Friday, June 16, 2017

Coffee Brake: The Yellow Sun

Welcome to Coffee Brake, where we take a break from the mundane and explore the outer limits of the mind.  I was being cheeky in an earlier post today when I asked the question "is the sun yellow"...but this is indeed an actual real question.  When measured by optical wizardry equipment the sun measures as pretty dang close to white as you can get, but people draw the sun as yellow...so here we've got something that people see everyday but they describe in a totally unrealistic way...which brings me to today's topic -- are BMW's good cars?



Of course BMWs are great cars, you worthless nincompoop  -- how else do you explain the legions of fans and millions of buyers over the years.  The pop rock trio "Hanson" has sold over 16 million albums worldwide since 1992, but you won't convince me to buy their Christmas album...so the old Bavarian saying de gustibus non est disputandum stands...BUT I'm not asking for popular opinion, I am asking for hard, cold facts...just the facts ma'am that Bill Gannon and Joe Friday could hang a hat (or perp) with.  



So, I ask you dear reader....tell me -- is the sun yellow? And are BMWs good cars?

17 comments:

  1. They are decent cars if you take them for what they are - good driving dynamics, decent styling, and a cult following. Repair prices and feasibility of repair for some parts are not great, but you take hits for a car that drives well and is fun to own.

    Would I ever buy a BMW? No. I'm not a huge fan, but I can appreciate them. (Especially anything made before '95).

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    1. As a former E36 owner, I'd agree with your take on them. Plus they are pretty good at building very smooth running inline sixes. They seem to have a Vulcan-like quality about their design, though - a case of trying to be logical to the point where the logic is no longer logical. The weird screw-driven factory jack was a good case in point. It was an intricately designed, smooth working, lightweight, easy to use piece... and it folded up and left the car stuck the first time I tried using it on uneven ground. I replaced it with a conventional scissor jack.

      The convertible top was also a finicky and complex beast. It was an electrically driven power top with three or four separate motors that always got stuck about halfway and needed manual assistance. A Miata's manual top is more convenient.

      In the end, I only got rid of it because I couldn't fit two kid's car seats in the back seat and didn't have the space or budget to make it purely a toy. I wouldn't mind owning a BMW again - just not a convertible this time around.

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  2. The BMW 2002 is an undeniably great car. Very simple to work with, great visibility,great handling,still just under powered enough to be one of those cars that are incredibly fun to drive hard. Plenty of space for two people, with room enough in the back for occasional adult passengers and a great trunk for the size of the car.
    Newer BMW's don't grab me in the same romantic way, but have undeniably strong powers. For years, I've been watching the newer ones turn normal people into total azzhats on highways and in parking lots across the country. Given that stereotype did not seem to reveal itself until the early 90's, I'm good with most older BMWs.

    I've never driven a 3.0 CS but suspect its very enjoyable; like a better looking and more athletically capable 2002 should be.

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  3. They are nice drivers, but they are parts-hounds. Which in my mind, means some areas are under-engineered (on purpose??). Which is a contradiction, really, given the high degree of technology incorporated into the drivetrains. I compare with older Alfa's I own, and I'd take the Alfa any day. It just has more love for the road!

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  4. I would say yes, good cars overall. DD a 1999 540it touring from 2010 to 2016. Already older, some regular mtce, (tires,brakes) but needed minimal extra parts. Never left me stranded. Drove great for a wagon wiTh a v8 shoehorned under the hood. I'm sure I freaked out alot of people zooming thru with a wagon. Having also driven my dad's 535ix , the newer ones aren't as connected, like anything newer, got big and bloated, bUT a still capable driving machine. The twin charged 3.0 is a silky motor. Bmw revise the plastic cooling system and keep the direct injection ports clean, they would have a winning motor. I think of bmw a the choice that you need a fairly practical daily that can still be DRIVEN when the mood arises with some panache and bragging. Tho a VW GTI is a pretty practical DD as well. So many choices, so little garage space...

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  5. BMW has made some great cars but aren't uniformly great. As mentioned above the 2002 is a classic. I enjoyed my 635CSi - just looking at that handsome car made me smile and it was a wonderful cruiser that drew admiring looks wherever we went. I'm enjoying the heck out of my M Roadster. That said, their current lineup doesn't do anything for me. So let's say that they are capable of building good and even great cars but not uniformly good or great.
    Take my opinion for what it is worth, I own and enjoy the Hanson Brothers Christmas album!

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  6. With very rare exceptions, BMWs stopped being "good cars" when they started focusing on technology instead of driving. The e46 M3 was one of their last "good" Cars. The current M2 and M235i are their best cars now.
    I have owned my '73 2002tii for a long time and it is a great car and I will never sell it. It is fun, functional, stylish, hugely capable, reliable (just drove it 1,650 miles in 3 days) and a superb backroad and highway driver with great visibility and frugality.

    I am not into Wifi in my cars, massaging seats, connectivity or any of that bullshit. People are such bad inattentive drivers these days, and BMW is leading the way down the worm hole.

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  7. With very rare exceptions, BMWs stopped being "good cars" when they started focusing on technology instead of driving. The e46 M3 was one of their last "good" Cars. The current M2 and M235i are their best cars now.
    I have owned my '73 2002tii for a long time and it is a great car and I will never sell it. It is fun, functional, stylish, hugely capable, reliable (just drove it 1,650 miles in 3 days) and a superb backroad and highway driver with great visibility and frugality.

    I am not into Wifi in my cars, massaging seats, connectivity or any of that bullshit. People are such bad inattentive drivers these days, and BMW is leading the way down the worm hole.

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    1. I am so jealous of Brian.....if his 02 has a sun roof I might commit hari kari! Had a cherry '72 02 sunroof. a/c that was originally a slushbox. Dropped a Gettrag 5 speed into it and had a ball for years. When I sold it in the , can it be, the mid eighties just cause I had an itch for a '63 Imperial, I got 6K. Its like money in the bank and more so today. Plus they are such fun to drive. Ive been driving my '95 E36 convertible 4 cyl that I bought new( under pressure I might add, trading in..... .wait for it...a low mileage perfect 1987 E30 325IS!) since new. Its up to 311,000 miles. Having friends that own a beemer boneyard is invaluable. The interiors are complete crap. But as long as you keep on top of the inevitable cooling system failures, timing belts etc, suspension et al, it just keeps on keeping on. Plus when some smug bastid driving an overengineered 60 K late model Beemer convert pulls up next to me, and practically goes crosseyed sniffing down his nostrils at my utilitarian E36, I huff imperiously at his obvious stupidity.

      On my radar is an early E46 5 speed wagon.........looking for one so if any DT'rs have one for sale with relatively low mileage, let me know!

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  8. I love some old BMW vintages (E34, E39, E32, E23, E24, E46, for instance). the current lineup is a mixed bag, but none of them gets me really excited. maybe because I'm a Mercedes/Jaguar guy at heart, biased towards old-money cars.

    that said, I'd love to have an M635i from the mid-Eighties.

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  9. I've had 4 of them, all in the 3 series. The ZM coupe was the easiest car to drive fast,but had problems like the others. You would always smell coolant but no leak could be found. All of mine had typical coolant problems. What kind of car company will make many models for many years have cooling system problems? Electric window sliders the same, along with air Bag warning lights and always some electrical problem. Although I would buy off lease cars with extended certified warranties to save thousands in repairs, I don't like down time hassles. Daily dependability is more important to me than the small differences between upscale cars.

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  10. I had an E46 M3 vert and loved it. First German car I owned and the first car I could not out-drive. I don't understand how BMW never addressed some of the long standing issues, for instance the cooling system, unless it was their plan to keep the service department busy. If you are a DIY the maintenance is not bad and there is lots of support out there. But if you take it to a dealer you will get screwed. And sometimes even the dealers get things wrong so a knowledgeable independent is a blessing. I would buy another, but probably not one of the newer offerings. Also, the BMW DIS is a pain in the ass. , particularly if you are trying to code something.

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  11. Fleetwood T. BroughamJune 18, 2017 at 7:12 PM

    Had multiples......2002, e30, e28, e24, e39 528i touring 5-speed, e38, X5 4.6is, e46 m3 you name it. Nothing drives and handles like an e39/e46 or older, and nothing bores me more than anything newer. I truly have zero interest in anything they make currently....maybe, MAYBE I'll pick up a e90 M3 V8 sedan sooner or later, but not even a blip on the radar otherwise, and I'm a 20+ year BMWCCA member.

    As others have said, repairs are easy, parts are ample, and the community is large an comprehensive in their ability to help shade tree mechanics keep them running.

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  12. When I owned special BMWs in the past I didn't mind doing the maintenance and repairs to keep them in nice shape.
    With my current plain and lame BMWs I just find all the repairs to be really annoying and frustrating.

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  13. My only experience w/ BMW, is the '74 2002 I've owned for the last 7 years. Anyone driving anything newer than an E30 is a retardo-introverted-selfish-bully of a driver. And if you drive a BMW w/ an automatic, you don't even get a place at the table. (kiddy table for you)...

    All kidding aside, from what I hear, all BMWs made in the last 10-15 years use plastic parts in their cooling systems. NOT COOL! (literally). The Japanese luxury car makers don't do this. SOrry, but if BMW can't spend the $$ to make a reliable cooling system that should last 15 years w/o completely replacing the entire system for peace of mind, then I simply won't drive one. This info comes from the "Hack Mechanic", Rob Seigel (SP?) who happens to live in my town... The most honest, friendly BMW guy I know... (Just saw him yesterday at the Larz Anderson German Car day lawn event)....


    - Average Bear

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    1. So can I get an E38, or does it have to be an E24? I'm waffling. Will have back seat dwellers around for a number of years yet. Also, CFO prefers later model safety advances. Otherwise, I mostly subscribe to your Weltanschauung.

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  14. I've loved BMWs for many years, from the '73 2002 Tii that my college roommate had to the '86 528e and '87 635CSi that I owned, drove hard, and loved for many years. Would still like to find an affordable (Key word, that) E28 535is or M5, but....My mistake was buying a '95 BMW 740Li, I was traveling a lot for business, seemed to make sense. Not. Leaks, false alarms from alarm system, only way to get it going was to really put the shoe to it, drank gas like a wino drinks MD20/20. Depreciated horribly, I'm sure due to the reputation it had gotten (and my mechanic, Terry Sayther here in Austin, told me I was "lucky" with mine!). Will never get a BMW again that doesn't have the straight 6, what a wonderfully balanced engine. And don't get me started on the Bangle-era eyesores, not to mention excess weight and hopelessly complicated electronics. Been perfectly happy with my E320s (1 sedan, 2 wagons) since.

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