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  #1  
Old 06-06-2001, 12:55 AM
Mr. BILL's Avatar
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Am I nuts? I'm thinking of trading my '90 300SE with 245K on it for a '93 BMW 740i with 75K on it. I can buy it for $13K.(Kelly BB trade in value is $12.5). I love my 300SE, but I'm driving 3K-4K a month and I'm afraid I'll wear it out within a year.

Right now, the 300SE is almost perfect. It runs and looks new, inside and out. Most of its life, it's been a road car that has been well maintained. I'm just concerned that in a year or so, It'll be past it's prime and therefore not as reliable.

I also found a '91 740i for $6K with 140K on it. It's had the tranny rebuilt and some other fairly pricey things done. If I got this one, I'd keep the 300SE, sort of as a spare.

I really have no idea if the 740 is a good car or not. Any input will be appreciated.

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91 300E 120K
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92 BMW 525iM 120K
90 BMW 525iA 175K
85 300D 175K (sold)
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  #2  
Old 06-06-2001, 01:03 AM
mrbroche
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All I can tell you is that the maintence/repair on the BMW is HIGH, HIGH, HIGH!!!. I do not personally own one but my boss does and is always swearing about how much it costs to keep his car running. His is a 94 540I. Also know that in some years, there is a problem with the block cracking. I was looking into getting one before my boss let me in on the maintenence expense nightmare. He said he has owned several and has had a cracked block on two -- including his 540I at about 70K miles.
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  #3  
Old 06-06-2001, 01:27 AM
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Stay away from the 4.0 BMW V8

There have been all sorts of problems with this motor. First and foremost the early ones (up to '94) i believe, were designed with an alloy in the cylinder walls that was damaged by the sulfur content of US fuels. Basically the rings ground into the cylinder wall, causing at first a rough lopy idle (almost as if a bigger cam was installed) and if left untended almost complete loss of compression.
BMW did replace a lot of these engines under factory warranty and under a good faith warranty, I have seen several with replaced motors.
Secondly the 91 you mention is most likely "Badge Engineering" as some have put it, since until '93 it was 735i / il or 750 il. The 3.5 motor is actually far more reliable, but a bit sluggish in those cars. But it should be on par with a 300SE.
Lastly, the cars just dont last. The interior wears, falls apart, suspension, transmission and mechanicals shouldnt be an issue at 75K, but expect expensive repairs as you cross the century mark.
My advice, for the 13k that you want to spend - I would seek out a newer, younger 300SE, or sel, maybe a 91. The V8's are expensive to maintain, and the M103 has proven itself as a motor, (well except for the valve seal issue) but that is a relatively minor expense. The W126 chassis is timeless, and becoming extremely reasonably priced.
By all means however, stay away from an early W140. They are money pits by now.

Best of luck in your car search,
George Androulakis
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  #4  
Old 06-06-2001, 01:58 AM
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BMWs are no doubt excellent cars but,require much more specialized maintenence which has to be taken to an experienced BWM mechanic. Your need special tools to work on a BWM and the tools are EXPENSIVE. I found Mercedes Benz cars need very few special tools to do major work and regular maintenance. If you can afford to have it worked on by someone else all the time there is not a lot of differnce. You need a "BMW" and nothing else mechanic to get satisfactory performence and repairs dont right.
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  #5  
Old 06-06-2001, 02:28 AM
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Good replies, all! (BTW, the '91 is a 735i). I have also found a '91 300SE with 145K on it for $7000. It needs a drive shaft and the timing cover is leaking. Other than that, it's pretty nice. I think I'll give it a closer look.

I appreciate your input as I really love my 300SE. I think deep down I know a Benz is a better car long term. I guess I just really like the way a 7 series looks.

It's very sporty while the 126 has all the sportyness of a bank vault, but it's as tough as one too.
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91 300E 120K
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92 BMW 525iM 120K
90 BMW 525iA 175K
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  #6  
Old 06-06-2001, 09:18 AM
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Good info on the early V8s. many of the early ones had new motors put in them so early that they put the same crummy block back in. There are serial numbers that can ID the Alusil block from the Nicisil (sp). Every potential buy should have these verified.

I don't think BMWs have any more special tools than MB. Their repair procedures are often more difficult due to their emphasis on performance vrs ease of maintenance. BMWs also have been more in line with the Japanese with all their electrical gadgets. These complicated systems occurred earlier than on MBs and MB might have benefited from the industries experiences.

I have owned two BMWs. The first was a 74 2002 that I bought for my 16 year old daughter 10 years ago. My second is the 97 540i I currently drive. I have driven just about every MB going and none compare to this cars handling and performance. Some MBs might have the all out acceleration but none do as good at 100 let alone 120. It really is the "Ultimate driving machine". The 7 series cars aren't quite as nimble but are real road cruisers. I don't think they are any more expensive than a 140 "S" class to keep up. They would be a lot more expensive than a 126 "S" car.
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  #7  
Old 06-06-2001, 03:14 PM
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My experience of BMW has been very positive. They are generally extremely well built and a pleasure to drive whether on the limit or at tootling speeds. The 4 or 4.4 litre V-8 motor in particular is a delight. It spins fast and sounds great.

That said, the 7-er cars you're looking at are presumably old shape (?). If so, those cars are not as well built as an MB. If you are looking at present model 7-er cars, the build quality far outstrips current MBs. They really are bullet proof.

The comments about the dodgy cylinder bores are true, but at the mileages you're looking at, those faults will most likely have been remedied. BMW supplied new engines on a warranty or goodwill basis. In Europe at least, they were very keen to be seen to be sorting this problem no questions asked.

As for the badge-engineering that another poster warns of, you just can't badge engineer a 735i into a 740i: the V-8 car (740i) has, surprise surprise, a V-8 under the bonnet. The 6 cylinder (735i, 730i) has a very obviously in-line six. Also, the V-8 cars have the broader kidney grille of the 750i.

Personally, only the slightly iffy reputation and image of BMW and their drivers puts me off. I genuinely think their cars are much better built these days.
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  #8  
Old 06-06-2001, 04:25 PM
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I dunno, MB quality may be going down, but has yet to drop to BMW levels

I think it's pretty much accepted fact that the BMW's are tuned more toward the performance aspect of driving, while MB's are tuned more to refined Luxury. On that level it's really a matter of personal preference. The new 7 is a joy to drive, however I have seen so many problems on them, especially with the dash lighting, and all of the electronics aboard, that I cant bring myself to consider one.
I feel MB's are built more solidly, especially in they years that we have been discussing.
Granted I too stated that the motor problem has been adressed by now, but there is also the question of if it was replaced with the same, or a newer version of the block, as pointed out by other people.
As far as badge engineering, The original post reffered to a 1991 740i, I was just pointing out that there was no such beast, unless someone got creative.
I still remember in 90 or 91 the local BMW dealer had a 89 535i with the 750il V12 in it. Seems a customer had encountered a severe rear impact, but the motor was intact, so they translplanted the 12 into the 5, it was sort of a show piece for them. Had it badged as a 550i.
Generally speaking though, having seen about 20 MB's as they age (ie for extended periods of time), and aproximately 10 BMW's, at least until the mid to late 90's the MB's held up better by far. Just my .02 of a dollar.
As far as the driving characteristics, BMW's are a delight to drive, as are MB's imho. Now, the cars are fundamentally different in their scope, so it's all up to what you prefer.
Personally I would love an E36 M3 as a toy for the weekend, but would never drive it daily. Maybe someday when I can afford toy cars....

Best wishes and take care,
George Androulakis
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  #9  
Old 06-06-2001, 05:44 PM
c230man
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Quote:
My second is the 97 540i I currently drive. I have driven just about every MB going and none compare to this cars handling and performance. Some MBs might have the all out acceleration but none do as good at 100 let alone 120. It really is the "Ultimate driving machine".
That's came from the mouth of the experst so i guess i will buy a new 2001 323ci instead of c240.
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  #10  
Old 06-06-2001, 08:27 PM
ShagBenz
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Well........well......

I just wanted to put my .03 cents in, I have a local independent mechanic facility that specializes in MB's and BMW's. I have been going there for 2-3 years, and all I see littered across the infield are BMW's, all over the place.!! The ratio has always been 15 to 1 at least.! And this goes for all years and makes, so I just smile as I pick mine up. I have always had just general maintanence done to mine. Also, the owner (of the facility)drives a Benz. Just a little more , my brother owns 2 BMW's a 740i and a 325i , and he has dropped a small fortune into both of them, I smile at him too
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  #11  
Old 06-06-2001, 11:15 PM
BB BB is offline
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Ive had Both

Hey guys most of the posts seem to be on the ball here, the BM is a better car as a driving enthusiast could wish for. I do miss it very much(323i) it went really well and so much fun on the open road. BUT BUT BUT one thing I definately dont miss is the constant putting your hand in your pocket for bits and pieces.
A friend of mine had a Stag and I used to always give him heaps, always in the garage being worked on. But the bimer was delicate also (NOT as much but still delicate)
Another of my mates has a 323 coupe(M3 lookalike) and is always winging about service costs also.
But since getting into benzes I dont seem to be paying out as much for maintenance or as frequently, they just keep on going as long as look after them.
The benz is not a all out performer like the bimmer but they can go hard if you need to.
If you really like your benz then stay with it or pick up a 400e or 500e now I hear they go really well. As long as you have a benz they always go for a long time, in Europe the are not uncommon to go over 500,000kms without major work.
Just thought I would put in my two cents worth (in Australian currency, so thats one cent US)
BB w123 wagon and 190e
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  #12  
Old 06-07-2001, 01:47 AM
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Some years back I worked at an import repair shop one of my duties was to test drive the repaired autos (nice job) so I drove a lot of different BMW's it seemed to me that most of the models I drove were no more impressive than the better Japanese cars and could not hold a candle to the MB's the one exception was a very well set up 2002 ....
William Rogers....
sure glad this an MB site I don't need hate mail........

[Edited by william rogers on 06-07-2001 at 09:22 PM]
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  #13  
Old 06-07-2001, 03:01 AM
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Posts: 16
Mr. Bill,

you can read up on the BMW M60 4.0 liter V8, Nikasil block problems in the following site.

http://www.530i.org
or
http://www.530i.org/530i-Test.htm

If you happen to have the vin# of the 740il, that you are interested in, have a BMW service dept. check to see if the block has been replaced with an alusil block. Block replacements, out of warranty, will run $4000+.

Good luck.
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  #14  
Old 06-07-2001, 09:49 AM
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It is undoubtedly the case that until very recently a Mercedes was a much better car than a BMW. Certainly a W126 S-Class will enjoy much greater longevity than a 7-er from the same period.

As for the current model 7-er, we have run three, each for in excess of 60k miles with no problems whatsover. We also ran a current model 528i for a similar mileage, again, no problems at all. Our company has had about a dozen 3-er cars, mostly 4 cylinders and they too have performed flawlessly with nothing other than regular servicing being required.

The interior of the new model C simply is not up to the competition. Both the BMW 3-er and the new Audi A4 offer far, far superior materials and construction inside. Check out the very poor seat trim, smooth cheap plastic door pull, and smooth cheap plastic electric window switch surround of the C. You will not find anything even half as cheap feeling in the BMW or Audi, and probably not in an Alfa.

Similarly, the S uses cheaper plastics and trim than the 7-er cars. The X5 and the ML don't even bear compoarison, although granted an X5 is a pile off road.

I personally prefer the interior of the E-Class to that of the 5-er.

It gives me no pleasure to say this as I am a real fan of the Mercedes marque. However, the reality is that Mercedes long since shed its reputation for bullet-proof build and engineering at any cost.
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  #15  
Old 06-07-2001, 10:40 AM
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I had the same thought a few weeks back. Possibly, a 730 for the 300SE I currently drive.

What make me stick to the 300SE over the 730 was simple : the 126 was timeless. It has seen 2 other models climbing over its head, and whereas put another model over the 730 and you would look a little out of place with the newer Bimmers on the road. Somehow, I find Bimmers running out of style and fashion the minute a newer design is introduced. Bias perhaps.

So, in 5 years time I can still look at the 126 with much admiration than I would a Bimmer.

Or so I hope.

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