Thanks for the tips
First I will look for loose or cracked vacuum lines. I hope they are easy to find (clear or white, right?) I saw a post in the archives about testing for vacuum leaks with starting fluid. Seems that since I might have ignition leaks, I'd better pass on that method.
Next I'll check out the coil dealie spark plug ends. I found a post listing old part # 000 159 35 42 and new part # 000 159 36 42 . Does this sound right?
I'm intrigued by Dalton's suggestion to make a $5 diagnostic tool. I found a post by stevebfl (06-10-2000 07:35 pm) where he wires a diode between the battery pos and the diagnostic socket in question. But he ends by warning that "One should not do this unless you have appropriate service info to use the results and understand the system." (I guess that since I can't even find a decent diagram of the car's engine that rules me out.)
94 E320 Wagon, 170k, totalled in 2006
2002 BMW 525i Wagon, 75k
1991 BMW 318is (two of 'em)