By on August 12, 2009

TTAC Commentator JG sent us this link, and the following thought for the day:

I was thinking that the government should really be censoring these videos. If they can stand the test of time, in 50 years people will watch the videos and it will seem remarkable how utterly stupid some people are at this time. You probably don’t have time to watch this, but my favorite lines are @ 2:10: “Whatever dumbass traded this in probably bought a piece of shit that’s far worse than this thing . . . some Kia or some crap . . . such a waste.”

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72 Comments on “Cash for Clunkers Euthanasia: BMW 530iM 5MT...”


  • avatar
    Stingray

    ”Whatever dumbass traded this in probably bought a piece of shit that’s far worse than this thing . . . some Kia or some crap . . . such a waste.”

    EPIC

    And FAIL for the fool who traded a BMW for a POS.

    Can’t see videos at work, but saw the XJ one, and yes, the way to “disable” the car is retarded.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The BMW proved it’s point. It wasn’t ready to die.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Bought, paid for, becoming more and more expensive to maintain and therefore beyond it’s useful life.

    If it was so “valuable” it would be worth more than $4500! Geez. WTF?! Get over it people.

    The previous owner probably wanted a smaller, fuel efficient car with a long warranty; worry free. Perfect for them. Leveraged another $10-$15k into the deal too.

    Otherwise, the idiots in this video should be happy they aren’t out of job on Monday.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Not crying over this one. I’ve seen way too many BMW’s of this vintage with expensive problems at the auctions.

    Now if that were a 1995 Volvo 940 Turbo in great shape… that would be a far different story.

  • avatar
    Sabastian

    The law says that you CAN trade in your car, not that you MUST trade in your car. If the owner didn’t think that he could get more than $4,500 for that car, then he is the one to blame.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    these are all over europe and the uk

    they are nothing more than old sedans

    it’s no M5 is it?

  • avatar

    Mr. Goodwrench becomes Mr. Kevorkian.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    If it was so “valuable” it would be worth more than $4500! Geez. WTF?! Get over it people.

    The previous owner probably wanted a smaller, fuel efficient car with a long warranty; worry free. Perfect for them.

    Of course, by the same kind of argument, if the smaller, more fuel efficient worry free car were really worth it, the previous owner would have been willing to trade it in without the program. In which case the money was just pure subsidy split between the buyer and seller.

  • avatar
    shaker

    No doubt sent to its fate by an Obama “Death Panel”.

    NEXT…

    It’s a shame, but is symbolic for the future; ICE’s will eventually be relegated to collector’s items; start your collection now.

    Maybe someone can start a “charitable foundation” and run TV commercials showing these videos (much like the Humane Society shows dog and cat faces)…

    Save The Clunkers – your donation will save these beautiful classics from the Scrap Heap of History – In cooperation with the Jay Leno Foundation… etc.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    The Germans were the first to instate a “cash for clunkers” program, much to Bertel Schmitt’s pride.

    I’m sure many more “nice” BMWs and Mercedes are being destroyed there.

    People don’t go from semi-rare manual transmission BMWs to Kias. The Guy likely bought or leased, surprize, a new BMW.

    A 328i would have qualified him for $3500, which is more than the trade in value of this car. A Lexus IS250 manual would also have qualified for $3500.

    I’m just glad that this piece of crap has been destroyed so that some poor naive kid who actually works for his money (trust fund kids get new BMWs) doesn’t buy it and spend his youth getting raped on constant BMW repairs.

  • avatar
    doubleshooter

    I traded a BMW 525ia from the similar era… Lets make a list of the car needed….

    -Major Oil Leak(needed a quart a week)
    -Differential Leak
    -Needed a new radiator(Needed check/add coolant every other day)
    -Auto transmission slip
    -Tires
    -Front suspension work (control arms, struts etc)
    -Back suspension work (struts, who knows whatelse)
    -Air conditioning needed an overhaul
    -Heater barely could keep itself warm in winter
    -Cassette player out of action
    -Driver Power seat dead in awkward condition.
    -Busted fog lights, dead wiring to one of the taillights.

    Yes, My E34 ran like that in idle but the picture changed in other parts of the day. And, I did keep up with the maintainance, it just the frequency of the repair almost made me move to the poor house. So before I break your precious BMW hearts, I would like to say good riddance!! May my BMW burn in clunker hell!!

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ johnthacker

    if the smaller, more fuel efficient worry free car were really worth it, the previous owner would have been willing to trade it in without the program.

    That’s certainly one way to look at it. My guess would be the more likely scenario being that the owner was on the boundary of will-I/won’t-I get a new car, and the extra $$$ on the old car tipped them into a deal.

    Hence the liberation of the extra purchase contribution $$$ and a multiplier on the clunker cash.

    It’s about as pure a stimulus as you could hope for.

  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    Look through the comments and sort them between the people who have experience with sixteen year-old BMW’s and those who only remember the C/D review they read back in ’94.

    BMW’s, especially the early V-8’s, do not age well. I’d bet my lunch money today that 540 could have devoured at least six grand in needed repairs – and after putting all of that money in it would have still been a money pit. You’ll never run out of expensive things to break or wear out on those cars.

    For everyone pissing and moaning about these “classics” going to the crusher – put your money where your mouth is. Offer to buy one of these cars for $4500. I guarantee there’s no shortage of 90’s BMW, Audi, Volvo or (shudder) Jaguar owners in your area who’d love to help you start your collection.

    Any takers?

  • avatar
    commando1

    They’ll look back and view it the way we now view book burning.

  • avatar
    Stunned_BB

    I wonder when we will have “Cash for Seniors”? They are classics but have become too expensive to maintain.

  • avatar
    Roundel

    That was painfull to watch
    I have the exact car in red over tan leather with about 110,000 on it. But lo and behold its sitting unregistered as it needs a couple things. Mainly a new rear diff which would make my wallet a lot lighter. It also needs an AC intervention and a new paint job.
    The thing was my daily driver… but I was a stupid kid that bought the money pit. But I couldnt get myself to sell it, it just drove too well.
    So it waits until I can afford to be its sugar daddy again.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    And FAIL for the fool who traded a BMW for a POS.

    Well, now I probably know how my 95 540i6 fared on the execution table.

    But I’m driving no Kia krapkar. My new ride is a brand-spanking-new Jetta TDI Sportwagen with DSG and huge panoramic sunroof.

    The old car? 200K on the clock. Running great, but burning oil. Seats worn, and NO ONE else liked sitting in them. Oh, and that rust on the lower door edges, like MOST E34s? The peeling clearcoat? The sagging headliner? Please. I’d have been lucky to get $2500. I was into that car for around ten grand total over two years, after buying it for an initial $3500. That’s doing almost all the work myself — just parts.

    Did I mention the 540 liked the gas pump? I averaged 18.5 mpg. The TDI gets almost double, before it’s even broken in. It will get better.

    I can carry all my stuff and then some. I can carry adults in the back seat. I have a warranty. It handles highway passing requirements just as well as the 540, no joke (if I wanted to pass anyone in 6th gear, forget it. 5th? Better. But the TDI stays in 6th and accelerates almost as fast).

    If I lived in the back road twisties, maybe I’d miss the 540. Maybe.

    With CFC and diesel-related tax breaks, if I really want another used BMW in a few years I can sell the TDI. With depreciation, interest, and other expenses factored in, I’d come away no worse than if I’d kept the 540, and probably better. After my first two weeks with the TDI, I’d be surprised if I ever sell it.

    Without CFC, I would NEVER have bought ANY new car. But the program made it work for me. So I guess I’m a fool.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    If the owner thought he got a good deal, what’s the problem?

    Most 15+ year old cars are a mess, and BMW’s are no exception. If it’s not pristine, an M car, or otherwise rare it’s likely not worth $4500.

    I have a ’93 325is with 150k for the first person who’ll give me $4500!

    Anyone?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought….

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ dingram01

    Just to clarify. You recently accessed C4C from a ’96 540 into a Jetta TDI?

    You would seem to be an ideal “conversion” (if I might be allowed to use the term). Thanks for your post.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    You mean that little BMW got worse than 18 MPG.
    Crush that little POS twice.

  • avatar
    JG

    Sure, the BMW in question isn’t the greatest car (nicasil v8?), and who knows what the person bought; it’s the big picture that I’m trying to portray here. No one knows what the future holds, but chances are resources are going to become more and more scarce, the resources we now want to use to make someone a new car every 3 years. Waste is one thing but the reasoning behind C4C, saving the automakers and boosting the “economy” by spending a bunch of taxpayers dough, could turn out to be equally interesting looking back.

    For now have this bizarre circus show, blowing up cars behind dealerships by holding the long pedal to the floorboards. (Obviously many disregard the 2000 rpm guideline in the interests of expediency.) What a bunch of Cavemen!

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    Wow, sad video. When it was new it was an amazing car. BUT… the 3.0L V-8 (and the 4.0L but less so…) were not that well engineered in their early days. I believe it was an issue with nikasil (sp?) cylinder liners. BMW ended up replacing quite a lot of these engines even after warranty. A car like this is really hard to turn around because of the exact reasons other posts have laid out. This car was probably a money pit for the owner.

    Now, if you watch the other videos from the videographer you will find that he says over and over “F**king Obama”, etc. He should think of the wider view of the program and stop ranting about the following facts:

    1. He still has a job. (though if I was his boss and saw any of these videos I would fire him)

    2. Even though it is sad, most of the cars they “C4C’d” were less safe, less economical, and probably money pits.

    3. The profits (even if slim) from the sales of the vehicles that replaced the C4C’d cars are keeping his dealer open… *see #1*

    4. The USA is not the first country to enact a program like CARS… several EU countries, and the UK have also done them to surprising sales success.

    I guess my rant on this is over for now. I think that I would be less harsh on this d-bag in the video if he just kept his rants on the fact that some of the cars were rare and interesting… not the politics.

  • avatar
    shaker

    If the UK (if it hasn’t already) adopted C4C, “Wheeler Dealers” would go off the air, as many of the cars they “shift” would qualify… ;-)

  • avatar
    Fromes

    You act like this BMW was a brand new M3 or something like that, its a 16 year old car with what one can reasonably infer are sky high repiar bills and shitty gas milage, and who is to say that this person didn’t trade it for a new bmw?

  • avatar
    spt87a

    Nothing like “saving the environment” by taking something servicable to someone else (either for spare parts or home mechanic who wants to invest the time) and purposely destroying it so that a new one has to be made (with much more environmental impact than running the old one).

    Our govt. keeps creating bubbles with these incentives, creating false demand or taking future demand and accelerating it. Eventually, debts need to be paid, people run out of money, etc. and the bubble deflates. Brilliant to recover from the last popped bubble by making a new one. How about no incentives and let the market normalize.

  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    it’s the big picture that I’m trying to portray here. No one knows what the future holds, but chances are resources are going to become more and more scarce, the resources we now want to use to make someone a new car every 3 years.

    What resources are you speaking of? The metal in the cars will be recycled, with at least some of it winding up in another car, which is much more efficient than creating new steel and aluminum from ore.

    The energy to make the new replacement car? That does take a lot of electricity, but not nearly as much as will be saved by replacing a car that gets 15mpg with one that gets 30mpg.

    According to a study by the Argonne National Labratory, it takes 100 million BTU’s of energy to build a 3200 pound vehicle. Heavier cars require more energy and lighter cars use less, and their formula takes in the cost of hybrids.

    A hundred million BTU’s sounds like a lot, but it’s not. That’s equal to the energy in 870 gallons of gasoline. So if you trade your 18mpg clunker for a car of equal weight, every gallon saved above 870 over the course of its life will cause a net energy savings by buying the new car.

    But let’s look at a real world example. Dingram01 traded his ’94 540i for a Jetta TDI wagon. The Jetta has a curb weight of 3230 pounds, so it’s almost perfectly lined up with the 100 million BTU manufacturing cost from the Argonne study. Ding’s getting a diesel, which has 139K BTU’s per gallon, and that means he only has to save 720 gallons of fuel to become energy neutral.

    The EPA combined number for the 540i was 17mpg and the Jetta gets 35mpg combined. At 15,000 miles per year he’ll save 450 gallons of fuel every year. This means buying the Jetta will generate a net energy savings, including the energy to build it, before its second birthday. Over its expected 180,000 mile life, it will save over 900 million btu’s of energy.

  • avatar
    ruckover

    Book Burning?
    That is the attempted destruction of ideas, ideas that can change the hearts and minds of people. The destruction of some BMWs and other “collectables” is nothing like burning a book. There are cars that are works of art, and these would be a true loss if they were destroyed. A mass produced mid-90s BMW (whose owner no longer wants to pour money into it) is not one of these cars. Be upset if you want, but please, burning books and melting down used cars like this one are not similar.

  • avatar
    JG

    Those are good numbers BHF, if that’s the whole picture I guess you’re right.

    I’m guess I’m just old fashioned and hate seeing stuff go to waste, just as I believe everyone should work for their own money so they can buy the stuff they want. Thing is we’re all living in a subsidized society (roads, schools, etc…) so if I accept this I must accept that. Huh.

  • avatar
    Jason

    It’s an old, mass-produced machine. Why are you guys weeping and crying like old women over it?

    If he replaced it with a Kia, good choice. Likely has great mileage, great warranty, and won’t randomly explode and leave you stranded for the next six years at the very least. That’s three things this old BMW cannot give you.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I too am old fashioned. If those are good numbers, then anybody with fundamental math skills could have figured it out.

    And they could have figured out how to pay for it with their OWN DAMNED MONEY.

  • avatar
    jmo

    baldheadeddork,

    Hah – don’t try and use logic on these people. I had this argument before and some people are convinced it takes $30,000 worth of energy to build a $20,000 car.

  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    Those are good numbers BHF, if that’s the whole picture I guess you’re right. :

    I’m guess I’m just old fashioned and hate seeing stuff go to waste, just as I believe everyone should work for their own money so they can buy the stuff they want.

    Get off my lawn!

    Thanks for the compliment. I put over 150K on a Kawasaki EX500, so I’m familiar with riding/driving until it turns to dust.

    But that said, the very high majority of the cars traded in under C4C were not long for this world. The practical economics of owning a daily driver this old pretty brutal. You could get a couple of grand for trading in the car. If you have to put more than that into it to keep it running, it’s going to the crusher.

    In all likelihood this BMW was one steering rack or water pump away from being scrapped if there was a C4C or not. And with a car this old, that next big repair bill is never far away.

    About working for your own money…this isn’t buying someone a new car. You still have to put up three to five times as much as the C4C incentive.

  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    Hah – don’t try and use logic on these people. I had this argument before and some people are convinced it takes $30,000 worth of energy to build a $20,000 car.

    You can’t stop trying. Like Bruce said, you gotta kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    Just to clarify. You recently accessed C4C from a ‘96 540 into a Jetta TDI?

    You would seem to be an ideal “conversion” (if I might be allowed to use the term).

    That’s right. Actually, a 95 540, as there were no 96s technically speaking.

    Thruth is, I never could quite reconcile myself to the crummy gas mileage of either of my two E34s (the other was an 89 535i 5 speed), so leapfrogging into the Jetta has set my mind at ease on many fronts.

    According to a study by the Argonne National Labratory, it takes 100 million BTU’s of energy to build a 3200 pound vehicle.

    It’s not clear if that study includes ALL energy consumption, including mining raw materials, transporting them, refining and shipping them, shipping the car to final destination, etc. However I’d assume this additional energy to be minimal.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Regarding this particular car, I have one word: Nikasil.

    Now if it didn’t have that problem, it undoubtedly had many more as these cars don’t age well. I know.. I owned one, and while I LOVED how it drove and looked, it was always needing repairs.. and my copy only had 80k miles on the clock.

    Having said that, taxpayers have no business subsidizing the trade in value for this or any other car.

  • avatar
    ChevyIIfan

    The EPA combined number for the 540i was 17mpg and the Jetta gets 35mpg combined. At 15,000 miles per year he’ll save 450 gallons of fuel every year. This means buying the Jetta will generate a net energy savings, including the energy to build it, before its second birthday. Over its expected 180,000 mile life, it will save over 900 million btu’s of energy.>

    Uhh… news flash…. That BMW had 120,000 miles and everyone is talking about how useless and expensive it is. How do you think a VW (the company with several models on JD Power’s ‘least reliable’ list) will EVER make it to 180k miles? That poor VW will be LUCKY to make it to 90k before the owner trashes it because of the high repair costs. So your argument about its “180k life” is a bit exaggerated.

  • avatar
    srogers

    Around here VW TDI owners tend to hang on to their cars for a long time and boast about their durability.

    I don’t think that the TDI will have much trouble staying on the road as long as a typical BMW would.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    That poor VW will be LUCKY to make it to 90k before the owner trashes it because of the high repair costs.

    Once the warranty expires on this TDI, I’ll simply get out my amply-stocked automotive tool chest and turn a few nuts and bolts myself. And/or use the vag.com diagnostic tool which permits me to do EVERYTHING my dealer does and more. TDI engines are diesels. DIESELS. You know, the stuff of 300,000 mile service life and counting?

    Not like the BMW was a paragon of reliability according to every automotive survey in the known world. But since I know how to take care of my cars, it really never was a problem.

    No matter how much repair work this car may eventually require, I can virtually guarantee you it’ll cost me less to run than someone’s Haiondzaru on which they pay out the nose for labor. I won’t be doing that.

    I tend to believe that a lot of the ironclad reliability statistics Asian of cars has much to do with the obliviousness of their owners when it comes to problems. If you drive a sterile, boring, uninteresting car and you are yourself uninterested IN the car, you probably won’t notice that knocking sound, will you? A crappy-running Honda seems fine if you don’t know what crappy-running means.

  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    Uhh… news flash…. That BMW had 120,000 miles and everyone is talking about how useless and expensive it is. How do you think a VW (the company with several models on JD Power’s ‘least reliable’ list) will EVER make it to 180k miles?

    The example I was using was Dingram01’s and his 540 had 200,000 miles when he traded it under C4C for the Jetta.

    About the future value of a Jetta and its 180K lifespan – unless it’s destroyed in a crash it is actually very likely that this car will be on the road with a number of owners for the next fifteen years. It takes a long time for any car to reach the point where one major repair costs more than the car is worth.

    Also, there is a point about half way through the life of a car where the initial quality becomes much less significant. A twelve year-old Toyota can nickel and dime you to death as easily and quickly as a VW of the same age. At some point the cost for keeping almost any car in a given class on the road equals out.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Most of the qualifying rides are SUVs and pickup trucks. It’s hard to find a car with mileage bad enough to do a deal with C4C.

    I have it on good authority that wheels, tires, stereos, and other goodies are being spirited out of these cars on the back lot. Look for ebay auctions for a lot of stuff.

    A mechanic I know saw a truck come in with newish tires and alloy wheels and a few minutes later it was on the lift getting his treadbare steel wheels installed. Managers are looking the other way, just as long as the engine gets toasted and the car stays on the lot.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Steven Lang…if you don’t mind, wrt to Volvos, got any good ideas for ridding oneself of a large supply of surplus Volvo parts?

    Back to the Bimmer…seems like an odd choice. Looking at trader.ca the owner should have been able to do better.

  • avatar
    Bruce from DC

    Baldhead –

    I agree with your basic calculations, with one exception. If you look at CR’s tracking data for repairs over time (which they present), cars do not converge on the same repair rate after the passage of sufficient time. Rather, cars with a high repair rate from the get-go, continue to outpace those with lower rates. So, one shouldn’t buy a 10-year old Land Rover instead of a 10-year old Land Cruiser in the belief that both will require the same amount of repairs.

    While it was sad to see the apparently pristine BMW in the video get destroyed, given that the vehicle appeared to have been well cared for, it’s reasonable to assume that the owner did a transaction that made financial sense to him, IOW, he would not be able to sell the car for more than the $4500 he got from the government.

    That said, the logic of his action depends a lot on what he replaced the BMW with. If he replaced it with some P-O-S tin box on wheels from the Far East that gets more than 30 mpg, it might not have been such a smart deal. I say that because the comparisons on the posts above ascribe zero to the value difference between a BMW and a KIA or a Fit. This, obviously, is false. People pay more for a BMW than a Honda. The apples-to-apples comparison for this BMW owner would work only if he bought a similar “prestige” car, like another BMW or maybe one of the smaller Acuras, which would qualify for the program. As against the cost of keeping the old Beemer running, the smart buyer would figure in the added annual depreciation (much greater for a new car), the opportunity cost of the extra cash investment (it costs to borrow money for a new car) and the additional insurance premiums on the debit side of the ledger . . . to be netted against the fuel savings. Of course, you can buy a Honda to replace the BMW and save money . . . but you’re trading down (i.e. getting less value)!

    Where the young get tripped up with buying high mileage prestige cars is that they assume that, once they’ve put some miles on and have depreciated, they’re cheaper to own. They’re never cheaper to own. But, if you accept the value proposition, (which new car buyers obviously accept), you get more from owning them.

    If I owned the car in the picture (which appears to have good paint, no dents and, I assume, has a good interior), I might very well keep it. I don’t drive very many miles annually, so the fuel economy is not a big issue. And I’m driving a BMW! What’s a new 5-series go for across the lot . . . $45,000 — $50,000? How much does that puppy depreciat the first year I own it . . . 10%, 20%. $5,000-$10,000 buys a hell of a lot of repairs on the old car, which is essentially fully depreciated.

    Sure, at some point parts availability becomes an issue, the interior gets ratty, the car gets so unreliable you can’t depend on it . . . and then it has to go.

    I just sold a 1991 Volvo 740 with 140K miles to a repair shop to part out (combined EPA rating of 20 mpg; doesn’t qualify for CFC). The problem with the car? It wouldn’t pass emissions and needed a new cat converter. Dealer said that plus needed brake work on all 4 wheels would cost about $800. Otherwise, the car ran great and the body was good (the paint, however, was flaking off the horizontal surfaces, down to the primer). The interior, however, was a mess. My dad had given me this car in 2004, which I gave to my daughter to take to college in Virginia. She graduated 3 years ago and now lives in New York City. The only reason I kept the car after 2006 was that my youngest daughter (who just graduated high school) was driving it. I don’t trust the car, even repaired, to go all the way to Wisconsin, so I no longer need it. However, had she gone to college closer by, I probably would have fixed the car and let her use it.

    Which is a very long way of making two points: (1) it is almost always cheaper to keep and maintain an old car than to buy a new one and (2) if you’re going to do cost comparisons, don’t compare the cost of keeping an old luxury car with the cost of buying a new economy car (unless, of course, for whatever reason, you’ve decided that a car to you is now going to be nothing more than a way of getting you from point A to point B).

  • avatar
    John Horner

    BMWs become horrifically expensive to keep in good condition as they age. A 15 year old BMW in the hands of someone who has to pay for it’s repair and maintenance is a money pit. The person who ditched it was probably being entirely rational.

    As far as the person who ditched it for $4500 being an idiot, what happened to the idea that people are free to choose what to do with their own stuff? As a normal trade-in the owner would have been lucky to get $1000 for the car. Manual transmission sedans are very, very hard to sell in the US.

  • avatar

    I sometimes lust after BMWs, but after reading the posts about frequency of repair, I’ll happily hang onto my ten year old Accord. (It has a stick)

  • avatar
    jmo

    (1) it is almost always cheaper to keep and maintain an old car than to buy a new one

    Unless that gov’t is adding $4,500 to the calculation. I could imagine someone trading a ’95 Cherokee in for a Versa and coming out ahead at the end of the first year between gas savings and maintenance.

  • avatar
    alessio215

    I am european.

    This man is very stupid.
    This was a good car. A very good car. More fuel efficient than a new american car

    Why did he destroied that piece of artwork?

    Why american buld dinosaurs like the Hummer H2?

  • avatar
    geeber

    I posted this on another thread, but it’s appropriate for this one, too.

    One of the local Honda dealers has all of the cash-for-clunkers trade-ins lined up behind the dealership. It is two rows of vehicles that seem to stretch forever. (All of the vehicles were marked as cash-for-clunkers trade-ins, and therefore not for resale).

    I would estimate that 90 percent of the vehicles were SUVs and pickups from the 1990s. No BMWs were to be found.

    Some of the more interesting cash-for-clunkers trades:

    1989 Mustang GT hatchback (very worn, but I still felt an urge to save it)
    1989 Chrysler M-body Fifth Avenue (had a big driver’s door dent, and paint peeling from the roof, but was otherwise surprisingly clean)
    1996 Saab 900 Turbo hatchback
    2001 VW Passat wagon (in very good condition; surprised that it didn’t bring more than $4,500 on a trade)
    2001 Honda Odyssey minivan (never thought of these as a gas guzzler)

  • avatar
    jmo

    2001 VW Passat wagon (in very good condition; surprised that it didn’t bring more than $4,500 on a trade)

    Could be very high milage. If you were like me a few years ago putting 25k to 30k a year on a car – the ’01 could have nearly 200k miles on it.

  • avatar
    jmo

    2001 VW Passat wagon (in very good condition; surprised that it didn’t bring more than $4,500 on a trade)

    Could be very high milage. If you were like me a few years ago putting 25k to 30k a year on a car – the ’01 could have nearly 200k miles on it.

  • avatar
    Chgomatt

    I am American

    This man is very smart
    This was a bad car. A very bad car.Less fuel efficient than a new American car

    Glad he destroyed that piece of S***

    As for the Hummer? Built originally as a military vehicle to defend Europeans.

  • avatar
    The Walking Eye

    More fuel efficient than a new american car

    Making flat out wrong statements is in no way going to help your cause. There’s a plethora of American cars to choose from that get better than 18 mpg combined.

    You weren’t there to see this car, nor do you know if this particular BMW was indeed a money pit. Therefore you cannot say this person was stupid or that the car was very good w/ any conviction whatsoever.

  • avatar
    Jesse

    NickR,

    You can send them to me. :-)

    Or post them on turbobricks.

  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    @ Bruce from DC

    I agree with your point…to a point.

    I’m not aware of any CR survey that tracks reliability at ten years and beyond. I’m not sure it could be done reliably, because at that point the owners diligence in service will have as much effect on reliability than the design or manufacture of the original part a decade earlier.

    I agree with the part that different brands do have different levels of reliability beyond the warranty period. But the point I was trying to make is that when you get to ten and fifteen years, pretty much any daily driver is going to be prone to the kind of major repair that would cost more to fix than the car is worth. A fifteen year-old Toyota may have its first huge repair bill at this point while, say, a Porsche 928 of the same vintage may be on its fourth water pump and second timing chain, but from the owner’s perspective both the Porsche and Toyota are in the same boat. Both are going to require an investment near or greater than the cars worth to get it running again. At that point they’re much more likely to go to the crusher than the repair shop or another home. If this fear gets into the head of the owner, they’ll want to bail on the car before it puts them in this spot.

    Is it always cheaper to fix an old car than to buy a new one? I don’t know if you could say that. Look at Dingram’s example again. He said he already put ten grand into the car just on parts over the last two years and it still has expensive unrepaired problems like excessive oil consumption. Keeping that BMW would have very likely been more expensive over four years than buying the Jetta.

    About the value difference between a BMW and something like a Kia – I don’t see how that applies with what we’re talking about in these cases. The market value for a fifteen year-old BMW is about two grand. If he replaces that with a $20K Kia, he’s still ahead by a factor of five or six even after depreciation. Nameplates aside, trading that old BMW for a Kia is trading up, not down.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Less than a minute in, and I couldn’t bear to watch it any more.

    President Owe has some sort of convoluted logic to pay taxpayer money to destroy what is described as a car in good condition.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    the smart buyer would figure in the added annual depreciation (much greater for a new car), the opportunity cost of the extra cash investment (it costs to borrow money for a new car) and the additional insurance premiums on the debit side of the ledger . . .

    Interestingly, my insurance has actually gone down with the TDI compared to the 540. I had full coverage on the 540, so it’s apples to apples. Just a funny quirk in my case; not everyone will be trading out of a perceived insurance risk like the 540.

    if you’re going to do cost comparisons, don’t compare the cost of keeping an old luxury car with the cost of buying a new economy car

    Only thing wrong with that point is that in many cases, over the course of fifteen years, features and conveniences formerly solely the domain of luxury brands have made their way into even the most rudimentary of cars. Granted the driving experience usually suffers, but even an Elantra has a fairly comprehensive list of “luxury” features. And some the 15 year old car never had to boot.

    2001 VW Passat wagon (in very good condition; surprised that it didn’t bring more than $4,500 on a trade)

    If it is a turbo, there’s a good chance it’s got terminal sludge, a fried ECU, worn out front end, bad cat, broken downpipe, dead turbo, malfunctioning electronics, dodgy tiptronic, or any combination of the above. Though I doubt a turbo would meet the MPG threshold. If it’s a V6, probably leaking valve cover gaskets, cam seals, bad coils, bad cats, screwed up 4motion driveline if applicable, needs a timing belt and water pump, and a number of non-engine-specific costly items I listed above.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    Look at Dingram’s example again. He said he already put ten grand into the car just on parts over the last two years and it still has expensive unrepaired problems like excessive oil consumption.

    Minor clarification: ten grand TOTAL including the original $3500 purchase price. But $6500 in parts in two years is still not cheap by any standard.

    Also, let it not appear that I didn’t enjoy the hell out of that car while I owned it!

    Thank goodness the TDI was available. I got one of the last two my dealer had in wagon form. Some compromises in the driving experience relative to the BMW but surprisingly few and minor. Very happy with the deal.

  • avatar
    Bruce from DC

    Bald-

    Again, my point is that comparing, say, a Jetta to a BMW, is not fair because the two cars are priced differently from when they are new. Of course, a Jetta is going to be cheaper than a BMW. $10K for repairs sounds like a lot of money, but check on the first two years’ depreciation on a new BMW 5-series. I bet it’s $10K or more. Again, the point here, is that you’re driving a BMW, either an old one or a new one, not a Jetta. If the price premium for the BMW experience is not worth it to you – whether the car is old or new — then, by all means, buy the Jetta or some other less expensive car. I’ve been on that side of the coin, too. A couple of years ago, we were replacing a Toyota mini-van (my wife’s car) and she wanted a crossover SUV. We ended up with a Pilot. One of the vehicles we shopped was an MDX. But for us, the “MDX experience” was not enough to just the price premium over the Pilot and, in some ways, the MDX was less functional because of its less boxy body shape. And we didn’t even bother to shop the Mercedes or BMW models, which were even more expensive and, from our perspective, even less functional. (In our view, a truck is not to haul ass, it’s to haul stuff; and an SUV, “crossover” or not, is basically a truck and should be evaluated as such.)

    Regarding the “market value” of the used car, I would submit that the elements that go into that value include very much is the anticipated cost of maintenance. Used VWs are cheaper than used Hondas of the same vintage; the difference reflects the accepted wisdom that the VWs will need more repairs. However, “market value” is only one valid measure; another is replacement cost. Obviously, replacing a BMW 5-series is more expensive than replacing a Jetta.

    I am no longer a subscriber to the CU web site (there is limited public access) so I can’t link to the chart, but CU does survey its membership about their car ownership experience annually. Their reporting of repair histories through time is rather coarse, it’s by car line (e.g. Toyota, Ford, Honda) rather than by model. But one of the points their data makes is something like, as a general matter, a 4-year old Toyota needs repair about as frequently as a one-year old ChryCo product. (Don’t hold me to the specifics, but you get the general point.)

    Finally, on the “cost” point, one of my pet peeves is that you see cost comparisons expressed in terms of dollars per mile, perhaps because one way the US government allows business people to deduct automobile expenses (not the only way) from business income is X of cents per business mile driven. I would submit that, for some people, this is a very misleading way to figure costs. Many of the big costs of owning a car (depreciation, insurance, cost of funds, even maintenance to some degree) are not a function of mileage. Moreover, what you, as a car owner, are paying for is the convenience of having that car sitting in your garage, available for you to use whenever you like. Even for commuters, many people choose a car, not because they have to, but because it is more convenient. The transit system may be slower, or maybe they don’t want to be strapped to the schedule of the transit system, or maybe it’s unreliable, etc. In my own case, I drive a short distance to work; and I could take transit instead. But using transit, the time is 30 minutes door-to-door; and driving is 1/3 that. Salvaging 40 minutes out of my day is worth (to me) the extra cost of having and using a car. But when I think about the cost, I don’t think of it as $X/ mile; I think of it as what are the costs of keeping that car (an 8-year old BMW, by the way) sitting in the driveway.

  • avatar
    Morea

    spt87a : Our govt. keeps creating bubbles with these incentives, creating false demand or taking future demand and accelerating it. Eventually, debts need to be paid, people run out of money, etc. and the bubble deflates. Brilliant to recover from the last popped bubble by making a new one. How about no incentives and let the market normalize.

    I believe this is where the debate should be, not on the value of some old BMW.

    Is the CARS program simply creating an unsustainable demand for new cars? When the program goes away will the Detroit 3 and their dealers come up with a new (government-funded) way of creating false demand? Is the country just building new consumer debt (in car loans) and government debt (just another billion here or there!) that we cannot afford to pay back?

    Destroying usable property seems short sighted, but creating more debt seems like a death wish for the country.

  • avatar
    geeber

    baldheadeddork: I’m not aware of any CR survey that tracks reliability at ten years and beyond.

    In its annual auto issue, the magazine features a chart that tracks the reliability of various manufacturers (not individual vehicles, but the manufacturers as a whole) for up to eight years, if I recall correctly.

    Toyota and Honda fare the best among all makes; Ford fares the best among the domestics.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The Jeep died in manly fashion, but quickly.

    The Volvo lasted well, but whined like a girlyman.

    The BMW lasted well and died in manly fashion.

    I got a chill when that old German resurrected for one last fight.

    But I agree with some others here: The repair bills were probably sky-high, or about to be. And if he bought a Kia, the total ownership experience will be better.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    These bimmers weren’t even the best of the 5-series.

    Good riddance to bad trash.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    A lot of posters are missing the point that, although it may be illogical, destroying a car like this is disturbing. Here you have an older car with a manual transmission, good bodywork, and its a Bimmer to boot. Is it economic to repair and use a daily driver? No. But there is a feeling you get when you drive a restored car in a sea of newer metal. You either get it or you don’t. Logic plays no part. An entire industry of restoration parts specialists for great cars of the past exists and thrives just because there are those who do get it. And for people like us, seeing a beautiful blank canvas like that destroyed just hurts. Emotion, not economics.

    This type of car is just going to be much more expensive to restore by virtue of the fact that BMW parts are very expensive…more expensive than they need to be considering that they often lack long term durability.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    I’m glad we don’t have to deal with the CARS program. (mercedes only has one vehicle that qualifies GLK350 4matic) My guys aren’t coming to me with any questions really either, so I assume customers aren’t even asking about it.

    I’d imagine the high volume stores are losing a lot of wholesale revenue.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    saponetta said: (mercedes only has one vehicle that qualifies GLK350 4matic)

    “Mercedes July U.S. vehicle sales off 21.7 pct”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSN0338944020090803

    Yeah, pity those poor Ford, Hyundai and Subaru dealers who are suffering from having too many customers and too few cars to sell.

  • avatar
    bayern

    haha, some of the comments on this video make me laugh, you can clearly see the people who have never owned these cars and are “magazine readers” versus those who have owned such cars. The thing is these cars are built solid, honestly they are like tanks. What car of the day regularly sees 200-300k miles? One of my BMW’s has close to 300k miles, built like a piece of shit and shitty to maintain eh? It’s easy to sit back and bash the car when you were driving a pos grand am from the era, I don’t see any of those cars making it anywhere near 300k miles. The truth is that this car had tons of life left and that the destruction of cars that are perfectly fine can be sold to people who simply don’t have the income to afford a new car. And to whoever made the comments about the brand of the car who cares, some people really cherish a particular type of car and it pains them to see a nice example be trashed. c’mon now, I thought car guys understood this.

  • avatar
    ruckover

    “The truth is that this car had tons of life left and that the destruction of cars that are perfectly fine can be sold to people who simply don’t have the income to afford a new car. ”

    Really? How do any of us know from watching a snuff video of a car how much life the car had left or that it is “perfectly fine”? I wish mechanics could just watch a video of a car and tell me if it still had lots of life in it. Perhaps, that is why we have used cars actually inspected by trained mechanics before we buy them–because we can’t tell by looking at pictures what is wrong with them.

    This is like watching a short video of a person and saying “I’d marry her. I cannot believe that some guy would divorce this woman. Clearly, she has no issues, and anyone that would have divorced her is stupid. I can tell this by watching a video of her for four minutes.”

    Also, I would hate to think that a person who is tight on money would buy a car like this. A very used BMW is going to cost money to keep on the road.

  • avatar
    justin.82

    Jow many other cars do you see driving around from 1994? This guy is an idiot, why would you screw up a car like that. He probablly got a car that’s worse then the damage he did. I test drove an 89 525i the other day and it ran better then my Mom’s 2007 Chevy Impala! Go fugure! This cash for clunkers thing is rediculous! It’s just a way for idiots with no financial understading to get themselves into more debt and there trading in and getting crappy engineered automobiles! IDIOTS!

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    More debt? You say this like the owner of that BMW was stil l making payments on that heap. Hes probably saving money just on the repairs he no longer has to male to keep that frankencar alive

  • avatar
    Gator325

    You wannabe Keynesians are missing the point! The outrage people feel about seeing a car like this needlessly destroyed is based on pure human emotion, not some convoluted academic argument over aggregate demand and debt neutrality. Many people, myself included, are BMW enthusiasts who love these cars and hate to see one that is still in working condition destroyed.

    People have the ability to develop strong emotions for their automobiles because they are so intricately woven into the fabric of our daily existence. An individual can bond with a car in a way they simply cannot with a computer or a DVD player or an iPod.

    Yes, that BMW was just a machine and machines wear out, become inefficient, and eventually obsolete. Still that logic doesn’t take the human emotion and attachment away from the car. Besides, many automobile enthusiasts love older cars for purely subjective reasons that have nothing to do with fuel efficiency or net real output.

    I love BMWs and I cannot bear to watch that video. I suspect most other enthusiasts are the same way. However, I can’t bear to watch any of the videos showing the destruction of functional vehicles, regardless of the make. I like to fix cars up not destroy them. Those are the reasons why people are upset about this. The economics behind the CFC program, which are not definitively valid, don’t tell the whole story.

  • avatar
    John85

    Sorry to be so very, very late to the party.

    The author of the video works for a Volvo dealer – Don Beyer Volvo is the name written in one of the employee’s shirt – The BMW owner must have got the $ 3,500 bonus and traded the 530i in for a C30 perhaps?

    Who knows… but… the Bimmer seemed in good shape and that’s what really bothers me. This program took a lot of clunkers out of the roads, but sadly some good working cars were killed as well.

  • avatar
    John85

    The BMW 530i in the video above had 120.507 miles on the odometer and it was traded for a Volvo V50 FWD 2.4 Automatic: http://www.faqs.org/cars/sales/Don-Beyer-Motors-Inc/Volvo-1.html


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