By on September 2, 2013

TTAC commentator zamoti writes:

Sajeev,

I have successfully nursed along my aging Maxima without replacing the transmission, but now sans muffler, balding tires and growing rust, I feel it may finally be time to part ways.  Though it is fun to offer my fellow motorists a dose of the sound and the fury of the delightful 3.0 VQ, I have decided that it is time to grow up and select a more dignified form of transportation.  Plus my wife calls me a hillbilly.

In the quest for dignified wheels, I am a bit hamstrung by the fact that I’ve just purchased a (second) house and probably not looking very good on paper.  As such, my task is to seek a gentleman’s car on a cash basis maybe even at a BHPH lot.  I have about $9k to spend and the Maxima to sell.  Long ago when Murilee was seeking out a 1st gen Q45, I though that a hyper-depreciated luxury barge would be a great idea if I ever needed something of the sort.  Well, that time is now; I occasionally need room for five, three of those are car seats. I have been nosing around and narrowed the choices to a 2001 BMW 740il and maybe a 2003 Infiniti Q45.  I don’t think it’s going to be much of a choice since there aren’t many Q45s available, so I’m leaning toward the ample supply of e38s.

I’m willing to spin my own wrenches on whatever I get, but this does need to be my sole DD so it can’t be a flatbed queen.  Is this a horrible idea to seek out an $8000 used luxury flagship?  A sampling of BMW forums state that the later variants of e38 were fairly reliable, but that’s a fairly narrow band of people to expect an unbiased opinion from.  I’m aware that any premium brand is going to require a bit of money socked away for maintenance and willing to live with that as the downside.  I’ve looked at the common issues and feel that I can handle most of them on my own.

I am not against other choices, but I do like the idea of that 7-series.  It has room for all, looks good, and above all else, it is a gentleman’s car.

Your thoughts?

Sajeev answers:

*headdesk*

Murilee drives a Honda Civic on a daily basis, and he bought a Lexus LS for a luxurious play toy!  You, however, completely lost your mind!

Wise up and get something better than an $8000 flagship.

BMW E38s–while unbelievably pleasant to drive with styling that gets better with age–are fragile and expensive “flatbed queens” as you so eloquently put it. Take it from someone who worked on his father’s 750iL, which had more problems from the E38 underpinnings than the unique bits associated with the V-12 engine.

But I still miss that eggplant-hued, unquestioned “King of the Road” from 1996…yet I still want to burn it to the ground!

zamoti replies:

So the lesson is that you cannot buy dignity for $8000.  Q45?

Sajeev answers:

A little (lot?) better, ditto a Lexus LS a la Murilee. But not good enough, since you have a wife, kids and no spare vehicle!  Find dignity and self-worth elsewhere…force your kids into sports even if they hate it, and absolutely do not buy an $8000 flagship!

Drive a normal, boring or even shitty car and get motivated to become the next self-made bazillionaire who ignores the folly of wealth and drives a Ford truck. Or some hyper-motivated, soul sucking Gordon Gekko type.

Either way, whatever works for you.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.
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139 Comments on “Piston Slap: Self Worth vs. The $8000 Flagship...”


  • avatar
    JoelW

    Good, good, GOOD advice Sajeev!

    Reminds me slightly of a call my wife took at Cadillac Consumer Relations a number of years ago. The caller had purchased an old ratted-out, high-mileage Caddy (I don’t know which model) and had blown their entire budget on it. Of course it needed repairs nearly right away and the person was despondent.

    I work at a dealership myself… we recently had a 2002 Ford Taurus traded in with approximately 15,000 original miles. The car was utterly clean (it had been garage kept) except for some scuffs on the front bumper that could easily be dealt with. It sold for under $7,000 (location = greater Chicago area). If something like this could be found, it would be a perfect choice for Zamoti. Not much luxury but years of reliable service left in this car… AND it seats five.

    For what its worth…

  • avatar
    snakebit

    When I worked for a luxury Japanese dealer, my boss constantly chose this model BMW for his 160 mile round trip daily commute. And when he felt the miles were too high and would affect resale,he connected with a wholesaler to find him another one, and not once did we ever need to repair anything on them, and he went through at least four cars like this. I think the trick is buying the best one you can afford and putting aside money to repair unexpected problems. An LS400 or its ilk won’t serve you any better.

  • avatar
    Syke

    $8000 for your only transporation?

    Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge. DO NOT deviate from these brand marques. You don’t have the kind of money to show off how cool you are. You have the kind of money to buy normal, forgettable, transportation.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Please take Sajeev’s advice. As primary family transportation, used luxury cars don’t make much sense. They tend to break to often and the repairs will be very expensive. For $8K, there are plenty good used mid or full size family sedans to choose from. They may be less glamorous but they will also not break your wallet or leave you stranded on the side of the road every other week.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Good advice.

    The young couple next door bought a 05’ish BMW 5-series (whichever one has a V8) with slightly less then 100k miles on it, for a good deal. The Guy was out there working on it all weekend. I came over and loaned him some tools; he was working out of one of those $25 Auto-zone tool sets. Car didn’t run quite right, and once in a blew moon it shifted into 2nd gear “like a explosion”. It also leaked some oil. He replaced all the plugs, wires, did some of this and that and was working on it for the next few weeks.

    One day the BMW was gone and a new Golf GTI sitting in it’s place.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That would be the 545i. There are ways to buy eight and nine-year-old BMWs, but it requires far more due-diligence than most people are willing to perform, and prices are still comparatively high because these cars cater to the “appearance” crowd, and are good finance-fodder…

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Do not ever, ever, EVER own any German car out of warranty.

    The repair bills are to weep. If you wrench it yourself, the specialty tools required to do basic maintenance will make you say WTF? They’re expensive and you can’t rent them from Autozone.

    If you insist on luxury, blow your $8K on a Lexus, Acura, or Infiniti. They may be a bit more expensive when they need to be repaired, it just won’t happen as often.

    Otherwise, buy something pedestrian and generally considered reliable and/or cheap/easy to fix.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I have a neighbor who has a funny habit of changing cars every so often. He bought a 2003 BMW 325i. Within about…two weeks, the 325i was gone, replaced by his third Impreza WRX. And this is a guy who spends all his time wrenching on cars.

      If a guy who spends all his time wrenching wants nothing to do with a used BMW, I don’t either.

      • 0 avatar
        Mathias

        I disagree… an older German car can be just fine.. if you know what you’re dealing with.

        So it can’t be your only car, and if you have to wait a week for a Grunzenquieker to be shipped from Untertuerkheim, that has to be OK, too. These cars are built to last, they’ll just need a lot of attention along the way.

        If you have to run to the dealer for every little thing, and pay dealer prices for parts, it’ll be ruinous. Best is to have some wrenching skills and a good mechanic who specializes in the brand.

        Friends of mine own 5-series sedans, (’97, ’02) and they’re both quite happy with the longevity, parts availability, and ease of repairs.

        • 0 avatar
          cronus

          “These cars are built to last, they’ll just need a lot of attention along the way.”

          You don’t see the contradiction in that sentence? I think you and I have very different definitions of “built to last.”

          • 0 avatar
            Mathias

            Not really, no. The engines will typically be fine, and the bodies will not rust until they’re very old. Benz W210 are an exception.
            A 10-year-old Mazda3, by contrast, will be “reliable” but will look like crud, at least in the rust belt.

        • 0 avatar
          tooloud10

          Agreed. I have a higher-mileage BMW and hear this all the time. I’m perfectly comfortable understanding that I don’t own the most reliable car in the world. If it breaks, I figure out how to fix it. When it works fine, I enjoy the hell out of it.

          I guess I always thought real car guys understood this. Yes, you have to pay to play, but that’s still better than driving something plebian. To me, at least.

          • 0 avatar
            The Heisenberg Cartel

            +1

            I’d rather have to replace one or two extra things a year than to pay 3x the money for some “given up on life” car that will use one less water pump over its lifetime. People, Americans in particular, tend to be offended by the very idea of car maintenance, though, ESPECIALLY preventative maintenance.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Weimer

            Funny thing is, they have this reputation for quality and reliability. Not so, at least anymore (and maybe never for Audi). I had an Audi A4, ’98 20v V6. It turns out the entire front suspension is a wear item that demands replacement every 100K miles. The cost and frequency of repairs forced me to let it go at 127K miles, which is what you used to do to an average car 20 years ago but not so much anymore – except for the Germans.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            I understand it just fine.

            A 10 year old, base motored BMW which they built something like 4 million more of is the very definition of plebian.

            You put up with bad reliability for something special. A 2003 german Civic isn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            The Heisenberg Cartel

            @Dan

            which is why the base model 3 series’ parts are far cheaper than those in an M3.

            And you think a 3-series is the equivalent of a Civic? It’s obvious that you’ve never driven one or both of those. Come back when you drive one for the first time.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Of course you can own a German car out of warranty. As long as you could afford to buy the same car new. Repairs are always cheaper than depreciation on a new one. But if you can only afford a new Civic, a used 740iL is probably not the car for you.

      Though I think as usual the reality is somewhere in-between. They are not cheap cars to run, but assuming you can work on it yourself they can be not THAT bad either. The reality is that they require (by design) a level of maintenance that cheap American and Japanese cars do not. I love the comment by the former Audi owner that “OMG! the entire front suspension is a 100K mile maintenance item”. Duh – how do you think they achieve that sublime ride/handling balance? If you want a suspension that lasts the life of the car, buy a Camry. But it will ride and drive like a Camry (and I don’t care how well Baruth can flog one on a track). You can’t make a 2-ton limo handle like a sports car without paying the piper. And that payment is not entirely upfront.

      And @Dan

      Seriously?? Even the most basic small-engine plastic-seated no-option 3-series ever made is a far more rewarding drive than a Civic (some SIs excepted, of course). And what is not there won’t ever break. Maintain it properly and it will be bulletproof. And yes, on an e46 that means replacing all the plastic cooling bits every 100K. Which is all of $500 once or twice in the life of the car if you can DIY.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        I agree. The real question is: are you able/willing to maintain and repair an $80,000 flagship? You absolutely can’t think of it in the same way as an $8,000 Camry.

        But if you’re willing to do it, it MIGHT not be THAT bad, especially if you are willing to do some repairs yourself. Key word: MIGHT.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        It’s an exaggeration to say you need to afford the same car new to buy a used one. It isn’t quite that bad. The total financial loss seems about equal to a $25k new car, maybe $30k. And that’s making some assumptions about resale.

        The painful part about owning older German cars is the financial pain is doled out in less predictable intervals, and it always means cash. Because of that, these cars have to be below your means. If $8k for a 740iL stretches your budget, you are in trouble. I wouldn’t say you need to be able to swing a $70k car (or whatever a base trim long-wheelbase 7 goes for these days) to keep up though.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Ok, so lets adjust it to “a used one with a warranty” once you get past the cost of a new 3-series.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I was on this earlier. 2009 BMW 750Li’s (the first year for the new F01 7-Series) are getting into the mid and low $30K range. Of course, these all have time-expired warranties or high mileage. 2011 740i’s and 740Li’s (the first year for the turbo-six in the F01) can be had for about $40K with just a bit of the 4-year/50K mile warranty left. The F01 doesn’t seem as perilous as its E65 predecessor, but it’s still not a car for the budget-oriented, or for someone who would be SOL if it failed to start or needed expensive repairs…

      • 0 avatar
        The Heisenberg Cartel

        If you buy an 8000 dollar 7-series and have to put 6,000 into it in 5 years (assuming no DIY maintenance as that drops that figure a ton), then that’s a total of 14,000 dollars. If you buy a brand new 7-series for 80,000, you can expect to pay around 100,000 over the life of the five year loan, with EXCELLENT credit. You don’t need to be able to afford a 100,000 car to put 14,000 into a car.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I LOVE BMWs and I think that the idea of an $8K 7-series costing only $6K over 5 years is completely and utterly laughable. Pick the wrong car and you could spend that in the first few months! Tires alone will probably cost close to $3K over 5 years, assuming you actually put tires of the proper quality on. He’s talking about a daily driver, not a weekend diaper rubbed toy.

          The amount of money it takes just to get one of these cars back up to scratch after some neglect is not to be underestimated, and any of them that are selling for $8K HAVE been neglected at this point – the OP was talking about cars on BHPH lots for God’s sake!

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Sounds like the OP is putting off a change, but I have #s that should be useful for future reference. Although I am only one datapoint, years of reading BMW forums indicates the problems I ran into are typical.

          I owned a 98 540i6 for 58 months. I bought it with around 120k miles for somewhere around $9k. I forget exactly. It has an awful lot in common with the E38 740iL from a mechanical standpoint. E38 ownership should be similar; maybe a bit more expensive.

          Total maintenance cost for that time including tires (winter and summer), oil changes, brakes, and suspension parts was $13,900. A DIYed real easy stuff like window lifters. Most work was done at an indy who let me bring my own parts on occasion. This could have been even worse.

          I sold it with almost 200k miles for $2400 in need of further repair. It needed a lot of leaks closed up (valve cover, upper timing cover, valley pan), but still got me to work everyday with no trouble.

          So $13,900 in maintenance/repair + $7,100 in depreciation. $21,000.

          If you bought a $30k car new, it’s not hard to imagine maintenance/repair+depreciation adding up to $21k after five years. Definitely with a $35k car.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I would buy a 2000~2006 Lincoln LS with under 50,000 miles in original condition. Get the V8.

    I have rented these cars back in the day and they are wonderful to drive in the twisties. The interior is first class.

    My friend has one with 180,000 miles. Still runs and looks like new. He always changes his fluids himself and says the only thing out of the ordinary was needing coil packs around 120,000 miles.

    Low mileage examples pop up on eBay it seems every month. Be patient and get one out of Florida. No road salt and chances are it’s an elderly owner either trading up or and estate sale.

    • 0 avatar
      Trend-Shifter

      I would even break my V8 rule…
      Buy this one now! Copy & paste all the ebay link

      http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ABSOLUTLY-STUNNING-LUXURY-SPORTS-SEDAN-S-FLORIDA-NEW-RUST-FREE-ONLY-33K-/171117973994?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item27d76d11ea

      33,000 miles, from Florida, $7490 buy it now price!
      Look at that undercarriage picture and the interior picture.
      Heck, I want it!

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve always liked the LS, and if the right one came up (mint condition, fully documented V6 5spd in a colour that isn’t black, silver, or beige) I’d consider buying it. However, I’m not sure I’d call the interior first class…there’s a lot of Ford-esque switchgear in there, and the whole centre console always looked cheap to me. I haven’t driven one, but I’ve heard they’re very nicely balanced on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That’s right, there’s a lot of 02 Continental bits in there.

        However, if you get one from the last couple of years, they did give it a Navigator type treatment for wood and metals.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I want to like LS, but in my experience its a car you go into with your eyes wide open. Will it be a flatbed queen? Hopefully not, but will it be drop dead reliable? I’d say 50/50.

      I’d also doubt you could fit three car seats into simultaneously because its not the roomiest car I’ve ever seen, but I’m prepared to be wrong if anyone can confirm.

  • avatar
    Mathias

    >> I’m aware that any premium brand is going to require a bit of money socked away for maintenance and willing to live with that

    “Being aware” and “willing to live with” is all nice and good, but if you can control your money to that extent, why are we having this conversation?

    I’m all for buying ‘hobby cars’ — but there are two rules: you buy for cash, and you have other transportation.

    Two and three car seats and you’re thinking about a 740??? Have you lost your marbles? Go buy a minivan.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    The Q does not intimidate me the way the BMW does. A mid 90’s version with the timing chain guide upgrade and a decent maintenance history can be bought in our neck of the woods for $4000 or less. They are good DD’s and can be relied upon. Ours was purchased with 98k and went to 160 in our fleet without anything but normal upkeep. I’m not sure about the active suspension models, though. I get that you want something with panache, while also not breaking the bank or your contract to care for the family. It can be accomplished, and the sound of that great V8 will be music to your commuter ears.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Sweet jeebus those luxo-barges depreciate hard. And for good reason!

    Find a boring family sedan or SUV by one of the reliables (Toyota, Honda, SOME Ford [1], etc). They may not have depreciated nearly so much, but there is a reason why they haven’t…

    [1] Ford of 10 years ago, for non-trucks, the criteria is “how much Mazda”. Thus, e.g. the Fusion is pretty good: Mazda transmission, mazda platform.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    I can’t imagine that an E38 would be more difficult to work on than an E46, which is way easy in most scenarios. As long as you can do maintenance yourself, you only live once so go for it. I’d listen to the BMW forum members, rather than the commenters who have bought wholesale into Toyohonda’s marketing.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I have to say, I’m more intimidated by the modern BMWs (the 2002 “E65″ 7-Series and onward) than the E38. The latter seems positively analog by comparison, and there are no turbos or iDrive units to contend with. Also, the E38 is from the pre-Bangle days when BMWs were nothing so much as stretched versions of the same car. The E38 shares quite a few non-trivial parts with the 5 and 3-Series of that era, as well as the X5.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I sure do understand Zamoti. I went from the 2nd best sedan I’ve every owned a Maxima SE to the best sedan I’ve every had a 535i. At the time, it seemed like the the only direction to go. The BIG difference is that the 535i was new. You are used to a painless existence with the Maxima, what you’re thinking about might not be as painless and could actual hurt. I understand your logic with going with a older luxury car seeing a lot of value. Until you can afford new, I’d stay away from the Germans and find yourself a nice Japanese car from a good family

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    The 2006-2009 Ford Five Hundred/Mercury Montego/Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable with the 6-speed is exactly what you want. The chassis feels so much more in command than, say, a Mercury Grand Marquis or a Lincoln Town Car, that sort of wallows by comparison. The command seating is fantastic.

    I made a similar calculation and purchased a Five Hundred with the Aisin 6-speed. My friend owns a newer Sable, with the Ford/GM 6-speed. He has had 70k miles of worry-free driving, just brake pads at 50k. I purchased mine used earlier this year, so I’m only just over 10k. For under $9k, I got the car with almost every feature on it (no Sirius, but power passenger seats) with money left over for new tires (the best Michelins one can buy), new brakes (just because I like to baseline the vehicle with those), and some sort of aftermarket powertrain warranty for two years just as insurance.

    I see these cars everywhere now – they’ve hit that part of the depreciation curve that they are where the H-body LeSabre was six years back.

    The 3.0 has plenty of get-up-and-go, though not as much as the 3.5, and the car is definitely a respectable sedan for an adult to drive. The women certainly like it better than my Uglibu or when I had an Impala.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I know a guy who got a nicely loaded Montego for under ten grand. It’s really a beautiful car, with plenty of interior space. He lucked out big time.

      • 0 avatar
        tooloud10

        Seriously? The guy has a Maxima, wants to get a BMW, and y’all are recommending a Five Hundred or Montego?

        Hell, I’d have kept my mouth shut if you’d even have just recommended a new Maxima, but…

        • 0 avatar
          MrGreenMan

          Yes, seriously; have you driven one? There are cars you would never consider until you get behind the wheel, and cars you hate when you get behind the wheel of what was supposed to be good; different strokes for different folks; my friends with Maximas all got out of Nissans on the replacement cars – some went Ford, some went Subaru.

          There is no BMW dealer near me anymore, but I test drove a Regal GS, an ATS with the 3.6, and a bunch of mid-sizers just before this purchase. I couldn’t see commuting in the German cars – BMW, Audi, VW – when I lived in Ann Arbor and could test drive them, and I assume he’d be buying used the cars I found to be excessive on the badge price for a boulevard cruiser/daily driver (NOTE: He isn’t buying a weekend car here). I loved the Jaguars, but, again, he wants a daily driver that can move people.

          I zeroed in on this remark from his letter: “It has room for all, looks good, and above all else, it is a gentleman’s car.”

          President Roosevelt eschewed a Cadillac or a Lincoln for a top-trim Ford; a top-trim Ford is like a top-trim Toyota or Honda – it’s a respectable car, not like the “LTZ” which knows you would rather have a Buick or a Cadillac or an Oldsmobile (RIP).

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      I had $6,000 to spend on a reliable vehicle, and got a 2005 Five Hundred SE with the 6-speed. It was *just* under 100,000 miles, but looked and drove like it was new. After a year and 15,000 miles, I have no regrets.

      It might have Ford badges and a Ford engine (a revvy 3.0 Duratec V6), but its bones are Volvo, and it shows. The suspension hits the right combination of absorbency and handling, and steering is accurate and reasonably direct. The Aisin 6-speed makes the most of the Duratec, making it sing when the need arises.

      Also, you get larger-than-7-Series space inside, and a trunk big enough for 6 or 7 dead bodies.

      I see it as getting a Volvo driving experience at a Ford price tag.

      • 0 avatar

        And, more importantly, a Ford maintenance schedule. The Five Hundred / Montego have *very* good reliability histories. The Volvo S80 of the same era (as much as I love it)…not so much.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I agree on the value of the 06-08 Sable/Taurus. I’d choose those over the Montego/500 because of the bigger engine, and better gearbox. They’re also much newer looking, and are available with -AWD- if you can find one.

          But they are cheap cheap, big, and reliable. I rode in a Montego once and found the ride quite nice.

  • avatar
    MWebbRambler

    First, I REALLY want an E38 740i with the sport package. But the only thing more unreliable than a $8000 7-series is an $8000 Jaguar XJR.

    I’d go with the Infiniti or Lexus. You can get a lot of Lexus or Infinit for the money. If you really liked the Maxima, you can get a really nice I30/I35 for that money.

    I should know, I bought an I30 with 97K miles on it for $4500. It gave me four trouble free years before a perfect storm of A/C, alternator, and brake repairs made me decide to sell it.

    • 0 avatar
      CGHill

      “Perfect storm” perfectly describes my I30 experience; I have now spent approximately what I paid for it as a six-year-old used car on keeping it up to snuff for the next seven years. The waters are placid right now, mostly because everything one might reasonably expect to replace at 100k has been replaced. And I am loath to give it up: it’s a sweet long-distance ride, not too bulky around town, and it sneers at the EPA 17/25 revised rating. (Consistent 21/27 all this time.)

  • avatar

    Sensible doesn’t need to be boring. You can get an exciting, fun, “gentleman’s car” for $8000…and not have to pay $8000 in repair bills in the first four weeks either! However, as much as I love the E38 (and I do), I’d rather recommend the following:

    – Loaded Mazda6 5spd. Hatchback or wagon if you can find one, and ideally with the V6. If you can afford the 2007+ refresh, go for it.
    – If you like your Maxima, what about a low mileage, final year (2004?) I35. That would give you most of the E38s luxury features but with the added bonuses of familiarity and reliability.
    – 2004+ Saab 9-5, with the AF33 Aisin ‘box and the sludge-free update of the 2.3T engine. If you can afford it, go for the updated 2006 model with the more reliable GM electronics. They’re good cars, undervalued, and had had most of the kinks worked out after 8 years of production (!)
    – A Lincoln Zephyr or early-run MKZ
    – A Subaru Legacy or Outback with the H6 engine
    – I’d love to second Trend-Shifter’s plug for the Lincoln LS, but I don’t know enough about the reliability of the 3.9L. A 3.0L V6 5spd might be fun though (if hard to find and now at least 11 years old).

    All these cars offer refinement, luxury, reliability, and a modicum of sportiness at a much lower long-term cost than any old Bimmer or Benz. They’ll also save you hugely on gas vs. the Q45, E38 7 Series, etc.

    An aside: my father purchased a final-year E34 540i earlier this year. It’s a lovely car: mint condition, single owner, 100,000 miles. My parents drove it up to Prince Edward Island and back in July — a 1000 mile round trip – without a hitch. However, he’s prepared to cover the bills and isn’t planning to use it as any more than a summer/weekend/vacation car. The trusty 250,000 mile Saab NG900 S and my mum’s epically reliable 2005 9-5 Arc will remain the daily drivers. The Bimmer is nice, but I’d be hesitant to put it through the daily grind, given the potential repair costs.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      I’m late to the party, I realize, but I’d second the recommendation of Subarus with the H6. I have 137K on my ’03 H6 Outback and will probably be keeping it another 3-4 years. I may have had one four-figure repair (maintenance) bill in all that time. Find a good independent mechanic or do your own work, and they’re fairly cheap to run.

      The H4s get better mileage, but don’t get one unless you want to be writing to Piston Slap about actual piston slap.

  • avatar

    Seconding what others have said, also consider the 500/Montego/Taurus. If you’re set on a full-size V8 luxury car, most of the Northstar issues had been worked out for the final two years of FWD Seville STS production (2003-4. That might represent a decent value.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    Some of the suggestions for alternatives to this car are completely ridiculous. Especially Mazdas and Ford Tauruses. Come on. This dude wants a 7-series. If you are looking into an old 7-series, you aren’t looking into it by accident.

    Here’s some alternatives that make a little more sense:

    -old Mercedes S-class (but reliability probably isn’t much better)
    -Lexus LS400
    -Infiniti Q45
    -Infiniti M45
    -Acura Legend (front wheel drive but still real nice)
    -Chrysler 300 (maybe)
    -Lincoln LS (I know nothing of the reliability, though)
    -E39 5-series
    -E46 3-series (if it isn’t too small)
    -Cadillac CTS
    -Cadillac STS (the rear drive version)

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think even an E39 is too small, nevermind an E46. You can put two adults in the back of an E39 for a road trip, but I dunno about three car seats. E46 is definitely too small.

      E39 will also have similar maintenance costs to the E38.

      Maybe a GS430? Not sure how spacious those are (or aren’t).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Thank you to the GS recommendation. You can easily fit 3 people in the back, same engine as LS, and a lower entry price. It’s also MUCH more stylish than that early 00s LS, and has aged better. The dash in the LS screams 90s – find a GS with nav and it’s not so.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Ignoring the idea of whether or not an E38 or other similarly depreciated luxobarge is a sensible idea, do you really want to get something so complex and trouble-prone from a BHPH lot? I’d think in that case, you’d want to stick to a dealer that specializes in whatever marque you’re buying, or a private owner who can verify the car’s been paid for. I mean, on a Honda Civic or something else pretty idiotproof, at least the potential for future problems is somewhat quelled, but on an unobtanium-filled German, you’re just asking to be stranded, right?

    Also, what about a G35? It’s admittedly a little smaller, but you should be able to find one in that price range, and I believe they’re easy enough to own outside of the first year.

    • 0 avatar

      G35 is a good option; I was going to recommend it in my long list (see above), but find the interiors on the early first-gen models a bit chintzy. An I35 would probably suit the buyer’s needs better, even if it’s an older, less-premium, less interesting design.

    • 0 avatar

      Also, agreed on staying away from BHPH lots. I wouldn’t buy an older Euro car — heck, *any* older car — unless it had a full service history, a record of preventive maintenance and 3000 mile oil changes, and a clean CarProof. Those things are going to be hard to come by at a place that specializes in quick sales of Mitsubishis and used Avengers to the low end of the market.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s a good point. In my city—where most people’s idea of a luxury car is an F-250 King Ranch—there is a small indoor luxury car shop. They currently have a Continental GT, a Cayenne GTS, a late-model E550 coupe, a 911, and some other cars. I would talk to them about finding me something if I were going to buy an out-of-warranty German car…

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Why not a Caddy DHS/DTS? They have plenty of room and the lower trim DTS models have a bench seat which many people still like. One of the last cars to offer one. The DHS is sportier with larger wheels, buckets, floor shift, handling package etc. German luxury without the repair bills. The Northstar is much better and does not have the issues the earlier ones had. There are plenty out there especially in retirement communities, just avoid the high mileage ones used as liveries.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Read “The Millionaire Next Door”. Then have a look at a Civic.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    2005 Buick LeSabre. All the room you need, decent fuel mileage and the bullet-proof 3.8/4-speed auto. And driving one exudes class, of a sort. You might even find yourself being treated with more respect, at least by older people. You’ll also have $1000 or so left over to spend on fuzzy dice and Scotchgard.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      Do you know where these are still plentiful and not on the third driver? I looked for the swan-song LeSabres, and, being near enough to the Land of LeSabre, I was surprised to see that I couldn’t find any in east Michigan. (15 years ago, in the greater environs of Flint, it looked like one in three cars was a LeSabre; there was no such love for the Bonneville, although the 88 seemed to horn in on things as you got into the Lansing market.)

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The elderly are still holding onto them…finding a final generation Park Avenue Ultra for sale at all is surprisingly difficult, I bet it’s not much easier for LeSabres.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I bought my 2003 from a Lincoln dealer’s used car cream puff selection. The intake manifold gaskets had already been replaced. The price was a little high at $7800, but it had 56k miles. Check local Lincoln/Cadillac dealers used car inventory. The one I bought wasn’t listed on any of the car buying web sites except the dealer’s.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I’ve been considering an E38 myself, but the only ones available in my ENTIRE STATE are iL’s, and I’d really rather have the standard-wheelbase model.

    I’m VERY picky about a car’s appearance, and nothing else looks like an E38. To me, that’s enough to justify the work involved in running one. I know there are more reliable vehicles available, but there’s something about the way the E38 looks. Not an E32, not an E65, an E38.

    That being said, it seems like the general tone here regarding these cars is based on the assumption that the new owner will have only this one car for transportation and treat it like a Camcord – commute through stop-n-go traffic, to and from work every day, to and from the store, with an attitude of “I’m never going to maintain it, and if it breaks, it’s because it’s a piece of crap.”

    I mean, not just for this particular guy, but in general, the advice seems to be, “Horrors! Not an out-of-warranty BMW!”

    Maybe it’s me, but old BMWs, Mercedes and Audis don’t scare me, because I follow this simple pattern – buy a well-maintained one and just accept that it demands OEM parts and regular service.

    I’m not even terribly concerned about the maintenance history (as long as it clears Carfax) because I can do everything short of mounting and balancing the tires myself.

    Mindset is everything – this isn’t a Corolla. It’s like a romantic relationship – the desirable ones, the ones worth having, demand a minimum level of maintenance.

    Of course, I LIKE to work on my cars, I’m equipped to do it and I buy the cars I do with at least some eye toward “project” vehicle status. Plus, I own more than one, so I have a backup if one needs work.

    So, I figure, get the car you like, but just remember it’s not a Camcord and plan accordingly.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      While I firmly believe in regular maintanace, why is it that these German cars can’t handle a bit of neglect that a Camcord, or even an Impala, simply shrugs off? Don’t say its the “sublime” handling, etc. The reason it can’t is that some of the parts are engineered to perform to a certain (usually high) standard but they are not designed with equal attention to longevity. That’s the trade-off made by BMW and others to meet the price target. A couple three decades ago, you got the durability too. Not today; the longevity is what has been scrapped to keep the price in line.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I agree 100% for the most part. Never forget, these cars are relatively cheaper than they were 25 years ago, and with ever greater content. On the other hand, I don’t think they are any more expensive to run long term than they ever where. They used to require expensive servicing every 5k miles, and stuff still wore out on a regular basis. My Stepdad then Mom ran an ’83 528e for 250k miles. That is probably the most reliable car BMW built back then, but I sure would not want to total up the service history on it. I would bet my ’11 3-series will be FAR less over the same miles, adjusted for inflation. Timing belt services alone are a big chunk of change.

        The myth that current BMWs are somehow worse than the old ones simply isn’t true.

        And ultimately, how much longevity of wear parts do you need?? Many cars get a new water pump with every timing belt change. The water pump on my car is considered a weak spot because it lasts 80-100k miles. But how many people even keep cars that long?

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Hey, I’m not going to argue sublime anything. In fact, I’ve often wondered why the Germans can’t seem to design an expensive car with the ruggedness of a Chevy, as you indicated.

        On a similar note, why has there never been a reliable V12? Is it because V12s are premium engines, and only go into cars intended for a demographic that loves gadgets and cutting-edge technology, but is indifferent to cost and maintenance requirements?

        Sorry, back on topic…

        Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right about the trade-off aspect, but my experience with European cars has been that if you find a well-maintained one, and make sure you keep it fed with the proper parts on the prescribed schedule, AND know what you’re getting into, AAAAAND have a backup vehicle or two, you’ll be fine.

        I generally agree with the advice in this article. While I like the E38 BMW, the W124 Mercedes coupes and various Audis, there’s no way I’d have one as my ONLY car.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Volvo 240 Wagon, ’nuff said.

    Failing the brick awesomeness, here are your two real options and a maybe:

    95-97 or 04+ Town Car
    90-00 LS400 or 01-06 LS430
    *Maybe* 4.9 Cadillac.

    That’s it folks in the flagship segment.

    Here are your other el cheapo flagships:

    Acura RL to 04: multiple drivetrain issues. Gen 2 RL I’m not familiar with.
    BMW 740/50: Noted above
    Cadillac [any]: Northstar badge says it all. Some early years of CTS have reported issues.
    Chrysler 300M/LHS: I’ve heard good and bad, the bad stemming from typical Chrysler build quality or issues (inc trans) surrounding the unique drivetrain. I will say LH is very roomy for what it is, esp the bigger Concorde and LHS variants. The higher end LHs also never had the 2.7 issues, as they were 3.5 equipped.
    Mercedes W220: Electrical issues among other things, parts expensive.
    Jaguar X308: Nikasil engine issues till at least MY01, air ride, rare, parts expensive. My dream as a Sunday car, but never as a DD.
    Infinti Q45: Gen 1 horribly bad trans, Gen 2 you won’t find. Don’t know much about Infinti after Q45, M might be worth a look.
    Volvo S80: Multiple issues including Gm sourced trans, bitch to work on. Avoid Volvo post MY98 till at least MY03 due to multiple issues. Only model of Volvo that’s been recommended to me post MY2000 has been S60.

    Check out this site before any purchase, I always do… its straight from the horse’s mouth:

    http://www.carsurvey.org/

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I saw a nice 760 GLE recently and thought of you.

      I would definitely buy a redesigned 760 GLE Turbo if given the chance, the “smooth brick” looks great.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Someone in my building had a sun bleached silver/grey 760 for a time, I assume either its long gone or they moved out. I would entertain a 760 if offered to me, but IMO the 200 has the 700 beat in overall practicality and durability. I see more 700s then I see 200s and the leather, heated seats, and other toys are long beat up. The older Volvos are interesting because while I believe at their age and rate of fuel consumption they are best as a Sunday car, but yet when well maintained are reliable, cheap to buy, and cheap to maintain (outside of fuel costs, where they are “m’eh”)

        My guy has a supposedly immaculate 84 or 85 242 auto that he wants me to buy, but its really just the coupe equivalent to mine, no turbo, no 5 spd, no sport package.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          The 760 GLE kinda confuses me, because I’m fairly sure the 760 only came in turbo and V6 form…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_700_Series

            They either came with the venerable B23 or B230 I4s or the PRV V6. I’d avoid the V6.

            EDIT: If the car is sound, a PRV spec’d Volvo 700 makes a nice “Volvette” if you are so inclined. Ford 302 drops right in, I believe there’s a kit for the transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Though at least with the Jaguar, you could swap in an LSx. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Well naturally :) But doing it all “right” might exceed his 8K budget. I also think the LSx would require a new transmission with the (Ford designed) X308 as opposed to the X305/X300 ZF or earlier GM sourced transmissions.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If it was me personally, I’d get a Bonneville SLE (the ’05 version lost the cladding if you hated it) or another Maxima.

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Like some others have said or intimated, that $75,000 car you paid $8,000 for used will still be a $75k car when it needs repairs, e.g., the window lift motor will be $1,000; a front strut.$1500, etc. But there are aftermarket rebuilt parts cheaper, but not after warranty labor. And I speak from experience since my wife has an ’06 CLS 500 (bought in ’05) with only 32k miles on it. It’s maybe worth $30k, but repairs, parts and labor, even with an independent are pricey. And don’t even think about going to a dealer for service/repairs.

  • avatar
    Prado

    As a couple others mentioned…a 2003-2005 G35 seems like an obvious choice if it meets your space needs. Classy, sporty, reliable. To me, the G35 was the real successor to the JDM Maxima/Cefiro. They may harder to find, but a late Infiniti I35 might do the trick as well. I’m not sure of the last year they were built… there was some overlap with the G35.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    I agree with most here, but there is a middle ground. The five hundred is a nice large car for a bargain. I have looked in that range and my favorite choice is honestly the mercury Milan. Semi sporty, nicely appointed, often forgotten, and good reliability. No German ride, but much more affordable. Plenty of mazda 6, fusion, Altima/maxima to choose from with a nice v6. I am sure there is a Chrysler 300 out there for you as well.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Paying a 2nd mortgage and need room for three car seats? Pay your mortgage, find something hat will hold three car seats. Then find something that you deem cool in your price range. Family, investments, then toys;)

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    Forget the 740i. Spend $550 and do a self-discovery course called the Landmark Forum. Use the course to explore why it is important to you to pretend that you have more than you have. I wish that I had done this 30 years (and many expensive cars) ago.

    • 0 avatar
      The Heisenberg Cartel

      Why are you even here?

      • 0 avatar
        Piston Slap Yo Mama

        Here’s a Landmark Forum clip that should thoroughly … enlighten you: http://youtu.be/Sf7eKXKmi24

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Hell, I’ll tell him he’s trying to keep up with the Jones for $50… The only thing dumber then buying an old BMW 7 is spending $550 on this nonsense

          • 0 avatar
            The Heisenberg Cartel

            LOL. I just googled this stuff. Same old happy crappy stuff that gets nobody anywhere in life. I don’t need to spend 550 for someone to tell me that I like BMWs because I’m a jerk who’s obsessed with his self image. I got that lesson for 90 dollars and bruises up and down my arms from the bad water pump that took 2 hours to pull out of the car because of a stuck gasket.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      Don’t take the replies you got personally SMIA, it’s easy for them to be rude behind the semi-anonymous nature of the blog. Heaven knows I’ve come close to never coming back myself to TTAC. You have to pick which have credible weight, because heaven knows I don’t even like some of the writers (and there are several I don’t bother to click on.)

      Back to your original point, I find programs more interesting if they let me discover more about why I act the way I do. Even if buying a car is just an admission of NPD, the best decisions we make are the ones that ultimately make us happier. I know that I would live my life as a fake if I didn’t do what was deep in my heart. A nicer car just happens to be part of what makes me tick.

  • avatar
    Vojta Dobeš

    It seems that no one yet suggested the most obvious choice of them all, especially this being TTAC, so I have to be the one who does it.

    So, Panther. Or a last generation B-body, prefferable a Fleetwood or Roadmaster. Especially the big Caddy looks like a million bucks, it should be available with your budget, and under the posh bodywork, there’s still a good, ol’ Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I do like how you think Vojta. Clean last gen Fleetwoods are becoming a rarity though, but as you point out it fits his budget and his needs.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      I have actually done precisely what you suggest. I currently have less than $8,000 invested in a ’99 Grand Marquis with 28k on the clock. It is ‘refurbished’ with near total replacement of rubber, soft bits and filters. A set of Addco swaybars and some premium tires vastly improved the handling while keeping the soft freeway ride. Cop car dual exhausts would add another 20 bhp if I ever need it.

      Easy formula. Choose an older, good, solid car with ultra low miles that suits your needs. Replace all the oxidized soft bits. Apply a little aftermarket magic.

      This Sanjeev fellow really seems to know what he is talking about.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    DO IT DO IT DO IT. YOLO and all of that stuff

    No “mazda m6″ or ford 500 has the gravitas and feel for driving that a big 7 has. Get the one with the heated steering wheel — the greatest option known to man. I packed three small ones in the back of the 750il and they said it was the greatest ride they ever had; who wouldn’t like heated, reclining seats when you are 10?

    Yes, it is going to cost more. Yes, it is not a camcord or some vanilla wrapper. You want a luxury car with amenities few other cars have (the back seat alone is worth the price of admission)? Then do it.

    Oh, yeah, but don’t complain to the B&B when this thing breaks. Because it will. And it is going to be expensive, even if you turn your own wrenches.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @28: It’s a bit confusing because, unless Wikipedia is lying, the 760 only came with turbo 4s or V6s.

    A 740/760 or 240 with the 16 valve DOHC turbo 4 sounds like a nice machine to have. Surely upgrading to DOHC provided a nice power boost.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Heh. Wiki doesn’t lie, it’s just sometimes not accurate. There are stories of wiki editors persistently removing accurate information and the battles that result. here’s a line from wiki’s Generation Y entry:

      “Generation Y” alludes to a succession from “Generation X”.[citation needed]

      Do you really need a citation to indicate that Y comes after X in the alphabet? With such anal-retentive editors, you’re better off looking up car data from MSN Autos, Edmunds or automobile-catalog.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That’s correct, from what I was told the 760 was an attempt to take the 700 series even further upscale, and in 80s America context this meant at least V6 (if not a V8). However for whatever reason the turbo 4 was also offered (in stick and auto) and was presumably ordered more often than the V6 (perhaps it was the base 760 and you paid more for the V6?). It would be interesting to see a used Volvo lot in 1990 in order to confirm which engine was more popular, but over the years the turbo B230 easily outlasted the PRV V6, and probably powers all but a handful of the 760s left on the road.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    Dude suck it up. You’re a family of 5, buy a freaking used minivan and be done with it. You’ve fathered 3 children, you’ve proved your manhood so you don’t need a money pit to impress women you shouldn’t even be talking to.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    While I LOVE the E38 as pictured (those wheels make it), for the money the OP wants to spend you can get a nice 6 speed ’04 – ’08 Acura TL (the best looking of all the model years). Yes, they are wrong wheel drive but still very sporty, have a premium feel, features (NAV, ELS Surround Sound, power everything) and there’s several seemingly clean ’04/’05 examples between $7 – 9K on Autotrader now.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Let him have it! Don’t forget to tint the windows with some black trash bags.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I see these busted-ass BMW 7 series and Mercedes S-class flagships all the time clogging up the streets and front lawns of the ghetto. I’m usre many were purchased not long before being parked in the 8k range. Everyone wants to be a baller.

    About the only flagship I could recommend for you is a clean Town Car.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That’s right. So many 90s S-Classes have fallen from grace. Makes me sad because they’re so vault-tastic and awesome. Especially the ones with the little pegs rising from the rear when you reverse.

      And the double glazed windows. And ruched leathers.

      • 0 avatar
        beanbear

        Those W140’s had bad reliability from over-engineering, while the successor’s unreliability came from cost-cutting & mediocre engineering.

        We had both W123 and W126 diesels, and the only “OMG!” level repair crises tended to be re: the vacuum system leaks, which could be terrifying. These were the last MB’s my folks would own. The maintenance and repair issues eventually drove them to Toyota & Lexus.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I don’t see a big problem with the Q45 other than availability in your price range. Most of the 03+ for $8K are clapped out and owned by someone who put ghetto rims on, and didn’t take care of the interior. They didn’t sell many anyway, so it’s hard to find a decent used one. The exterior IMO also looks very dated on the first part of the run, before the redesign. It’s far too close to an Altima, and only the revised rear lamps and front fascia get away from this. You’d also want one with the Luxury package with reclining seats – because luxury. It also has things the older, more fragile BMW won’t have – like a good sat nav system, voice control, and radar cruise control. And rear seats which recline, did I mention that?

    I have read extensively on this model Q45, and they aren’t trouble prone if you keep a couple things in mind.

    -The first year 2002 model had some QC issues which were fixed by 03 and with recalls on 02’s. I’d still stay away from the 02’s.
    -You must keep with oil changes on time, every time, at 3k. Otherwise it’ll end up burning and you’ll have problems.

    But if you want to spend $8k, and you want RWD, and you want a V8, I shall recommend my own car, an 01+ GS430. I got mine 11/2010, with 92K miles, silver over grey, with navigation for $9000. It needed some cleaning as the owner was a drink-coffee-while-driving fanatic, but other than that perfect inside. Just a couple of dents.

    Since November of 2010 it’s needed:
    -Timing belt since it was past due
    -Front shocks
    -Oil changes

    It doesn’t look old like other cars from the early 00s, it’s responsive, has xenon -adjusting- lamps, and has always performed on command. Handles well, sound system is great, and the nav is good enough for its age since I don’t want to stick something to the dash.

    They made them til 05 this way, since you can’t afford an 06+. I’m sure you can find a nice, low-enough mileage example with an individual owner for a good price in your budget. Got mine from the owner who had got a company car (new Focus) so was getting rid of it. Make sure it hasn’t got rust if you’re in a rusty area (mine’s always been in Ohio and doesn’t have any), and that the timing belt has been done – or get a discount for it.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    Wow, I asked Sajeev about this a while back and took my newspaper to the nose (via email) and presume that it wouldn’t be posted. Shame on me for being late to the party.
    At any rate, I will offer this summary response:
    Taurus/500/Monterey/Boring Ford Sedan, um no. A few people (Heisenberg) seemed to hone in on the deal, but many said “get a Civic”. Well, life is just too darn short to drive a cloth-seated Civic.
    I do like the idea of the bricks, but I did vintage Volvos already and while I enjoyed them (960 wagon, V70 turbo), I feel like it is time for something different.
    I ever so briefly considered a panther, but the interior is just such a turd, I could not imagine having to stare that down every day for the next several years. Plus, it seems like everyone would just drive slowly around me worrying that I might issue a ticket.
    I will admit being intrigued by the GS430, but in the end I’ve decided to just put another year of cash in the bank and try it again next summer. I put some ghetto-fabulous used tires on the Max and will probably go for a weekend of fluid changes in preparation for dreaded winter.
    What I find the most interesting about this go-round of advice is how many people recommended Ford sedans. While I don’t have any objection Fords or sedans, it’s just a very odd combination. It went from e38 to Lincoln LS to 500, Montego and then Taurus. Not Camry, not Accord not even Malibu. Right to Ford it went and stayed. B&B I thought I knew ye?!
    Oh well, thanks for the advice, see you next year (unless someone spots a powder blue Max alongside 315 in the coming months). In the mean time, I’ll have to invest in mustache wax and tophats aspiring toward gentlemanly-ness.

    • 0 avatar
      hands of lunchmeat

      I was just impressed how it went from ford sedan to LSx swapped Jaguar. Aka the old apples to zebra comparison.

      nothing like hanging onto the old hooptie OP. I won’t be one to parrot some awful advice like a lot of other people in this thread but it seems that babies and additional mortgages make holding onto your old beater Max the ever more endearing choice.

      However I will say there aren’t many cars I enjoy driving more than my e38. Parking it in NYC is another story.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        How very nice of you to appreciate my bucket with wheels, how wonderfully cruel of you to wag your e38 around.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          The advice went extreme only because if you’re like the rest of us you’re going to get what you damn well please. None of us ever learned from other people’s mistakes, we learned from our own. Enjoy your 7 whenever you get it and don’t say we didn’t warn you

    • 0 avatar
      The Heisenberg Cartel

      For the record, I somehow missed the “three car seats” aspect the first time. In that case, ignore my E46 and Cadillac CTS suggestions.

      If you’re open to crossovers, I’d recommend a BMW X5. Volvo wagons a la Gus Fring are pretty badass as well.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        I had that very wagon, in red. It had the low pressure turbo and was actually pretty fast. A combination of deferred maintenance from the previous owner and a small fire conspired against me. It did not catch fire but the escalade my wife parked nose up to did. The fire department did pull it back with minimal damage; it melted the nose just a tiny bit so from then on it always looked a little sad like droopy dog.
        I do miss how that funky turbo five would sing. It was an odd sound and I rather enjoyed it.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    I’ve already bought into the concept of a dignified daily driver, so I understand the appeal. And you’ll never get it out of your system until you own one. But…

    $5000 a year. That’s how much it costs to run my 02 LS430 (not including depreciation, but including 12,000km/yr gas, insurance for someone who’s never been in an accident, wear items, and maintenance). It’s probably higher for a German flagship for the last two items. If that number scares the OP, then stop and reconsider.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Though your premium fuel up in Canadialand is quite a lot more expensive than the US, right?

      • 0 avatar
        WaftableTorque

        I fill up on 87 octane. I save $250 a year at the expense of a full 2 seconds added to my 0-60 time. I waft with low end torque, so it’s no big deal to me. No major stuff has broken, but I need new trunk struts and a new tilt/telescoping steering motor. I also have a couple of tires to replace next year due to sidewall damage. And I’ll eventually have to take the car in to diagnose why my GPS antenna occasionally stops tracking my position accurately. Just because it’s a Lexus doesn’t mean it’s trouble free.

        But the car’s paid for, I still enjoy it (despite that recent LS400 article that incensed me to no end), I wouldn’t gain much marginal utility from buying a new one, and I’m not even sure I like the new LS.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      Real numbers, how very rare! Especially as it applies to a Japanese luxury car–most people would never admit to buying anything more than brakes and tires for fear of denting their pride and admitting that-GASP!-their car occasionally breaks!
      However, that’s not too bad as it includes gas and regular maintenance. Also used to premium gas, the Max drinks it up like Daniel Day Lewis drinks your milkshake. That I still drive like a teenager is doing my mileage no favors.

      Numbers don’t scare me, spiders do.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    My 2000 XJR with 88k miles has cost approximately $5k in just over a year and a half in repairs. That’s a mix of self repairs and dealership. Its never been on a flatbed. I’ve put 24k miles on it. Serious issues are cured and only minor things are on my to do list. I plan on driving it a lot more in an attempt to turn this into a slightly less bad decision. But it still slurps fuel at an insane rate.

    If I were to do it again I’d just drive sub $2k range rovers until they blow up then scrap them. I suspect all the aluminum could get you a better scrap price than normal and they weigh 6k lbs. With that approach I could have afforded nearly 10 range rovers for the same price. Surely 10 old range rovers can go 23k miles, I think?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That’s because you have to buy 02+ Jags. Or for the XJ, really 05+ since the 04 had lots of QC factory issues.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Last two years of X308, I believe 02-03. I’m not gambling after that…

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          If I ever get one (and I want to), it’ll be one that’s already cheap enough with enough miles that when the AJ tosses it’s chains, it’ll be cost effective for the LS swap. With a GM powertrain, I can’t imagine it being too fearsome a daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        korvetkeith

        Anything later than the x308 looks like a bloated pig in comparison. To do it right, buy a non nikasil 308 XJR with documentation of the tensioners being replaced. Or budget $1400 for an Indy to replace them. Avoid non supercharged cars. The ZF trans in them also has issues. The benz trans in the R is robust in comparison.

        The real risk for the nikasil cars was if they were ever used with leaded fuel. Leaded fuel was phased out in 2000. If not they are fine. My car uses half a quart over 5k miles.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    I daily-drive a 1994 Mercedes E420. One of the last of the W124s. I also have a friend who DDs a 2003 530i.

    It’s not a ridiculous proposition to drive one of these. The key is to keep up on what needs to be done, DIY whenever you can, and try to stay away from options. My E420 has no ASR, which causes more problems than it solves. I typically spend about $2k a year in maintenance and repairs, which is less than the car payment for a Civic. Its certainly doable, but you’ll have to recognize that the car will require maintenance and repairs more than a new Toyonda will.

  • avatar
    kyngfish

    I’ve owned an 04 Mercedes SLK32 AMG for 3 years – and so far – it’s been great. But there’s a difference between reliable and durable. So far I’ve replaced the engine mounts, the drive-shaft rubber thingy, the crankshaft position sensor, a battery and terminal cable (in a 100 degree parking lot on a Sunday) and the connector between the transmission and the TCU which was causing a leak.

    I DIY as much as I can, and I’ve done the filters, oil changes, battery work, brake replacements, CPS sensor on my own.

    On deck is replacing the tail-lights (the bulb panel is warped – but some nice LED replacements can be had or 250) and the dome light housing (MB wants 260!!! dollars for it).

    If i needed to do a 30+ mile commute daily, I wouldn’t use it, but in a pinch, I can bike to my office – so I prefer having a car I love. I’ve always loved that 7-series, but if I couldn’t spend close to 20k on a car for myself, I’d worry that I am getting something that is a bit older with a lot of baggage from previous owners that may not be as crazy about maintenance as me.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I’ve owned an 04 Mercedes SLK32 AMG for 3 years – and so far – it’s been great.”

      I’ve often wondered how these cars held up as they’re rare enough around here that I don’t have any experience with them. The few I’ve seen seem like fairly attractive performance bargains that would be a bit different out on the road course.

      • 0 avatar
        kyngfish

        I got mine at 60k miles, and I’m at around 90k right now, but then I have wanted an R170 SLK since they came out in 99. I lucked out and found the last model-year in the highest trim for under 20k. I’m sure it won’t be easy, but I’d like to keep it forever if I can.

        Also, with 360ish horses and about the same amount of torques, it hauls some serious ass.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Also, with 360ish horses and about the same amount of torques, it hauls some serious ass.”

          I’m not much of a roadster guy, or an M-B guy, but that’s the part that appeals to me.

  • avatar
    hihosilver

    Swallow your pride and for the sake of your children and bank account buy a large family vehicle that can handle what you have to carry with minimal repair and maintenance/luxury. I.e. a large wagon, Honda Pilot, or something similar.

    Once your kids are out of the house, you can get the car of your dreams…..


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