The King of Cool: Carlos’ 1989 BMW M3
Words and photography by Courtney Cutchen Photography
Let me preface this story with the following statement: I have been sitting on these photos for quite some time. Last year, in a mad dash to gather the stories I wanted to be told, life happened and plans inevitably changed. Regardless of time passed, though, this car and its owner remain some of my true favorites of the community. I am very excited to be sharing with you the story of one of the raddest dads I know, Carlos Tejuco.
I met Carlos through mutual friends at Performance Technic. The first car of his that I encountered was his Technoviolet E36 M3, which remains one of the most outstanding examples of the chassis that I’ve seen. Then, when I finally got to meet him in person, it was like an explosion of personality. His enthusiasm for life has an almost viral effect, and it’s hard not to get excited about the things he talks about.
If there are three things you need to know about Carlos, it’s these: he lives for his family, his dogs, and his cars. One of those cars is the one you see here. It’s an ’89 M3, which any BMW lover will pay tribute to as a flagship vehicle of the marque’s history. Whether you love it or turn up your nose at its specs, it’s pretty tough to deny its importance to the M bloodline.
For Carlos, though, the car’s history is just one of the reasons that it stands out as one of his all-time favorites. To understand his sentimentality for the boxy little car, we have to go back in time.
“I first fell in love with M3s when I was 14 or 15,” he said, “when I had the opportunity to drive my uncle’s track-prepped E30 M3.” This car is ultimately what ignited the enthusiast fire for Carlos. He learned to drive a proper manual in that car, and he can remember all the little details about it. “Diamond Schwarz, a 2.5L block, full suspension, and barely street legal.” (Music to our ears.)
As the years passed, Carlos found himself around the later descendants of the E30 M3, and fell even deeper into the BMW chasm. His first experience with exceeding 100 MPH in a car was in his high school friend’s father’s E36 M3, which solidified his future need for an M of his own.
The car that we see here is one that was a long time coming. After 10 years from falling in love with his uncle’s M3, Carlos ended up buying one himself. He had embarked on the journey that any classic car lover has been on—searching in and outside of your home state, battling dishonesty about rust and lack of maintenance, and hours of scrolling on forums and Craigslist. One late night, though, after over a year of scouting, all of that effort paid off.
“I was searching the forums around 11PM, and I came across a well sorted Lachssilber Metallic M3 right in my own backyard of Sacramento,” he explained. Within 15 minutes of the ad going live, he rushed and sent a message to the seller. The excitement of wondering if this was the one must have been exhilarating. Then, literally the next day, Carlos was in the driver seat of the M3, checking off the boxes for an inspection, and doing the deal before the work day was over. Turns out, it was the one.
If you came here to read a build sheet about this car, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. One of the things I am most interested in conveying in my stories is how these cars make people feel. Why is this specific vehicle the one that gets your blood pumping? What about it makes you excited to get in and go for a drive? At the end of the day, no one is attributing their core love of a car solely to the dyno sheet. There’s more to it than that (hopefully).
“Everything about the car just screams ‘1980s’ and I really dig that,” Carlos said. “The body lines are defined and bold, the engine is an unassuming four cylinder that screams like a bat out of hell. It’s a no frills, analogue package, the way a proper sports car from this era ought to be.”
Getting down to the specifics of this M3, there is one thing that Carlos does pride himself in, and that’s wheel choice. If you know him, you know that every M3 he has owned has been outfitted with BBS LMs at some point.
Carlos explained that while there are other E30 M3s rolling around on LMs, this set in particular is a bit different. Because the LM isn’t technically a “period correct” wheel for the car, he had to do some serious digging to find one of those rare sets that would fit the E30 (without having to modify the wheels). The set we see on the car is also staggered, and measure in at 17x8.5 in the front and 17x10 in the rear. The shoes do a beautiful job of filling out those M3 flares and they give the car a nice, squat stance.
In terms of mods remaining, there’s not a whole lot that Carlos says he wants to do. He would ideally love a 2.5L build and an Evo SRD interior swap, but those are items that aren’t necessarily a must-have at the moment.
Ultimately for Carlos, it’s the nostalgia of the M3’s history and the way that it is received today that make it so much fun to drive.
“When you see both young and old folks alike stopping to ask questions or snap a picture of the car, it really highlights to me how cool it is that something like this can bridge fairly large generational gaps of gearheads.”
One day, Carlos hopes to pass on this car to his daughter, Emma Grace. At the time that we shot this story, she had just been born and Carlos was entering full dad mode. I highly recommend that you follow him on Instagram (@ctejuco) to keep up with his hustle, family, cars, and truthfully, hilarious captions and IG Stories.
Lastly, Carlos would like to recognize his wife, Johanna-Joy, for supporting his addiction to cars and furthermore, joining in on it.
“Not only has she been supportive, but she’s well versed on the car and isn’t shy to speak to it when we’re out a local events. Seeing her get that invested and knowledgeable about the project far exceeded any expectations I had of her supporting his habit.”
On that closing note, I think it’s safe to say that the rest of us are happy to support your habit, Carlos. Keep building and stay rad.