Reader Mail: Keep A BMW, Kill A BMW

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
reader mail keep a bmw kill a bmw

TTAC commenter esager writes in:

I have a dilemma that may interest our readership (yes, I feel a sense of ownership after being a daily reader for 3-4 years now).

A few years back, my wife and I bought a nice 2007 CPO 328i that was formerly used as a customer service loaner car for the one of our Seattle area BMW dealerships. We really enjoy its performance and sophistication and are happy with the car for the most part, save for the various and sundry trips to the dealership to fix a few warranty items – more trips than I think should be necessary, though not truly excessive. She drove it to work every day and was glad to have it. It’s under CPO warranty coverage for 2 more years.

Earlier this year, a note I left on the windshield of a 1991 318is (the one year E30 model with the M42 engine) allowed me to purchase said car from a co-worker as a daily driver and fixer. I got it for very cheap and have been dutifully cleaning, updating (oil pan gaskets, rear shock mounts, hydraulic timing chain tensioner, differential output shaft seal replacement, etc, etc), and generally enjoying the heck out of it. Lower control arms, ball joints etc. are in the future for this car.

Problem is, my wife was unexpectedly laid off last week, cutting our income in half. Obviously, we don’t now need three cars (two BMWs and a Mercury Monterey minivan) and though we ”only” have 3+ thousand or so on the 328i, we could sell it and put significant money back in the bank and I could drive the E30 as my sole mode of transport (would also include occasional hauling of 3 kids 10 or under – who surprisingly fit quite well in the back). Alternately, I could sell the E30 and pay off a significant chunk of the remaining debt on the newer, faster, safer BMW. Oh and my wife doesn’t know how to drive a manual transmission, so she would be stuck trundling the inefficient minivan everywhere, should I choose this route…not something she would enjoy, though she would not complain.

I keep going back and forth and am really flummoxed. My current thinking is to keep the E90. Am I crazy? I’ve wanted an E30 since middle school when the appeared on the world stage. However, we really don’t want a car payment while we have a single income…would rather use that money to fund piano lessons etc. We are not sure that we’ll be back to two incomes any time soon either – by choice.

Thanks for your thoughts

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2 of 54 comments
  • Zykotec Zykotec on Oct 30, 2010

    Sell all 3 cars , get an E39 Estate with tiptronic. Everybody's happy.

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Oct 31, 2010


    your comments greatly clarify the situation. Junk the E90. But if you get as much pleasure out of driving the E30 as I do out of driving my '99 Accord with the stick shift--and I get a hell of a lot of pleasure out of that car--and if you get additional pleasure out of working on the thing, even if you can bike to work, don't let it go lightly. I get more pleasure out of my Honda than any other object I own, even my cameras, and I would probably hang onto it (or something equivalent) even if I moved to Manhattan. Keepign the Mercury is a no-brainer, given the low cost of doing so and the utility with carrying the kids and the relatives around--family stuff counts big when it comes to human happiness.

    And, yes, maybe teach your wife to drive stick. I've taken it upon myself to teach as many kids as possible (as well as a few adults) to drive stick. It's not hard. You have them start out in a flat place with no traffic. Don't touch the gas, but lift the clutch repeatedly, until you have a good sense of where it catches, and how quickly it catches. Once you have that skill, you can start shifting gears...

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