This Young Enthusiast Saved His M3 From A Hurricane And Is Now Helping With Its Aftermath
Photography by Mike Kuhn
While Hurricane Matthew was pummeling the East Coast after ravaging Haiti, the rest of America and the world was quickly becoming enamored with a man they’d never heard of before, Randy Jalil, who had just gone to extreme lengths to save his E30 M3 from the potential effects of the storm. I’d be surprised if you hadn’t seen the now iconic images somewhere recently, it was a top trending topic on Facebook for a whole day. After the metaphorical storm passed however, we still had questions. What was this guy up to now that he became a sensation over night? So I did a little Facebooking, only to find that Randy is actually doing his best to use his new found audience to raise awareness and funds for Hurricane relief. I caught up with him and got the story behind his car and the T-Shirts he’s promoting for a good cause.
Ted Gushue: Tell me the story of your E30 M3 which you so courageously saved from the Hurricane recently.
Randy Jalil: Okay, well I bought it in 2008 up in Westchester County, New York, which is where I’m originally from. I had a E21 that I started off with. That was my first car in high school, and I built that car with my father in my garage in Florida, so I moved back up to New York, picked up the E33 after I sold my E21, and I’ve had it since.
TG: How were the prices then?
RJ: I got it just before prices went out of control. When I was in middle school, I actually got a ride in the car, got to sit in the back of the car. I was in about 8th grade or so, and the owner that I bought it from, his daughter went to high school with me, so I had some kind of tie with that car.
TG: Very cool, and when did you move down to Florida?
RJ: I joined the Air Force in 2009 and I actually just recently got out. I was in the Air Force for about seven years as a crew chief working on F16s.
TG: Awesome. So you know how to wrench.
RJ: Yeah, exactly. I fell into it because my father’s actually an automotive technician, so he’s been working on cars for years.
TG: What kind of cars did he drive when you were growing up?
RJ: Actually, nothing but older BMWs, to be honest with you. He’s had a bunch of E28 5 Series. Right now he has an E28 that he’s working on. That’s actually one of the cars that was in the garage, and we also have an older 7 Series in there as well. It’s an E32.
TG: Where are you living in Florida?
RJ: I’m living in St. Lucie, Florida.
TG: Walk me through the whole process that lead to your E30 being parked in the living room.
RJ: Being big car guys, we wanted to protect as many cars as we could, so I told my Dad “I think my car can fit through my front doors,” so my first initial reaction was to take a tape measure, measure from door sill to door sill to see how much space I have, and then I take that tape measure to my car, and E30’s, I’m sure you’ve them in person. They’re not very large cars.
I put the tape measure on the back of my spoiler, and then I realized it was a few inches smaller. I had plenty of space, just looking at the tape measure, so I brought a friend over to help me out, and we just checked to see if it would clear the doors at first, and sure enough it did, even with the side view mirrors on. I thought I’d have to remove them, but I didn’t.
TG: Do you have front steps? How’d you get it up there?
RJ: The only thing that I had to do was because I have lowering springs on the car. I didn’t lower the car too much from factory, but all I had to do was use a couple wood planks to get over the ledge on the front entrance of my house, and that’s pretty much it, it rolled right up in there.
TG: What was in your garage while u had that in there?
RJ: That was a 7 Series and the 5 Series that we housed.
TG: How quickly did people start picking up on this story? It seemed like overnight.
RJ: I posted the photo the day after the hurricane, or the photos, because I had fun with it of course. I guess that’s really what blew up out of proportion is that I made it into somewhat of a story. I went to sleep with the car, and the next morning I had breakfast with the car, hanging out with the car essentially, so I think that’s really why I blew it more out of proportion because people could see the love that I have for that E30.
It was all over the internet in hours. The first major magazine that posted it was Motor Trend, and then after Motor Trend, it was everywhere after that, all over the world. I’ve had people from Argentina reach out to me, Germany, Indonesia, China, Australia. The list goes on.
TG: Do you wonder what would have happened if you had left the car outside?
RJ: The hurricane was literally 20 miles off the coast from where I live here in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and the worst of it was around 1 to maybe 4 o’clock in the morning, but it was nothing but high winds and light rain, surprisingly, but during a hurricane, the biggest fear for people here in Florida is flooding, so in all reality, putting it into my house, it was at the highest point it could possibly be in.
Luckily, it didn’t hit us that bad. It was just some high winds, which can still cause damage. We couldn’t really see anything, to be fair. Our entire house has aluminum shutters on the windows. Most of these houses in Florida are built to hurricane spec to withstand that, so generally everyone has shutters to prevent any kind of impact on their windows.
TG: Incredible, so have you become something of an icon for enthusiasts?
RJ: Yeah, it’s a great feeling. A lot of people reached out to me and have sent me messages like, “You, sir, are my hero. I’m really happy that you take care of that car. You really deserve that car.” And because of that whole media attention and going around the world, probably in about five days or so, I gained about 15,000 followers roughly.
RJ: I’m almost at 30,000 followers because of that, so what I want to do is to spin it to something positive, which is why I designed a T-Shirt with another gentleman, and I’m trying to actually raise some money for Haiti and the destruction wrought by this hurricane. Right now we’re set to donate the profits directly towards Haitian relief. It’s great that I’ve picked up all of this attention for parking my car inside, but it’s gotta be focused on something positive in the wake of that disaster.