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  #16  
Old 09-18-2003, 04:47 PM
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BMW has had it's share of problems. The E34 5-series can be terrible cars to own. They have lots of electrical glitches, problems with suspension bits, failing automatics, defective V-8 engines, among other things. BMW changed the 5-series from a "driver's" basic sedan into a luxury car loaded with complex electrical accessories.

The E36 was a very reliable car, but had numerous oil leak problems, some of which BMW played the "head in the sand" game concerning. Early E36 cars had all kinds of problems, but later versions are well sorted out. The E46 has auto-box problems (again with a five speed, and BMW is bringing 6 and 7 speeds out?) and all sorts of electrical glitches.

If you're shopping older cars, say a 1994/95 5-series vs. a 1994/95 E-Class, the Mercedes is far ahead of the BMW for low operating costs, overall reliability, and build quality. They are both the "last of the line" for their particular models, and the Mercedes is much better. The main problem is the resale value. The Mercedes is priced much higher than the BMW, thanks to the knowledge in the market.

The E39 is a pretty good car, but it's shockingly expensive to maintain. My neighbour has a 540i and it costs a fortune to keep up. They traded a W140 S320 in for it, and the Mercedes' overall costs were a fraction of the BMW's. However, they're wealthy and don't really care. Most of us are not so fortunate.

I would buy a 1998 E36 BMW 328i. Excellent car.
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  #17  
Old 09-18-2003, 05:22 PM
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blackmercedes,

For those of us not familiar with BMW internal model numbers, can you please tell us the year of the 5-Series models you mentioned in your last message? Thanks.
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  #18  
Old 09-18-2003, 09:12 PM
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Maybe this helps:

E36 - 3 series from '92-98
E46 - 3 series from '99+ (replacement for E36)

I believe the E39 is the 5 series from about '96-98 or so (I could be way off here on the years..) and the E34 was the 5 series before it.

Some BMW trivia -- anyone know why early '90 7-series are so cheap? They're priced comparably to 3 series of the same year and are usually a bit cheaper than a 5 series of the same year.

I had a friend with one and he said the set of spark plug wires for the 7 came as two parts -- one for each "side" of the engine and each one had 4 plug ends. These were $600US PER SIDE if (when) they needed to be replaced.

And people asked why I bought a 300SDL rather than a BMW 7-series. They look at me funny when I say I haven't spent a penny on plugs or wires in over 2 years.. meanwhile their BMW's have cost hundreds or thousands of dollars over the same period...

Neal
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'83 300SD 335,000km (207k) mi SOLD
'87 560SL 163,000km (101k mi) SOLD
'86 300SDL 356,000km (220k mi) SOLD
'92 500SEL 250,000km (155k mi) SOLD
'90 300SL 140,000km (87k mi) SOLD
'01 S430 260,000km (161k mi) SOLD
'03 SL500 167,000km (104k mi)
'07 GL320 CDI 4MATIC 289,000km (162k mi)
'07 S550 4MATIC 170,000km (105k mi)
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  #19  
Old 09-18-2003, 11:04 PM
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my business partner has a 2001 540i sport (one step below the M5) it is the baddest car i have ever driven. his dad has the 540i automatic and puts 25k miles per year on it trouble free. the 540i sport has a manual 6 speed tranny. he drove from charlotte to boulder in 19 hrs. don't know a thing about any other BMW but if i had 42 grand i would make him an offer.
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  #20  
Old 09-19-2003, 02:34 AM
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My friend has a 2001 330ci, and his mom has 2003 M3. They have not had a single problem with any of the cars. One big reason that I have considered buying a BMW as my next car is becasue of of the manuel transmission options.
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  #21  
Old 09-19-2003, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ranger
I have considered buying a BMW as my next car is becasue of of the manuel transmission options.
this is the only way to have these cars. the triptronic or whatever you call it is no good. if you get the 330i get the 2dr. more room for the driver.

as you can see i was really looking into one but since i got my 126 i have no need for a new car for quite some time. so i figure i saved myself 25 grand.
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  #22  
Old 09-19-2003, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by bhatt
Some BMW trivia -- anyone know why early '90 7-series are so cheap?
'Cause they are junk, and people know it.
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  #23  
Old 09-19-2003, 11:00 AM
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the new sevens are not much better.
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  #24  
Old 09-19-2003, 01:29 PM
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The old 7's are cheap. I bought one for $500. Drove it for 6 months until it broke and sold it to a junk yard for $800.
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  #25  
Old 09-19-2003, 02:02 PM
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Both M.B. and B.M.W. have gone so much overboard in the electronic gadget and gizmos department (maybe to try to keep their up-market appeal) that to me both marques are now as unrealiable as your next door Lada.

A friend of mine bought one of the early new 7-series, and he regrets it every day and night.

As they have done most early W220 owners.
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  #26  
Old 09-19-2003, 02:04 PM
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If you're going to buy a long lived reasonably economical car, no one thinks about the 7-series BMW. Not of any vintage. All 1988- cars suffer all kinds of maladies. Only the 3.5L six equipped 735i's have decent drivelines, but most are auto-box equipped. ZF's BMW boxes are lousy. Porsche got smart and bought MB's auto-box for the 928.

The electrical nightmares that the 1988-1995 E34 5-series suffer are worse in the 7. The V-12 variants can be had for a song thanks to their complexity and terrible reliability.

Any of the older M cars can be a financial disaster too. The engines are essentially race engines, and are overly complex and parts are all M-specific and EXPENSIVE. Enough to make Porsche drivers gasp. MB "special" stuff is usually "generic" in it's way. Look at the W124 E500. Most of the car is run-of-the-mill W124, and the performance bits are from the MB parts bin, and don't cost the GDP of a decent sized nation. Go price out some M engine bits, I guarantee you'll faint.

The 1984-1991 BMW 3-series (E30) cars are well made, and can be great cars, but they're all very old now. Most are third, forth, of more owner cars, and are past their useful life. The early E36 (1992-1998/99) 3-series are good if they've been sorted out, but the best used BMW buy is a 1998 328i sedan or 1999 328is coupe.

We had a 1997 (E39) BMW 528i, and sold it to my neighbour. She loves it, and it's deadly reliable compared to the crappy Chrysler products they've had in the past, but not any better than the 1998 E300 that we sold out of disappointment. It depends on your expectation. One thing I have noticed is that the BMW interior materials are not as robust as in the past, and compared to my C-Class, the E39 interior is already looking a little peaked, despite much lower mileage on the BMW.

BMW has driven down the mass market road. They've got models out to wazoo, and are expanding their SUV product line. There is talk of 1-series in North America. And so on. They are also following Lexus' lead in cramming gadgets into cars, but can't get them to operate reliably. The Germans don't have a good track record of being all things to all consumers, and all the german makers are failing miserably. VW's are regarded among those in the know as the worst junk except for a few NA cars like Neon (an anagram of None) and so on. Audi has built a good rep, but that might fall once their ailing quality numbers sink in. And service? Audi's dealer network sucks as bad as VW's. Porsche has been on a roll, but Boxster sales are off big time, and there are plenty of unhappy customers with broken engines, and tons of little problems. Remember, mass market consumers moved up from Camrys. They're not willing to put up with crap.

Right now, I would be very hesitant to take a chance on the large outlay for a new Mercedes product. Check my sig, and you'll see that is a problem for Mercedes. The die-hards are walking away, and they're left with the "fickle" mass market that'll turn the ML in at the end of the lease and not bat an eye when picking up their new RX330.
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  #27  
Old 09-19-2003, 03:31 PM
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The 1977-late 80's 5,6,7 series were pretty good IMHO. Rather anemic by today's standards, and now would be considered low-tech as well.

The old 5 had a decent power-to-weight ratio. The 'big 6' motors were very durable back to their start in the '60s. Some cracked head issues on early models, but they fixed that. Easily good for 1/4 million miles or more before major service. Took several apart (for heads), and the bottom end was always mint. Really old now, of course...

2002s were sweet.

Still have a 3.0cs in deep storage. Hope to restore it someday...

Too bad the 90's models have so many problems. The drivetrain problems are particularly troubling. I was considering a 90s 8 cylinder for my next 'new' old car. Maybe I will never 'go back'...
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  #28  
Old 09-19-2003, 03:51 PM
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The BMW e34 5 series 535i (1989-1993) with a manual tranny and "big six" engine has a well-earned reputation as a very durable and fun to drive car. I own a 1992 535i, and quite frankly it's much more responsive/better handling than my 1991 W124 300e 4matic. It's also been much less costly to own than the MB, with its transfer case, a/c and head gasket woes.

My take is it's hard to generalize, so don't put too much credibility into anyone who attempts to do so.

FWIW

Jay
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