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Old 02-25-2003, 09:49 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 3,126
The car magazine articles of the late 80's used to compare the 300CE (and also later the 24-valve model), the 635CSi and the Jaguar XJS.

The ranking usually ended up:

1. BMW
2. MB
3. Jag

But, most agreed that the car with the "bank-vault" build quality was the MB. But, the BMW was "more fun" or handled better in the slolam. The Jag was more elegant or pretty.

Stevebfl hits the nail on the head.....a BMW from that era running at autobahn speeds feels wobbly. The MB does not. Even today at 177K miles, my '91 300CE is ROCK SOLID at 80,90,100,110,120....I stopped at 135...but she had some left.

Keep in mind I put good rubber on, keep her well maintained and align the car (as needed) and tires balanced every 5K miles.

Most of my friends drive BMW's. They are fun to drive, but just don't weather as well IMO.
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Old 02-25-2003, 11:46 AM
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The first German sedan that I drove at speed was an '89 735i (e32, I believe). What a pleasant high-speed driver. It was showroom fresh and drove up to 100MPH on the Interstate with silence, security and ease. Since then, I've driven V8 e32's and successors, including the current 745Li. All were consummate high-speed cruisers, very comfortable.

Of course, the examples I drove were all new or near-new, so I can't vouch for their ability to gracefully age. But what a ride...
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Old 02-25-2003, 05:14 PM
dtanesq's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Northern California/Western Washington
Posts: 386
Personal Comparo

I've compared my '93 E34 with my girlfriend's '99 E430. The cars seem to have slightly different missions. The E430 is quick and handles reasonably well. The E34 is a slug off the line (even with the performance chip), but at freeway speeds, it outperforms the E430 by a country mile in terms of handling, braking distance - overall driving experience. Complaints? E430 - seems vague at highway speeds, brake feel is non-linear, strange arrangement of the shift box - "D" and "4" are in the same gate and inadvertantly bumping the shift lever can easily put it in the wrong place. Build quality not up to solidity of my '88 W124. E34 - a 5 Series with a 3 series motor? Sheesh. Little annoying problems a constant companion with the car - door lock actuator failed, leaving me locked, literally, into the driver's seat, head gasket replaced at 120K, struts replaced a little earlier, BBS basketweaves are a complete pain in the arse to clean.

I drive either car happily, but prefer my BMW. I think she prefers it too, as a driving experience.

2003 Dodge Durango SLT
2002 BMW E39 530i Sport
1988 Mercedes 300TE
2003 Chevrolet Suburban
1999 E430
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Old 02-26-2003, 08:58 PM
Meza's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: SC
Posts: 148
BMW feels wobbly!!!

I don't understand the issue with wobbly bmws. The suspension of BMWs is a hell of a lot more sofisticated, balanced, and "harmonic "than MB and this is a fact and not my opinion. The issue with wobbly BMWs probably came from the fact that thrust arm bushings on 5 and some older 7 series fail due to the heavy load they take. Their fix is nothing but a replacement with high quality harder bushings available from many supplier like Dinan. BMW doesn't make them hard so as not to make the ride harsh. Yes, I did have wobble issues with BMWs due to these bushings and was gone when replaced.
What's the deal with slugish BMW. Any of the 325i (I am talking 80 models) will out perform my 2.6L in take off, acceleration, and stability at high way speed. The faster BMW goes the better it drives.
Another thing to look at is that MB and BMWs get their products from the same damn suppliers whether its fuel or suspension, ..etc. The "reliability" of these products is the same.
The issue with interior and comfort. I sat in different MB models and their seats are one of the worst when it comes to comfort and I have heard that from many many people. I don't think they are higher in "quality" than the ones in BMWs, however, I believe BMW seats are more comfortable.
My opionin comes from experience after owning 12 BMWs and nothing but BMWs until I got my 190e 2.6L. MB is not very much different than a BMW when it comes to maintenance. Both cars got issues, however, different from one another. The parts cost about the same. What's higher in one is cheaper in the other and vice versa. I can list a lot of things that is maintenence free in both cars and failed. Buy either one with a bad maintenance history and you are srewed. I am not launching an attack on MB, I just don't think they are 100% solid as a lot of people think and the same applies to BMW. It is a matter of taste.
1993 190E 2.6
Advanced Diesel Systems Test and Research Engineer
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Old 02-26-2003, 09:25 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 788
Well put. When it comes to the aforementioned taste, technology/reliability aside, I personally believe that MBs hold their style a lot better. They age more gracefully. Whereas an old BMW looks its age, MBs look newer than what they are. Ordinary people think my car is a late 90s model. Although I have hardly ever driven a BMW (only an E46 3 for a short time) I have hardly any doubt that they are a hoot to drive and perhaps more 'fun' than an MB, old or new. I would consider owning a BMW one day, but not in place of my MB!
'86 420SE Euro
904 Midnight Blue, Gray Velour
Dad bought it new, now I own it.

"A Mercedes-Benz is like a fine wine, it only gets better with age."
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