i (later models had a turbocharged powerplant). As a dyed-in-the-wool BMW
fan, Barrow believes that everyone should own a BMW inline six cylinder at some
point. This was his chance to experience “the ultimate driving machine.”
Buying a car that has been upgraded and customized has both risks
and benefits. The upside being that the performance enhancements typically
don’t add much resale value, so you can realize a tremendous savings over
building a car yourself. The risks, on the other hand, are numerous: Was this
car upgraded and cared for? Do the upgrades
suit your vision and style? Did the previous owner buy quality components and
were they installed correctly? Fortunately for Barrow, when he found his car,
all the answers were a resounding “yes.” He considers himself extremely lucky
to have found an extensively upgraded car, primarily with OEM dealer installed
parts and complete records.
Now that the search for the right 330i was complete, Barrow
only had to close the deal and take ownership. The previous owner was happy to
see the car going to an enthusiast, and Barrow was happy to be saving
significantly on a car built to his specs. After settling on a price and
shaking hands over the phone, Barrow flew 1,500 miles away on Memorial Day
weekend to pick it up. He then spent the weekend driving home getting to know
his new wheels. As he neared his garage the odometer just rolled past 50k
miles. Mission accomplished.
Barrow has his father to thank for his affliction of car
lust. Although his father passed away when Barrow was quite young, he knew his
father had a passion for beautiful cars. In fact his father owned none other
than a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, which he sold shortly after Barrow was
born. His father regretted parting with that car, and carried a photo of it
around in his wallet until his passing. Barrow now has this photo as a
testament to his pre-destined love of beautiful cars.
Although Barrow never experienced the kind of father-son
automotive bond shared by building a project together, he has been building
that part of a relationship with his eight-year-old son. Barrow’s
reintroduction to a love of cars came when he discovered Forza Motorsport 2. He
fell in love with the livery editor and competed in league racing with guys from
the arstechnica.com gaming forum. Purchasing the BMW and participating in SCCA
solo racing is, as he calls it, “a natural evolution” of his love for Forza.
Recently Barrow his son and the BMW participated in a fundraiser car show to support
a local cancer treatment facility. It got him thinking about what it means to
be a part of the automotive community, both online and off. It really brought
him full circle, with his own loss, and in the importance of sharing the time
with his own son and giving back to the community. This last point is important
to Barrow and he looks forward to future opportunities to help others through
his love of cars.
Barrow and the BMW also recently took part in the “Top Gun
Shootout” in SCCA solo racing. He raced the BMW in the STU class against
drivers from three other clubs in Montana. There were 105 cars at the event,
which was held at the state emergency services training center-- a facility
designed for Highway Patrol driver training. There was an extensive road
section with a few twisties and a long banked sweeper. The car held up well at
this event and throughout the season and Barrow has learned a lot. He has plans
to downsize his rear tires from the 19-inch 275’s to get the car into the STX
class where he may be more competitive. To learn more about SCCA Club Racing
check out the SCCA site.
As you can see the car is spectacular and somewhat of a
Enjoy these photos: