My wife drives a 1998 328i that we bought new for her- it currently has 64,300 miles on it. She drives it more or less daily (just not very far) so we couldn ’t just get rid of it; it would have to be replaced. I call this car ”The Immaculata” as it lives in covered parking and is often mistaken by her un-car-savvy girlfriends as almost new.
Unfortunately that isn’t the case. It got a new hood and fender after ”an incident”, and it’s ticked off the list of usual E36 demands. New shocks, radiator, etc. However it’s gotten everything it wanted including regular oil changes and radiator and brake flushes and a transmission flush as well.
Now it’s advanced down the list to having the HVAC mix door slam open when the heat comes on. My Independent macanic say $1,500 to fix that but it annoys the wife.
Thought about replacing the car, but I’m kind of stuck. She’s used to her heated seats and the easy power of the BMW. The suggestion of a new Mini was sneered at. However obviously this car, even in great condition as it is won’t be worth enough to make the trade for a new 3 – and she won’t eventry driving my 2011 anyhow.
So… should I bite the bullet and fix the noise she’s complaining about, bite the shotgun shell and dump it while it’s as valuable as it will ever get and buy a new car she doesn’t want, or tell her she’s crazy and that I don’t hear the noise?
I sure as hell wouldn’t trade “up” from a well-preserved E36 to a MINI: that’s like telling me to sell my well-preserved Mark VIII for an MKS. Keyword: well-preserved!
That’s the problem: when you have one of the best examples of a make/model, loved by car nuts and “un-car-savvy” girlfriends alike, there’s no trade that is a trade up. Provided you don’t win the lottery, of course. And I think the E36 is the best looking and maybe the best performing (these days used as a pure track car) 3-series ever made. The E30 is frumpy and somewhat overrated (there, I said it), and every 3-er after has been too big, more Mercedes like and less fun to drive.
You could say I have a thing for the E36. Especially when it sounds like you have some misbehaving foam at the heart of the matter. And after doing a similar thing on my Mercury Cougar, I can say that replacing all parts in the HVAC box (heater core, evaporator, blower motor, any known electric malcontents, etc) makes the money very well spent. The best A/C in the Mehta garage might be the fully reconditioned unit in the Cougar. The air comes out delightfully cold and brutally dense, even at the lowest fan speed. Granted my car has 200,000 miles, the system was on its last legs and I did all the work myself, but this might be a small price to pay for you too.
My point: it’s funny how happy one gets when a large automotive expenditure yields added perks not expected to come with. Plus, you keep your prized vehicle on the road, in tip top shape.
But I could be wrong. So go test drive a lot of cars before committing to the expense. Who knows, maybe a Hyundai Genesis coupe pushes the right buttons, at the right price. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
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