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Old 04-18-2003, 09:14 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Puerto Rico
Posts: 103
BMW 740i 96 vs MB S500 94

I want to know what car do you consider is a better car?
more reliable?
less cost to own?
better resale price?
what car is more trouble free??
Thanks in advance

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Old 04-18-2003, 09:47 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 50
I would go with s500. The 1996 740 has a major problem with the engine. BMW even has had a recall on the engine ( Not sure if it is still in effect) where they will replace the whole thing if the car has less than 100K.

furthermore, I always though that Mercedes has better resale value specially for the top of the line sadans.

Hopes that help.
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Old 04-18-2003, 10:01 AM
Posts: n/a
Both nice cars, BMW is perhaps a bit more sporty, benz more luxurious. The engine issue is a big one with the BMW. BMW used Nikasil blocks starting in 1994 with the 3.0 and 4.0 V8, and they had a big wear issue supposedly related to sulfur in the US fuel. Some blocks were replaced early on with other Nikasil engines, so you can't just go with the seller saying the engine was replaced. I think the engine I.D. casting on the RHS of the block (viewed from below) has to start with M62... to be the acceptable Alusil block. Anything starting with M60... is suspect. check these BMW sites for more info and Once at roadfly you will have to navigate to BMW and then the series car you are interested in. I have an E34, and if you do a search on that board you will find lots of postings on this, including a link to a site in Australia that has exactly the block casting numbers to know you're OK. To agree with the earlier post, the BMWs with these 3.0 and 4.0 liter V8s have suffered in resale because of this issue, so be sure you only buy Alusil and don't pay a premium.
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Old 04-18-2003, 10:15 AM
Posts: n/a
Merc hands down. My mother owned a '98 S500 and before buying it I helped her shop around and we drove a handful of 740i's, one being that ltd edition with the light cream interior and funky blue metallic paint work.

The Merc seemed heavier, but was deceptively fast -- the word that comes to mind is "authoritative". I hate to say this, but the 740 seemed boring to drive --- a real yawn-fest. Not the case with the 5's or 3's, but it just didn't excite me too much. All of this is purely subjective of course.

I think there's a few members on this board who own or have owned both cars, so will be interesting to see if they chime in!

If it was an older W140, I'd say the cost to own would be more than the BMW. The later years are more reliable.
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Old 04-18-2003, 10:16 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Convent Station, NJ
Posts: 755
The issue with the Nikasil block was present in the 740 up until mid 1995. There were NO 1996 cars affected by this shortcoming.

Regarding the two cars: I'd have to say I'd go with the 740. It's probably the best driving 4-door sedan I've ever owned. If I were to get another it would be a '98 or newer example as the larger 4.4 engine along with many other updates were implemented.

Additionally, IMO this generation 740's styling is second to none.

'85 380 SL (sold)
'85 Carrera Flatnose
'71 280 SL Signal Red/Cognac

Last edited by RickM; 04-18-2003 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 04-18-2003, 11:48 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Great White North!!!!
Posts: 400

what a terrible dilema! actually i had this same problem a few years ago.i was trying to decide between a 2yr old 740 or a 3 1/2 yr old s500.i guess you have to ask yourself what you want out of the car.performance,luxury,style,grace,roominess and resale.they both have these qualities to different degrees and usually some come at expense of the primary issue was space for the wife and three growing boys(and boy are they growing!)when i realized that hump in the back of the 740 was going to be a problem the benz choice was obvious.also i think the s500 is more prestigious compared to the 740-but that's my opinion.
'95 s500 (bought for wife but can't bear to share!!!) 125kms
'92 legend 180kms
'88 tbirdturbo(fantastic car-only regular maint.)120kms
'87 mustang gt(gone)
'86 tbirdturbo(gone)
'85 mustang gt(gone-but not forgotten)
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Old 04-18-2003, 11:56 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 154
Go with the S500..I have owned both

and I will NEVER EVER EVER own another BMW. I owned a 70K mile 1996 740il and it was a NIGHTMARE. everything that could go wrong went wrong. The car had been serviced regularly as required by BMW but the oddest things would always go wrong. A/C display, suspension conponents, radiator broke, coil packs died, on and on and on.... Anyhow, I finally got the car to where I had replaced practically everything that could break and thought nothing else could possibly go wrong. Guess what, the engine developed a loud knock. A blown engine was right around the corner so I dumped it fast!! A year or so later I bought the same model year S500 and have had ZERO problems. It is such a joy to drive and I would not hesitate to take it cross country. Go with the Benz and save yourself alot of headaches and agony to your pocket book!!
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Old 04-19-2003, 01:45 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 29
Go with Benz

I owned a 89 Benz 300E, had it up to 260K miles, no problem whatsoever, except wear and tear. At the end, the head gaskets leaked & engine loose compression, and dealer wanted $2k to fix it. So I offload it to my buddy. He spent less than $200 to buy the parted, and fixed it himself. The car has more than 300K miles now, and still run smooth & powerful like a charm.

After the Benz, I bought a 98 BMW 528 and a Lexus GS300. Both had 50K mile when purchased.
The Bimmer had so many problem: anything that could go wrong did: water pump, oxygen sensor, sunroof, ECU, radio, climate control LCD monitor (very comon problem for Bimmer, and very expensive to replace), window switches, cup holder (replace 6 times !), cat converter (cost me a small fortune). I think except for the transmission, everything else in the car were fixed one time or another. The car is fun to drive (when it runs, which is ...rare :-). After two years of nightmare, and when the car failed smoke check, I traded in the car for a 99 SL500 instead of spending another $3K to fix it as dealer suggested (it had 90K miles when traded in).
The Lexus never had a single problem. Beside oil, brake, tire, timming belt, all it needed were maintenaince every 60K mile mile. It now has 220K mile, and still look like new, and run very powerful & smooth (even my mechanic is surprised by its condition).

I also bought a 99 Benz 320E lately. 4 months of ownership so far, and no problem seen yet.
I rack in lot of mileage, and need reliable cars. My biggest mistake so far was buying a bimmer.

My friends, who own a 540 and a new 745i spend more time driving loaner cars than their cars, that's pretty much tell you about Bimmer reliability.

To be honest, even the SL is not as excited to drive as the Bimmer 5 series, however, I believe most people prefer cars that rarely run wrong (or never, like a Lexus), instead of rarely run :-)

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