The Journey to Another V8

It all started in mid-2015.

When Chevrolet announced the 2016 Camaro SS would have 55 more horsepower than my 2013 Camaro SS and would be 200 pounds lighter with a refreshed interior and would come with a new “track mode” it began make my Camaro feel a bit dated. The 5th Generation Camaro exterior has aged well, but as an enthusiast, I can admit the interior is not exactly timeless. Throughout its life, many claimed it was outdated, some believe it was from the moment it was released in 2010. The combination of more power (*Tim Allen Home Improvement-grunt*), weight trimming, new looks, and all the new driver modes were enough for me to begin feeling the new car itch. An itch that made me begin to contemplate trading in my Gen 5 Camaro SS for the new Gen 6 Camaro SS.



Researching and Waiting

Like with any performance car release, you get little pieces of information slowly, very slowly. It always starts with Nurburgring pictures, or a quick video with the car covered black and white camouflage ripping around the track.

May arrived and Chevrolet officially announced the Gen 6 Camaro with the initial specs. That was probably enough to send some fanboys to their dealers begging to place an order. Additional specs hit the forums as rumors, which in many cases were true and later confirmed.


I read up on the new Camaro daily finding new bits of information or finding the newest leaked test mule pictures. In my mind, I become an unofficial expert on the Gen 6 Camaro knowing everything from the paint production code I want to the dual mode exhaust production code.

I read up on the new Camaro daily finding new bits of information or finding the newest leaked test mule pictures. In my mind, I become an unofficial expert on the Gen 6 Camaro knowing everything from the paint production code I want to the dual mode exhaust production code.

Then the waiting continued……how much is this thing going to cost?


Being a car enthusiast and an adult

Many months went by with rumors building regarding the price for each of the Camaro trims levels. The V8 was a must have in my book, so I constantly watched for any news of 1SS and 2SS trim level pricing. Camaro owners always have the buffer on the top end of the Corvette; the Camaro will never cost more than the Corvette in its base V8 model SS, the ZL1 and Z/28 are different stories.



It is the same type of speculation that the Porsche Cayman will never be better or more expensive than the 911. I used this assumption to estimate what the Gen 6 Camaro may actually cost. I nerd out, preparing spreadsheets with hypothetical pricing and comparing that to what I can actually afford.

In August, Chevrolet announces the MSRP and the options list pricing leaked out in the weeks following.

In 2013, the Camaro 2SS I purchased had a sticker price of $40,000. I got it at a real bargain, thousands less than that. Though I have progressed significantly further in my career, and could afford more, it felt like a silly decision to spend a new $45000 or more on car that I intended to keep for only 1-2 years before moving to a more family-sized vehicle. No matter how much I played with my spreadsheets, purchasing this new Camaro was never going to be a good financial decision, but the feeling in my stomach was not going to go away. I already committed in my mind to a new car. Thinking about getting this new Camaro set off a lightbulb in my head. I could get something better, used, and for less money. The search began….


Finding the alternative

I am a huge fan of V8 engines. The Camaro was the only new V8 car on my radar, so I began to turn my eye to used performance V8 engined cars. An amazing warranty was a must in the used-market. I was constantly learning on how to wrench, but the cost of a major failure was my primary worry, not how to fix it. A good friend of mine had bought his last 3 cars through CarMax and he has said nothing but good things about them, besides reading Doug Demuro’s CarMax adventures on Jalopnik are enough to turn you into a believer. From my extensive research, my friend’s word, and Doug, I decided it would be a smart decision if I purchase a car through CarMax.

I began to search CarMax for prospective cars. Through endless searching I found myself being pulled in multiple directions, sporty coupe:

  • BMW E92 M3
  • Audi B8 S5

Or rugged truck:

  • Tundra TRD
  • Tacoma TRD

I realize I queued this up by saying that I am a huge fan of V8 engines, but the Tacoma TRD made the list while not being a V8, along with its V8 brother the Tundra TRD because I am also a fan of trophy trucks and Toyota’s TRD packaged trucks give off that vibe to me. The Tacoma was the first to drop from the list. It was not a V8 but it was a strong contender, I had test driven one at the Baltimore Auto Show and sat in this TRD Pro Tundra.


The Tundra TRD was also cut for now, but will more than likely become that future family sized vehicle I mentioned after this car choice. It was down to the BMW E92 M3 and the Audi B8 S5.

I began….you guessed it, by nerding out with spreadsheets weighing pros/cons and options of both cars.

Through my extensive research I decided the E92 M3 was the best choice for me, besides there was an emotional aspect; I always wanted one and through the wonders of depreciation I can actually now afford one.


Finding the right E92 M3

I decided where I was buying a car, and I decided what car, now came the struggle to find the one with all the options I needed to have. One of my biggest regrets about my 2013 Camaro SS was that I bought it with a sunroof. I am 6’6, and the Camaro already did not have enough headroom. I used to tell people I knew when I needed a haircut because my hair would touch the Camaro’s roof, so a non-sunroof car was a must. Luckily, the M Performance division at BMW like to use this amazing substance called carbon fiber. All non-sunroof E92 M3’s come with a carbon fiber roof, because weight reduction bro.

The interior spec was my next concern, BMW’s are not shy to use crazy leather color combinations. While Josh may like his Fox Red seats, that’s not for me, so a black interior was a must. I was also looking for an M3 with a DCT gearbox. My car will be a daily driver. You do not want to shift gears in traffic all day. Besides, there will be a possibility of my wife needing to drive the car. An added bonus that was not necessary but always helps the resale value was the Competition Package known by its BMW order code ZCP.

So to recap:

  • Exterior color? Who cares?
  • Interior color? Black.
  • Roof? Carbon Fiber.
  • Gearbox? DCT.
  • Options? Competition Package.

I downloaded the CarMax Android app, created an account, and saved an M3 search so it would alert me when new matches arrived. Many M3’s came and went, and came back and went again. I was waiting until February to make this car purchase for two reasons. The first, weather, I did not want to buy an M3 in the beginning of winter, and I think I made a good call because we had the biggest snowstorm ever in my area. The second reason was a financial decision, I obtain my yearly raise and annual bonus around February. Always easier to think with a full stomach (or full pocket of money).

February came and I began seriously looking for the M3 and what happens? I ramble about my future M3 purchase so much Josh buys one! In the end, we got to compare notes on options and best practices on finding the right M3.

Unfortunately, all the cars that fit my requirements start dropping like flies. The night before I head to CarMax my #1 and #2 candidates are still available, and it was so close I cannot tell you which is #1 or #2. I wake up the next morning, and only one is left, a 2012 Melbourne Red M3 with the Competition Package.


The CarMax Appraisal Trip

I walk into CarMax on a quiet day. The woman who would become my salesperson greets me at the main desk. I tell her I want to get my car appraised and depending on the appraisal I wanted to buy a specific car.

She has me fill out some information about me and about my Camaro. I warn her that I am extremely anal about my car and no one else has ever driven it. I request to sit passenger during any test drive.


I meet the appraiser gentlemen, he was a quiet guy. He informed me that, because my car was under 36,000 miles and less than 3 years old, they do not need to test drive it. Basically, if the car had any issues they would just get Chevrolet to fix it under warranty. So I feel like an idiot stressing about someone driving my car when they do not even need to. Oh well, it’s all part of being an enthusiast I guess. I watched him do his appraising magic and I thought some of the spots he was checking for repainting were kind of odd but what do I know? I just write about cars on the internet. He finishes checking his boxes and we go inside while I wait for him to deliver the appraisal to my sales person.

They give me the number. I won’t get into the exact specifics, but I will say it was the bare minimum I was going to accept for my car. If I wanted to sell it myself I imagine I could have made an extra $2-3k, but that extra $2-3k is not worth the time needed to post ads, answer a bunch of calls, have strangers test drive my car who do not even want it, etc.

I tell the salesperson I would like to move forward with ordering a car, the red M3. We look it up in the computer and it is in Florida. So to get it to the Baltimore, MD area will take 14 days to arrive and cost $300. I accept the terms, but began to worry that my bare minimum 7 day appraisal offer will even drop lower. I get a call from my sales person a day later informing me that the car checked out in Florida and that the car will only take 6 days to get to my location. Even then, there was some concern that I would just barely miss my appraisal offer window because of a two day long ice/snowstorm, but it arrived on time and was ready for me to check out exactly 7 days after ordering.


Time to buy

I get the call that my M3 is in Baltimore and ready for a test drive. I wait until I get off work and drive through the rush hour traffic to arrive nervously at CarMax. I park near a Maserati Quattroporte, wondering aloud if someone is attempting to trade this in? Do they not know the depreciation on a Maserati, especially the Quattroporte? I enter the CarMax, approach the receptionist desk, and request my salesperson. While waiting for my salesperson, another salesperson approaches a relatively well-dressed gentlemen in the lobby.

CarMax salesperson: “How can I help you?”

Gentlemen: “I would like to get my (mumbled year) Maserati Quattroporte appraised.”

Godspeed my friend.

My salesperson greeted me, obtained my driver’s license information, and then handed me off to a trainee so I could test drive my new-to-me M3. I took a glance at the dash and noticed that the mileage was at 033330 I took that as a positive sign that it was an M3 with all 3’s.


The CarMax is located right on a highway so we blast up and back and then tossed in some windy backroads before heading back to the store. I was accustomed my Camaro LS based V8. It has low end torque and only revved to around 5000 RPM. The M3’s S65 V8 was a different animal entirely. You are able to rev the engine out to over 8000 RPM. I loved the side bolstering of the seats, it reminded me of some Recaro’s I have sat in. My Camaro seats felt like they were made to hold wider people. Another huge bonus I noticed when test driving the M3 was the visibility. I drove my Camaro for over two years without ever being able to see the right front bumper, in the M3 I can see everything. On my Camaro, I added the 1LE performance bits. The front and rear sway bars and the strut tower brace, but the Camaro steering still felt a little loopy. The steering on the M3 is extremely solid. I have this amazing engine and I can put the car exactly where I want it through the steering.


My feelings after the test drive? I WANT IT!


I will not bore you with the details, but buying a car at CarMax has to be one of the simplest transactions I have ever done in my life. The only way it could have been easier is if the M3 was already at this CarMax location and I did not have to order it. Like Senor Demuro says buy your used car from CarMax! Especially if you need a longer warranty and peace of mind. I did, so of course, I bought a CarMax MaxCare warranty and drove off the lot with no buyer’s remorse.



Initial M3 Thoughts

I am in love with this car. It has been said that Lamborghini’s make video game sounds, well this M3 makes LeMan’s sounds. It makes noises comparable to the sounds that can be heard at IMSA races I have been to. The downshift rev blips alone are addicting.

The quality of the car is a step up from what I am used too. I am used to American cars and trucks and everything on this car seems to have the quality dial turned to 11. Driving it you feel like you are driving something special. You are cocooned in luxury, but somehow through all the luxury you feel like you are in a track car with just the right settings.

There is one flaw to my new M3.

My old Camaro was my first car. It was a car that I aspired to own, and I was fortunate to own it. In my mind, I put it on a pedestal, you always remember your first. It was a great looking car and made some good sounds of its own. The aforementioned flaw is…this M3 completely shattered my opinion of my first car, of my Camaro. I thought my Camaro was pretty great, but the M3 made me reset my scale. Everyone knows BMW M3’s are the benchmark upon which many other performance cars are blueprinted. I will always remember my first car, but I will smile thinking about it while at 8250 RPM in my second car.

To check out my car further, check out my M3 page on my Wheelwell profile.




  1. Would be more interesting read if you shared how much Carmax gave you for the Camaro and what you paid for the M3.

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